Onion Cheese Bread


I love the variety of artisan sandwich breads we have available in the US which all make amazing sandwiches. One of my favorite breads is an onion and cheese flavored bread which is great used for grilled sandwiches in particular. The flavor of the onions and cheese really pop out when the bread is grilled to a golden brown.

Unfortunately, although we have wonderful bread available in Umbria, these types of breads just are not sold so I decided to make my own at home. This bread turned out great, with a nice crust and crumb, and the only thing I’d do different is to add more of the flavoring ingredients, the onions and grated cheese. When I initially gathered my ingredients, I thought one onion would be plenty, but the breads ended up so large additional onions and cheese would have made the bread even better so I am increasing the amounts in this recipe. I first fried the onion until it was golden brown and sweet before I added it to the other ingredients. I used Pecorino Romano cheese which has a stronger flavor than Parmesan, but either cheese would work well.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2011

Onion Cheese Bread

A crusty bread flavored with caramelized onions and cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Medium Onions, Peeled & Diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Pound (16 Ounces) All-purpose Flour
  • 
1 Pound (16 Ounces) White Wheat Flour
  • 
3/4 Cup Sourdough Starter (or Biga – Recipe Below)
  • 
30 Grams (1 Ounce) Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 
2 Cups Grated Pecorino Cheese
  • 3/4 Liter (or 750 ml) Warm Water (Approximate)

Biga:

  • 1/2 Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Cup Lukewarm water
  • 2 Cups Unbleached, All-purpose Flour

Directions:

  1. To make the biga, mix the yeast and water together, and then slowly start adding the flour, mixing well.
  2. 
Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for up to 6 hours, then refrigerate overnight.
  3. Use 3/4 of the biga for this recipe and refrigerate the rest to use within 3 days.
  4. In a frying pan, heat the oil and cook the onion over medium low heat until soft and golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. 
In a large bowl, mix together the flours, salt, and yeast.
  6. Add the starter (biga) if using, then onions and cheese.
  7. Fill a large liter measuring cup water that feels warm to your wrist.
  8. 
Begin to add about 16 ounces (2 cups) of the warm water to your flour mixture.
  9. 
Stir, and continue to add additional water until the mixture comes together as a workable lumpy dough.
  10. Dump your dough out onto a lightly floured hard surface and spread out.
  11. Knead by hand for about 7 to 8 minutes or until the dough is fairly smooth and no longer sticky. 
(You may need to sprinkle on a little additional flour on top of your dough as you knead.
)
  12. Roll your dough into a ball and place in a large, lightly oiled bowl.
  13. 
Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to double in size, about an hour and a half.
  14. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll into an oval shape, and place each oval loaf onto a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with a little cornmeal and flour to prevent sticking.
  15. Cover each loaf with a kitchen towel and let double in size, about 45 minutes.
  16. During the last 15 minutes of rising, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  17. 
Just before baking, dust the tops of your loaves with a little flour and cut a few slits into the top of each loaf with a dough lame, kitchen shears, or a very sharp knife.
  18. Place a small casserole dish filled with water on the bottom shelf of your oven.
  19. Bake the loaves on the middle shelf for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and has reached an internal temperature of 190 degrees F.
  20. Cool before slicing.