Caramelized Onion Bread (BBB October 2014)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Caramelized Onion Bread, based on a recipe in Canadian Living Magazine; a Bread Baking Babes project; submission for YeastSpotting; information about World Food Day; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) October 2014

I regained access to my blog this afternoon. Fingers crossed that it sticks this time. Because I may get locked out at any time, I rushed to post this, hoping it will stay visible. Unfortunately, commenting is still disallowed. Please bear with me until the malicious bots get tired of their evil game here and move on to plague some other unsuspecting innocent blogger….

feed the hungryHappy World Food Day! Please remember to do your part to make everyone’s World Food Day happy….

Caramelized Onion bread

This month, it was Katie’s (Thyme for Cooking) turn to choose the BBBabes’ project. Here is her thinking about the recipe she presented to us:

I decided I [w]ould find an extremely simple bread that I would have fun making (and eating) and all of you Babes could make it with one hand tied behind your back and the other holding a glass of wine. […]
I wanted something autumnal, savory, pretty even.
-Katie, message to BBBabes

Katie found a wonderfully autumnal, savoury and pretty looking bread recipe that was published in Canadian Living Magazine. She thinks she chose a simple bread. Silly her.

Nothing is simple in OUR kitchen!

I confess that I have often scoffed at Canadian Living recipes, but is that really fair? No, not really. It could have been simple, as Katie thought. But as usual, I managed to make it complex.

Still, with the few tweaks {cough}, this bread is not only easy to make, but it’s lovely(ish) to look at and delicious to eat.

The other BBBabes didn’t make nearly as many changes to the recipe that I did and they say it’s wonderful. But once I begin mixing a new (to me) bread recipe, I just can’t help myself from make a few changes. Here’s how it went:

BBB Caramelized Onion, Herb and Cheese Bread diary:

31 August 2014 15:49 I’m a big fan of “extremely simple bread that I would have fun making” but do not plan to do anything with one hand tied behind my back (with the full knowledge that I’m not even remotely qualified to do this).

I’ve made something along this lines with apricot jam but I’ve never made a savoury version. This makes me VERY happy. I love savoury bread…. I think, instead of rosemary, I’ll use sage. Of all the herbs in our shady garden (I know; herbs need sun), the sage has done remarkably well.

1 September 2014 08:38 I’ve been reading Lionel Vatinet’s excellent book, A Passion for Bread, and was really surprised to see the following:

And, please, don’t eat your bread warm. While I respect that some cultures love a warm loaf of bread, to get the optimum flavor profile, it should be enjoyed at room temperature, so the complexities or flavors that identify a fine artisanal bread can be experienced.
-Lionel Vatinet, A Passion for Bread, p.70

Wow! So THAT explains why we often got room temperature croissants in France!

Now, I agree that the bread should be cooled completely after baking (it’s still baking inside!) but unlike the French, we like to rewarm bread for serving.

However, I was stunned to see the following really radical instructions:

Serve warm or let cool completely on rack.
-BBB October 2014 recipe
What really convinced me was the directive to eat it warm, right from the oven. I’d do it anyway, but this gives me ‘authority’ to tell you all to do it to.
-Katie, message to BBBabes

Oh my!! No, non, nein, nyet.

Although… we do eat pizza directly out of the oven, don’t we? Okay, maybe we’ll give this radical notion a try. Maybe…

14 September 2014 11:02 I’ve emailed my sister who subscribes to Canadian Living to ask if she might still have a copy of that issue so she can send a photo from the magazine. Because there must have been a photo, don’t you think? Nope. No photo because even though she was subscribing to the magazine at the time, she doesn’t have it because it was a “special edition”! What?? Subscribers aren’t rewarded by having special editions included in their subscriptions? What’s up with that?

3-1/2 cups (875 mL) all-purpose flour
-Canadian Living Recipe

As Jamie asked the rest of us, “who measures flour in mL?” (Personally, I suspect the parenthesized ml part is there because a Canadian cup holds 250ml rather than the US 240ml).

But I counter with, who measures flour by volume? It’s SO much easier to measure it by weight! Then there’s no worry about how packed the cup is.

But, as far as I know, most Canadians generally measure in cups for dry ingredients too. And there is this problem that Canadian cups and spoons hold slightly different amounts than US cups and spoons AND that both US and Canadian versions of the cups and spoons are readily available in kitchen stores in Canada. (It’s REALLY frustrating, actually.)

[excessive-rant-alert] It drives me crazy that there hasn’t been a general switch to ingredients lists in weights instead of by volume. I know that I’m the first one in the line of people who loathe change but come on! Measuring things like flour and salt by volume just doesn’t make sense! [/excessive-rant-alert]

1 October 14:14 waaaaaaaaHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
$!~^*%#)_^#%#@%~^#!)+. My site has been inexplicably wiped out.

Everything gone. Every file.

I can’t even upload an emergency “we’re looking into the problem file” because apparently I don’t have permission.

I’m spitting mad. Maybe I’ll just go and have a nap and wake up and find out it’s all been a bad dream.


2 October 2014 11:37 This is the email I got this morning:

“[Your site] been getting massively DOS-ed, and we had to lock your site down to stop it.”

I’m spitting mad. I don’t know what to do.

Perpetrators of DoS attacks typically target sites or services hosted on high-profile web servers such as banks, credit card payment gateways

Yah. That’s me alright. I’m SO high-profile….

{spit} :stomp: :stomp:

4 October 2014 10:59 The site came back online yesterday and I was soo happy! But {SPIT!!} I’m locked out again. Looking at my error logs, it happened sometime around 6:30 this morning. I’m tearing my hair out.

Before I’m completely bald, I’m hoping it will be fixed.

7 October 07:32 Well, I don’t have much hair left. It’s been about 72 hours that I’ve been locked out of my site because of Brute Force Attacks….

And Eeeeeek!!! The 16th is next week, isn’t it?

Maybe I should make this caramelized onion bread for Thanksgiving this weekend. (Oh!! I should, shouldn’t I? It would be very fitting to use a Canadian Living recipe for Canadian Thanksgiving!)

Remind me to get some red onions….

14 October 2014 13:14 WHAT?! It’s the middle of October already? How does this happen? Every time!

Heh. I know I said I was going to make the bread for Thanksgiving. But, well… you know….

I guess it’s time to get cracking, isn’t it?

Back in September, when I was doing the conversions from volume into weight for the recipe, I didn’t pay full attention to the actual ingredients.

Sugar? In the dough AND in the onion filling? I DON’T think so. Onions are already sweet enough. This is a savoury bread, for Heaven’s sake!

And I am flummoxed about the number of eggs called for! The Canadian Living test kitchen must have a number of laying chickens in their back yard….

Whisk in milk, eggs, egg yolks, oil and salt. […] [F]old strips over filling to resemble braid, overlapping ends by 1 inch (2.5 cm) and brushing with some of the egg to seal. […] Brush top with egg.
-BBB Caramelized Onion Bread recipe

TWO complete eggs? And TWO egg yolks as well?! And then a whole other egg for assembling the bread? (What about those two egg whites? Why not use the whites for the assembly, instead of breaking another egg??)

Don’t get me wrong. I love eggs and I really love the farm eggs that we are getting. But I hate wasting them. There’s no way that I’m using so many eggs in this bread…. (Heh. But we’ve been through this before in March with the BBB Water-Proofed Bread, haven’t we? :lalala: )

15 October 2014, 10:03 I just finished mixing the dough. I hope that with all of my omissions and substitutions, it will at least sort of resemble the bread that Katie suggested….

I WAS going to put in some whole wheat flour. But I can’t believe it! We’ve run out. How did this happen?!

The dough looks lovely! It is now in the oven with only the light turned on and I’m hoping that it will rise sooner rather than later (I have to leave the house at 16:00…).

12:46 I stretched and folded the dough and it feels fantastic. I’m so glad I decided not to use sugar and all those eggs!

I was looking at the filling ingredients and along with leaving out the sugar, I think I might “forget” to put in cheese. It’s not that we don’t like cheese in bread. It’s just that I’m thinking the caramelized onions will be enough of an extra. Not to mention that we have zero Asiago in the house. (I know. I could use the hard Portuguese cheese that we buy instead of Parmesan… but as I said, I’m a bit forgetful. Or we could pretend that it’s my inability to read. Yes! …that’s it. :lalala: )

14:00 We just came back from bicycling to get vegetables for tonight’s dinner and whoohoo!! The dough is rising nicely. Maybe I’ll be able to bake it before I leave after all….

Rats. I can’t believe I forgot to get a red onion. But wait, let’s play the Glad Game: I’m GLAD I forgot to get a red onion; T says that regular onions caramelize better.

15:17 Well, isn’t caramelizing onions fun? As I was waiting for them to start to colour, I suddenly decided that it would be fun to put in the last dregs of red wine from Thanksgiving. Ha. Dregs it was! There was maybe a half a teaspoon. So I threw in a little dry sherry.

And then I remembered that the recipe called for rosemary. Our garden rosemary is very disappointing this year. But the lemon thyme is doing brilliantly. So I threw some of that in.

And then I shaped the bread. Hmmm, a little later than I’d hoped. I wonder if it will miraculously rise in the next few seconds so that I can do the baking.

Oops! I forgot to put in the mustard. Of course I forgot! Typical. (This time, it wasn’t on purpose though; I really did plan to slather on T’s wonderful home-made grainy mustard.)

16:01 Eeeek! The bread is not quite ready to go in the oven. And I have to leave the house. Luckily, T has agreed to bake the bread. Fingers crossed that it will turn out well.

23:59 I just got back and see that (a) the bread is flat as a pancake (but otherwise looks pretty good) and (b) I’m. Locked. Out. Of. My. Blog. Again. :stomp: :stomp: :stomp:

Will these morons never give up?!

Well, at least we have freshly baked bread for comfort.

Late this morning, we rewarmed the bread and had it for lunch with artichokes and blue cheese dip.

caramelized onion bread

As he was cutting the bread, he said that it seemed very similar to a Portuguese sweet bread (from a local bakery) that we had on Thanksgiving. Except that there was no sugar in the BBB bread.

I loathed that Portuguese bread. It was insanely sweet and more like cake than bread. Which is why I refused to put sugar into this BBB bread.

Alas, T was less than enthusiastic about the BBB bread. He prefers plain bread and said that the onions in it “made him carsick”.

Well, I really liked our lunch. A lot.

And, I like the bread! Especially the one with the onions.

So, nyah nyah nyah, it means all the more bread for me.

Thank you, Katie!

Caramelized Onion Bread

Here is the BBB October 2014 Caramelized Onion Bread recipe. And here is what I did to it:

BBB Caramelized Onion Bread
adapted from a recipe for “Caramelized Onion and Cheese Braid” in Canadian Living Magazine


  • 125 gm (0.5 c) water at 100F ¹
  • 0 gm (0 tsp) sugar ²
  • 4 g (1 tsp) active dry yeast ³
  • 464 gm (3.5 c) flour
       »450 gm unbleached all-purpose flour
       »14 gm (2 Tbsp) ground flaxseed
  • 9 gm Kosher salt (1.5 tsp fine table salt) 4
  • 3 eggs 1 egg 5
       »61 gm (4 Tbsp) plain yoghurt
       »14 gm (2 Tbsp) ground flaxseed
       »1/8 tsp (0.6 gm) baking powder
       »15 gm (1 Tbsp) water
  • 55 gm (0.25 c) olive oil
  • 60 gm (0.25 c) milk


  • good shot of olive oil
  • good shot of salted butter
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced in half moons
  • 0 gm (0 tsp) granulated sugar
  • splash of dry red wine and dry sherry
  • fresh lemon thyme 6
  • 1 Tbsp grainy mustard (oops! I forgot to add this)
  • 157gm (1.5 c) shredded asiago cheese
  • milk, for brushing on the shaped, risen bread
  1. dough: In the morning of the day you will be baking the bread, put flour, ground flax seed, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
  2. Heat the water until it is around 100F (put a drop or two on the inside of your wrist; if you feel nothing, it’s just right). Pour it into a smallish bowl and whisk in the yeast until it has dissolved. Set aside.
  3. Put beaten egg, yoghurt, and oil into the flour mixture and pour the yeasted liquid overtop. Using a wooden spoon, stir together.
  4. Kneading Plunge in with your hands to turn and fold the dough in the bowl, kneading until it’s smooth (5 to 10 minutes). When the dough is smooth, decide to continue bad habits learned from bad BBBabes and skip the washing and drying the mixing bowl step (if asked, you did not hear this from me). Cover the bowl with a plate and set it aside in the oven with only the light turned on to rise until it has doubled. Don’t freak out that it takes considerably longer to rise than the time that the BBB recipe suggests.
  5. Filling Heat oil and butter in a large frying pan placed over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring from time to time, until they begin to turn a little golden. Suddenly decide to add some wine. Notice with surprise that someone has drunk virtually all the wine from the bottle that is open. Throw in some dry sherry to make up for the lack of wine. Add the thyme leaves. If they are large leaves, chop them coarsely. Continue cooking, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of pan, until onions are dark gold and very soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  6. Shaping When the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a board very lightly dusted with flour. Suddenly decide to cut the dough in half and make one filled loaf and one plain loaf, because the rulebound finicky eater in the house doesn’t really like filled bread. Shape one of the pieces into a round. Place it seam-side down on a parchment papered cookie sheet. Rinse your hands in cold water and rub them gently over the top of the loaf. Sprinkle sesame seeds overtop.

    Flatten the second piece of dough into a rectangle. Spoon the onion mixture into the center of the dough. Realize the next day that you were supposed to add mustard first. Decide not to worry about it.

  7. Use a sharp knife to make right-angle cuts on both sides of the rectangle up to the part of the dough where the filling is. Notice later that the cuts were supposed to be diagonal. Decide not to care. Alternating strips, gently fold them over the filling to look like a braid. Place the braid on the parchment papered cookie sheet. Brush the braid with milk and then realize that you were supposed to wait until just before putting the loaf in the oven. Cover with a clean teatowel followed by a large plastic grocery bag and leave to rise in the oven with only the light turned on until it has doubled.
  8. Preheat Put a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat to 400F.
  9. Baking Just before baking, brush the risen braid gently with milk again. Put the cookie sheet (parchment paper and all) onto the hot stone. Immediately turn the oven down to 350F. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when knocked on the bottoms.
  10. Remove the bread from the oven and place the bread on a wire rack. Allow the baked bread to cool completely before cutting into it. It’s still baking inside! Completely ignore the Canadian Living instruction to just serve the bread warm. (Even if you’ve ignored the instructions about using hot water from the tap, please do not ignore this step.) If you want warm bread, reheat it after it has completely cooled. 5


1.) Water You know what I’m going to say, don’t you? It may be annoying but… please do not use water from the hot water tap. Instead, heat the water in a kettle or microwave. If you are allergic to using a thermometer, you can check the temperature by putting a few drops of water onto your wrist: if it feels warm, it’s too warm; if it feels cool, it’s too cool; if it feels like nothing, then it’s fine. Please note that before the yeast is added, the liquid temperature must be BELOW 120F (49C) because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

2.) Sugar The BBB recipe calls for 1 teaspoon (4gm) sugar in the bread dough and then another teaspoon of sugar in the onion filling. I can’t stand that kind of sweetness in a savoury bread, so I left it out. :stomp:

3.) Yeast The BBB recipe calls for 1 tablespoon (12 gm) active dry yeast. I suspect it’s because it also calls for a LOT of eggs and sugar. Because I omitted the sugar entirely and used a fraction of the eggs called for, I reduced the amount of yeast.

4.) Salt The BBB recipe calls for one and a half teaspoons of salt. But we always use Kosher salt, which is more coarsely ground than table salt, so I ALWAYS weigh the salt. (For more information about measuring salt, please see Salt is salt, right?)

5.) Eggs The BBB recipe calls for 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks in the dough and another egg for brushing over the shaped loaf. We don’t have the luxury of having our own chickens in the back yard to supply us with eggs (a city ordnance disallows it!). So I substituted. I know that an egg is roughly 60 ml (0.25 cup) of liquid. And an egg yolk is roughly 15ml (1 Tbsp) Here’s what I learned about eggs and egg substitution:

1 egg yolk = 1 tablespoon
What’s Cooking America? Egg Size Equivalents, Egg Conversion Charts
1 whole egg = 2 egg whites (to reduce fat; may make baked goods less tender) = 2 egg yolks […]
For baking: 1 egg = 2 tablespoons liquid + 2 tablespoons flour + ½ tablespoon shortening + ½ teaspoon baking powder (Recipe from Substituting Ingredients by Becky Sue Epstein and Hilary Dole Klein. […]
OR flaxmeal (Make flaxmeal by grinding flaxseed in a blender until it has the consistency of cornmeal. Use two tablespoons flaxmeal plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder plus 3 tablespoons water for each egg called for in recipe. […]
OR gelatin (To replace each egg: Dissolve 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin in 1 tablespoon cold water, then add 2 tablespoons boiling water. Beat vigorously until frothy.)
OR cornstarch (Substitute 1 tablespoon cornstarch plus 3 tablespoons water for each egg called for in recipe. […]
OR bananas (Substitute 1/2 of a mashed ripe banana plus 1/4 teaspoon baking powder for each egg.)
Cooks Thesaurus, Eggs
If eggs are binders in a recipe, it can be replaced with Arrowroot, Soy Lecithin, Flax-seed Mix, Pureed Fruits or Vegetables, Silken Tofu, Unflavored Vegetarian Gelatin Powder (agar agar). The ratio is, for every egg replaced, 1/4 cup of the substitute is used.
If eggs are leavening agents, Buttermilk, Yogurt, Baking Soda […] can be used.
If eggs are added for moisture, Fruit Juice, Milk, Water or Pureed Fruit can be used
Madhuram’s Eggless Cooking

6.) thyme The BBB recipe calls for dried rosemary. I find that dried rosemary can taste bitter, so I opted for fresh lemon thyme from the garden. (Why else would we grow the herbs, if not to use them?)

7.) But I LIKE warm bread just out of the oven!! N.B. Of course you will want to serve warm bread. Reheat it after it has cooled completely. (It is still baking when first out of the oven!) To reheat any UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 450F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.

caramelized onions

I really loved these caramelized onions! The colour is amazing, isn’t it?

Bread Baking Babes Caramelized Onion Bread (BBB October 2014)

We were thrilled that Katie came out of semi-retirement as a BBBabe and agreed to host the October 2014’s Bread Baking Babes’ challenge! She wrote:

I decided I had two ways to approach this: I could find an extremely challenging bread that would take 100 hours to make and involve flying in a special moss grown only on a small patch of ice in the antarctic…. And then not make it myself because (insert reason here).
Or I could find an extremely simple bread that I would have fun making (and eating)

And fun it was! I especially liked caramelizing the onions.

I do wish that I’d had whole wheat flour in the house. I think it would improve the flavour of the bread itself.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ October bread:

Yeastspotting - every Friday ( image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:


World Food Day - 16 October World Food Day is a yearly event put together by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to raise funds to feed the world’s chronically hungry.

World Food Day 2014

World Food Day, 16 October 2014
Feeding the world, caring for the earth

The 2014 World Food Day theme – Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth” – has been chosen to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers. It focuses world attention on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas. […]

[A]bout 805 million people are estimated to be chronically undernourished in 2012-14.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Please read more about World Food Day.



edit 25 February 2015: I finally have commenting allowed again! Whoohooooo! (read more here about the hoops I jumped through)


This entry was posted in baking, BBBabes, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, food & drink, hunger, posts with recipes on by . Caramelized Onion Bread

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