Did You Know? Egyptians believed onions had strength-producing powers, therefore, they were fed to laborers who built the pyramids.
Caramelized onions have a way of making everything better. Compared to their raw counterpart, the sweetness that emerges after being slowly sauteed, you wouldn't even think that they came from the same vegetable. I made this bread for the first time on election day, and used it to make amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. My family and I (along with a few friends) finished the entire loaf that night, and the loaf is pretty substantial. My brother told me that I should be making bread like this every week.
It has since become a recipe I turn to time and time again. We have a weekend tradition at my house of cooking breakfast together on Sunday mornings, and it is one of my favorite things to do. This particular bread has won a starring role on our Sunday morning table, and is absolutely delicious toasted and served alongside eggs. Although Nicole's recipe over at Baking Bites is perfect just as it is, I think the addition of caraway seeds or some rye flour would be excellent also.
2 Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Balsamic vinegar (a few splashes)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110F)
4-5 cups bread flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon salt
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until translucent. Lower the heat a bit and continue to cook until the onions are a golden brown and caramelized all over. I add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar - it really enhances the sweetness, and gives the onions a deep mahogany color. The whole process takes about 45 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup water. Stir to dissolve and let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Pour in remaining water and 3 cups bread flour, mix well. Add onions, pepper, salt and another cup of flour and stir again. Add remaining flour gradually until dough comes together into an elastic ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise unil doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350
Lightly grease a 10-inch tube pan with cooking spray. Gently deflate risen dough on a lightly floured surface, press a hole in the center of it (like a huge bagel), and place in the tube pan. Cover, and let rise another 45-60 minutes.
When bread is finished rising, bake for 45 minutes, until golden.
Turn loaf out of pan onto a cooling rack to cool to room temperature before slicing. Enjoy as part of your favorite sandwich, as morning toast, or just plain sliced, it's really that good (my favorite way to eat this is toasted alongside fried eggs).
*Make Ahead Tip: I often prepare the caramelized onions a day or two in advance, refrigerate them, and then microwave them for 20 seconds when ready to make the bread (just to get the chill off).*