Focaccia with Caramelized Onions and Spinach

Focaccia with Caramelized Onions and Spinach |

I admit it. I have a weakness for fresh bread. And an even more serious weakness for fresh bread with cheese on it. I know that I am not alone in this. I mean, isn’t the love of bread and cheese the one thing that practically every culture in the world has in common? This can actually probably be extended to include not just bread but all white, starchy, non-healthy foods… and cheese haha.

Anyways, point is- I love bread and cheese. And I love this recipe. Which includes both.

Focaccia with Caramelized Onions and Spinach |

This bread isn’t just any kind of bread- it’s focaccia. One of my favorite breads. And it is topped with delicious caramelized onions and sautéed spinach. AND mozzarella. It’s basically a foccacia veggie-pizza. Totally cool with me.

What’s not cool with me? Taking pictures of any kind of pizza-like food. I hate it. Pizza, my camera, and I just don’t get along.

Focaccia with Caramelized Onions and Spinach |

On a very side note, I have a mildly sad story that goes along with this recipe. I made it the day before I was going to Venice while my parents were visiting. We ate as much as we possibly could and then we cut up the rest, bagged it in ziplock bags, and took with us on the car ride the next day. Venice is only 7 hours from where I live in Germany so this was meant to be a means of a snack rather than anything else. It ended up being our only form of sustenance when we got stranded on the side of the autostrada when my car kicked the bucket. It’s a long story that you can read about here, but basically we depended on the remnants of this bread to get us through a very long, tiring day…

AND then when I got home, a leftover red pepper flake from the kitchen counter ended up finding its way into my 4 month-olds eye. I didn’t know that was what it was at the time. All I knew was that he was screaming bloody murder and could not be consoled. I had to flush his eye out repetitively with saline while my Mother held him down until he finally calmed and the thing flushed itself out. Crazy. Try to keep the red pepper flakes away from your kids eyes folks…

5.0 from 1 reviews

Focaccia with Caramelized Onions and Spinach
Serves: 12

  • For the Focaccia Dough:
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 2¼ cups bread flour
  • 2¾ tsp instant dry yeast
  • 2¾ tsp salt
  • 2 cups lukewarm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
  • ⅓ cup good-quality olive oil, plus more for oiling
  • cornmeal for dusting
  • For the Topping:
  • ¼ cup good-quality olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3½ cups loosely packed baby spinach
  • 2 Tb chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tb chopped, fresh thyme
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • dried oregano, to taste
  • 2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella or other cheese of your choosing
  • ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or other hard cheese or your choosing, plus more for sprinkling
  • red pepper flakes, to taste

  1. Make the Focaccia Dough: Place the flours, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until combined. Add the water and ⅓ cup olive oil and mix on low speed until the dough just begins to come together. Turn off the mixer, switch to the dough hook attachment, and mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth and tarts to release from the sides of the bowl (it is okay if the dough still sticks to the bottom of the mixing bowl). If the dough feels too wet and is not releasing, add additional all-purpose four, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough releases.
  2. Dust a work surface with flour and stretch the dough into a rectangle (about 9 by 20 inches). Fold each side onto itself, creating a letterfold. Tuck the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm-ish place (at least 72 degrees F) for 20 to 30 minutes. Repeat this process (stretching the dough into a rectangle, letterfolding, tucking into a ball shape, and placing in covered bowl). Wait another 30 minutes and repeat a third time.
  3. Lightly spray a 13-by-18-inch light-colored metal half-sheet pan or two 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pans with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Use your fingers to smear a little olive oil (no more than a tablespoon) evenly across the parchment and sprinkle it with an even dusting of cornmeal. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan(s) and stretch it into a rectangle (don’t try to stretch the dough into corners of the pan just yet). Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest (still at room temperature) for about 20 minutes. Uncover the dough and stretch it into the corners. (If the doughs feels resistant to stretching into the pan corners at this time, cover with plastic wrap and wait 10 more minutes.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and position the rack in the center. Place a baking pan filled with water on the rack below where you will be baking the focaccia. The steam from the pan will give the crust a nice crunchy exterior while keeping the interior moist and chewy.
  5. Make the Topping: In a medium skillet or sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is soft and translucent. Set the onion aside. Add the spinach to the skillet, cover, and cook until the spinach is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside until cool. Squeeze the spinach dry and set it aside.
  6. Poke the dough in the pan. If your fingers leave a dent, it is ready; if not, wait 5 minutes and test again. Toss the rosemary with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Brush the oil onto the top of the dough. Sprinkle with thyme, salt, pepper, and oregano.
  7. Place the focaccia in the oven, on rack above the pan filled with (now boiling) water, and bake for 1- minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the dough starts to brown on top. Then remove the pan from the oven and, leaving a small border of crust, top the dough with the onion, spinach, cheeses, and red pepper flakes. Continue baking the focaccia until the cheese is bubbly and browned.
  8. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with more Pecorino Romano and salt to taste, and brush the edges with a little bit more olive oil. Serve immediately.
  9. Focaccia tastes best directly from the oven, though leftover focaccia can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 2 days. Reheat at 275 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until warm to the touch before serving.

Adapted from “Baked Elements: Our Ten Favorite Ingredients” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Laura is the publisher of Laura’s Sweet Spot- a blog making regular contributions about baking, cooking, and blogging tips!

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