Caramelized Onion and Cherry Tomato Focaccia

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Whoever told you baking bread at home was easy kind of lied to you! There, we said it. Bread baking is not a simple task. If it were easy, every single home baker across the world would be baking their own wonderful, crispy crusted bread with soft and moist centers every single day.
After all, we live in the age of convenience. Buying a loaf of a freshly baked baguette, ciabatta, whole grain or a chocolate croissant at the grocery store or bakery is accessible to so many of us. But when you have a little extra time, there is no greater satisfaction than working with your own dough and enjoying the rewards of the hard work you reaped on your kitchen counter.
Breaking Bread Society was created to inspire you to bake more bread in your kitchen. We want you to bake along with us every month and break bread with your family and friends. We want to spark a bread baking passion across the nation and the world around. We know it’s not an easy task and we are here to help you along the way.
Each of our founders has a different background, complementing each other in various ways:
There is me: Lora of Cake Duchess, the Italian baker of the group. I’ve been told I have a way with traditional and classic Italian breads like no other. As a young girl, I got bit with the baking bug making my first pizzas and breads with my family at our pizzeria and later at our family restaurant. Married to an Italian executive chef, my baking repertoire has grown baking alongside my husband, mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law.  You can find my Cornmeal Peasant Boule featured on Fine Cooking’s Best of the Blogs. I’m passionate about bread baking and I am excited to learn alongside my #breakingbread bakers.
Shulie of Food Wanderings, with a couple decades of baking with yeast experience and expertise, is known for her recipe development, food writing and Mediterranean and Indian cooking classes. Born to Bombay born and raised Indian parents, she comes to us from Israel by way of a DC suburb. Her food and culture writings, recipes and food photography have been showcased in nationally and internationally acclaimed publications. You can find her step by step quince stuffed challah rolls published in The Washington Post.
Last but not least, Marnely of Cooking with Books, our professionally trained baker comes to us from the Caribbean island of Dominican Republic and has studied at the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America. Her baking is best known to be spontaneous and influenced by tropical flavors. She currently lives with her husband on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where she works as a pastry chef in a private golf club, as well as develops recipes for national food brands. You can find her writing for Marcus Samuelsson and Honest Cooking.
What unites us three bakers and all of you? The love of bread and a dear & growing friendship in the Breaking Bread Society! We love baking bread because people love eating real bread; delectable bread steaming hot right out of the oven. We love the discovery of a new recipe and learning new techniques about a bread recipe we may have not tried before. We are here to discover new flavors, new textures, and new ways to experience bread at the table with our friends and family, and most importantly, WITH YOU!
Whether you bake along with us every month or just once, we want to inspire you to love baking your own bread one loaf at a time. We encourage you to make the recipe your own. Check out Marnely of Cooking with Books and Shulie from Food Wanderings recipe ideas for inspiration. Be creative and add your own toppings or bake it as we did.  Read all about our Breaking Bread Society adventures and let’s unite in #breakingbread together:

Bake this month’s bread and post it on your blog with #BreakingBread in the title of the post by June 1st:
  • Include a link back to the current #BreakingBread hostess’ blog (that is me!)
  • Link your post to the linky tool below. It must be a focaccia baked in May 2012 and if you use this recipe, it must include in the recipe: Copyright (c) Nick Malgieri 1995, All Rights Reserved
  • We would love to connect with you on Twitter; Tweet us at @Breaking_Bread  and tag it #BreakingBread!

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When I made this focaccia below, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. It was one of the last ones I made. The dough seemed a little more wet than the other batches were. I could barely dimple the dough and I have to say, it was the best out of all them. The crust was crispy and the crumb was soft perfection. Sometimes when you expect a baking failure you may get pleasantly surprised. Never give up on your dough.;)

focaccia

In preparation for this post, I did quite a bit of focaccia baking. My neighbor’s son told me on the last sample that he didn’t want a piece. He said, “It’s OK, Lora. It’s the same thing you’ve been handing me at the fence for the last 2 weeks.” Then my other friends son exclaimed, “Are you kidding me? I will bike over here any time you are making another focaccia and need me to try it.”
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Of all the different toppings I was considering for this post, my kids did love the caramelized onion and rosemary one the best. One day when I was baking my parents were here. My mom was giving me fresh basil to add to some photos. My dad was next to her handing me fresh rosemary. My dad kept asking me, “How many more photos?” and the kids were sneaking pieces off the cutting board. When there is this amazing focaccia around, patience is not an option. My dad told me when he was a little boy in Sicily, his mother would make focaccia and then mix ricotta and mascarpone together to put in the middle of a sliced piece: a sweet focaccia sandwich.

*If you really want to make this and don’t have the time to wait for the dough to rise, you could make the dough and leave it in the refrigerator over night (or place in the refrigerator in the morning and take out to bake at the end of the day). When you are ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and press into your oiled or parchment lined pan and let it rise before baking it.
*As mentioned in earlier in the post, you could use your own favorite focaccia recipe if you prefer. We just would love you to bake along with us!;)

Caramelized Onion and Cherry Tomato Focaccia
adapted from: How to Bake by Nick Malgieri
Copyright (c) Nick Malgieri 1995, All Rights Reserved

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups warm tap water (about 110 degrees)
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons sea salt

Topping:

3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
caramelized onion
2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced diagonally
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
1-3 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt

for caramelizing onion:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large onion

one 101/2 x 151/2-inch jelly roll an or a 14-inch round pan (for my round one, I used a 9-inch cake pan and it was very fluffy. The kids loved it!)

In a small bowl, add the water and sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil and whisk together. Set aside.

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In large mixing bowl, add the flour and 3 teaspoons of salt; whisk together or mix together on low speed in your mixer.

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Add the yeast mixture and about half of the flour mixture. Stir with a rubber spatula until it is combined. Attach the dough hook to your mixer and add the remaining flour. Mix on low speed for about three minutes. If the dough seems to be too dry, add warm water a teaspoon at a time until you obtain a softer dough.

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This is how my dough looked. It is a dough that is elastic and a little moist.

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Form the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl (when I put the dough in the bowl I swish the dough around the bottom of the bowl and then flip it over so all of the dough is covered in a light film of oil). Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size (about 1-1 1/2 hours).

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While the dough is rising, caramelize the onion if using it for topping.

Caramelize onion:

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive- oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions to the skillet and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar over it. Stir occasionally and cook until tender (takes about 10-15 minutes
until golden).

This was my dough after 1 hour.
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Place the dough on a parchment lined pan. Pat and press the dough gently until the dough fills the pan completely. If the dough resists, let it rest for a few minutes before continuing (sometimes the dough can be moody). Cover the dough with a piece of plastic wrap and let it rise again until doubled in size (about 40-60 minutes).

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Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 F.

When the dough has doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap. Dimple the surface of the risen focaccia using your fingertips.
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Brush on the remaining olive oil to the surface of the dough. Sprinkle on the sea salt (add the amount of salt you prefer. We like it a little saltier. You could even add on crushed black pepper if you’d like) and press the cherry tomatoes gently into the dough. Sprinkle on the chopped rosemary.

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Bake the focaccia for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Lift the focaccia from the pan with the parchment paper edges onto a cutting board. You’re supposed to let it cool a little on a rack before serving. That never happens over here. Cut and serve.

Happy Focaccia Baking! Buon appetito!

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