Thursday, August 25, 2011

Double Take: Rosemary Onion Bread

Recently, I told you all about my plant, Miss Rosemary. She’s a major kitchen contributor and I try to find new ways to use her more in cooking. Today’s recipe is an example of that. It’s also an example of merging ideas. For one of the Daring Baking Challenges this spring, we made filled yeasted coffee cakes. Before I cause confusion, this isn’t a coffee cake but it has the same filled swirl technique that we used for the coffee cake. 

This is a light, soft bread with a savory filling. If you’re a light lover of rosemary, take it down to ½ to 1 tsp rather than Tbsp. This would be easy to mix and match herbs to serve in a sheet form for garlic bread to serve with salad. It’s a pretty flexible bread. Be cautious with the amounts of herbs depending on how you want to use it. 1 Tbsp of rosemary packs a huge amount of flavor.

Slice of Rosemary-Caramlized Onion Bread

Rosemary-Caramelized Onion Bread (inspired by Foy Update)

Prep Time: 30-45 min
Inactive Time: 1-1.5 hours
Bake Time: 30-45 min
Total Time: 2-3 hours

Yield: 1 large loaf of bread (standard loaf pan, not a store sized loaf)

1 cup warm water
2.5 teaspoons yeast
1.5 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or oil of your choice
½ to 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 small onion, diced or sliced
(optional) 1/3 c. grated mozzarella or cheddar
(optional) 2 cloves of garlic, minced
3- 3.5 cups flour

Pour the cup of warm water into a large bowl. The water should be about 110 degrees F, about the temperature of a nice bath. (I typically cut the hot water tap on and wait until the water is as warm as my fingers tolerate, though everyone’s tolerance and water heater can be set a little differently.)

Add the brown sugar or honey and stir to dissolve. Then sprinkle the yeast on top. Cover the bowl with a towel and allow the yeast to bloom for about five minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the onion and mince the rosemary. Heat 2 Tbsp of your preferred oil in a pan on medium to medium low heat. Cook the onions 10-15 minutes until translucent or browning. Remove the onions from the pan and let cool.

While the onions cook, check on your yeast to make sure it has bloomed. The water should now be covered in a thin layer of frothy foam. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the salt and one cup of flour.

Continue stirring in the flour a half cup at a time until the dough is really hard to mix. Then use your clean hands to knead the dough. I like to knead right in the bowl or you can turn it out on to a lightly floured surface.

Knead for about five minutes until the dough is elastic and still a little sticky.

Pour a little oil into a large clean bowl, place the ball of dough into the bowl and turn it to grease all sides. Then cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place until double. Depending on how warm your place is this could take thirty minutes to an hour.

While the dough rises, prep your onions and rosemary. If your onions were sliced, dice them. If they were diced, pile them on a cutting board with the rosemary. Using a cup, spoon, or whatever is most handy to you. (If you like a mallet, go for the mallet. In this case, I think a mallet might be excessive though and not as useful for crushing. If using a mallet put your onions and rosemary in a ziploc bag or cover with plastic wrap.) Alternately, a mortar and pestle is ideal for this job but I don’t have one. Anyway, crush the onion and rosemary together. If you like, add some minced garlic and cheese to your mixture. Crush the garlic in and once finished crushing, add the cheese.

Punch the dough down and turn it out on to a clean work surface. Roll out the dough into a 10 inch by 20 inch rectangle. It doesn't have to be exact.

Sprinkle the onion and rosemary (optional: garlic and cheese) mixture over the surface of the dough rectangle. Roll the short end of the dough up to form a log.

Now there are 2 options: Flatten the bread out again and reroll it into a log for better distribution of the add ins. (This is what I did and I still got a lovely swirl.) Or continue to the next step.

Tuck the two ends of the dough to the bottom of the lump and lay the dough into a well greased loaf pan.

Allow the dough to rise for second time until double. This rise will go quicker, fifteen minutes to a half hour.

Dough Rising...Is it ready to bake yet?

When the dough gets halfway through the second rise, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously grease the bread pan. I use a standard loaf pan, but you could use a 9" round or even a cookie sheet if you want a more free-form loaf.

Bake your loaf for 30-45 minutes or until the top starts to brown. When you turn your loaf out the sides and bottom should be a rich golden color, if they aren't put your loaf back in the oven for another five minutes or so. It's very disappointing to cut into a loaf only to find the middle is still doughy.

Once you've achieved the lovely golden brown, turn the finished loaf out on to a cooling rack. This keeps moisture from condensing in the pan and making the crust soggy. Allow the rosemary onion bread to cool at least five minutes before you slice into it.


It is good hot out of the oven (very good). It’s also good the next day if you let it cool completely before wrapping it up. After cooling, wrap it in aluminum foil and enjoy it with a salad, butter, plain, toasted with cheese or whatever. I’d reduce the rosemary to ½ Tbsp (as noted above) for next time but it was tasty. As far as other notes, if you want to use this for bread sticks, you could also add a little oregano, basil and thyme. Be sure to reduce the rosemary if adding other herbs so you can let the flavors meld together rather than letting the rosemary overpower them. As I think about this, roasted garlic would be awfully incredible in here. Mmm...fresh bread.

Update: This bread was tried today by people I worked with in the lab. They loved the flavors! They were surprised there weren't any special ingredients in there b/c to them it tasted like there was something there I wasn't telling them about. For this bread loaf, I only used fresh rosemary and caramelized onion. One wondered "How could it be so simple? Really, what's the special ingredient?" Some expressed it would be served well with good olive oil or warm butter. I can't argue with that. They also thought it was great all by itself. Winner! 

Looking for another taste? Check out Mel's viewpoint at Fabulously Fun Food.

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