I make focaccia quite a bit, in fact almost weekly most months. It is an easy bread to make, and I like to cut it into squares to use to make sandwiches, or simply to snack on when the craving hits. Because I do make focaccia so often, I like to vary the flavors or toppings to keep things interesting.
Onions are always a great topping for focaccia and are very typical in Umbria, Italy where we have our farmhouse. You can walk into just about any bakery and get a slice of onion topped focaccia. I recently came across a recipe that braised the onions in red wine before using them on top of the focaccia and I thought that was a great idea. My husband drinks red wine, while I drink only white, so we always have some leftover red wine that I use in my recipes.
Last week, I finally decided to make my wine braised onion focaccia and found half a bottle of Sagrantino di Montefalco that I decided to use. In Umbria, our best red wine is Sagrantino di Montefalco, made with 100 percent sagrantino grapes. This wine is made in a small area of Umbria around the village of Montefalco. This grape has one of the highest tannic levels in the world which is very obvious when you taste it. This wine is full bodied, and tastes of red fruits with hints of plum and cinnamon.
Of course, you do not need to use only Sagrantino wine, as any full bodied red wine will work fine in this recipe. I used my favorite olive, the taggiasca olive. I am addicted to these olives as they are full of flavor and small in size. Taggiasca olives grow in the province of Liguria, and I buy them in the jar, pitted, in olive oil. If you cannot find these olives locally, Kalamata olives will do just fine. If you are new to making focaccia, you might find my tutorial How To Make Focaccia Step by Step helpful.
- 5 Cups All-purpose Unbleached Flour
- 2 Teaspoons Instant Active Dry Yeast
- 2 – 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Plus 2 Additional Tablespoons To Oil Bowl)
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Cups Warm Water
- 2 Large Onions, Peeled, Halved, & Cut Into Strips
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 Cups Sagrantino Wine (Or Other Dry Red Wine)
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- 3/4 Cup Taggiasca or Kalamata Olives
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coarse Sea Salt
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Measure and assemble your flour, oil, salt, yeast, and water.
- Add everything but the water into a large bowl and stir.
- Add half the water and stir.
- Continue to add water until the dough begins to come together into a shaggy ball.
- Dump the dough mixture onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead with the heels of your hand.
- Knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and pliant.
- Add a little oil (2 tablespoons) to the bottom of a large bowl and place your ball of dough inside.
- Roll the ball of dough around in the oil ensuring the sides of the bowl and ball of dough are both lightly oiled.
- Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise. (I cover mine with a kitchen towel on top of the plastic wrap and sit it on a large sunny windowsill.)
- Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about an hour or an hour and a half depending on ambient temperature.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the onions.
- In a heavy frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
- Add the onions, and cook, stirring often, until very soft, about 8 minutes.
- Add the sugar and wine, and continue to cook until the onions have absorbed all of the wine, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Set aside until needed.
- Lightly oil a 13 x 9 inch baking sheet with sides.
- Dump your risen dough into the pan punching it down to deflate it.
- Use your fingers to push and press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 20 minutes or until the dough dimples when pushed with your fingertip.
- Use the tips of your fingers to dimple the entire top of the focaccia.
- Drizzle olive oil over the top turning the pan carefully to allow the oil to roll into the indentations.
- Scatter the onions evenly across the top of the focaccia, then arrange olives.
- Sprinkle coarse sea salt and black pepper over the top of your focaccia.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown, then cool to room temperature before slicing (if you can!).