Recently, it was my birthday and this required a special bread. I had come across an onion share and tear bread here and then found a version of the same bread on this blog. Both use the same basic recipe, both use onions – one uses sage, the other rosemary. I didn’t change anything on the basic recipe, used onions, no garlic but dried herbs, an Italian mix with basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme and sage. To be honest, I was just too lazy to go down into the garden and get some fresh ones. It was my birthday after all. I wasn’t too happy about the given oven temperatures, they seemed too low and I didn’t really think that it worked. So I’ve looked at a similar recipe to adjust that.
150ml whole milk, plus extra for glazing + 150ml (or more) warm water
400g strong white flour
7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1-2 tbsp mixed dried herbs
freshly ground black pepper
To make the dough put the flour into your bowl, add the yeast to one side, the sugar to another and the salt to a third. Pour in your liquid and mix with a wooden spoon. You may need more water, depending on your flour. When it has all come together, tip it out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 10 minutes or so (I don’t think I ever do that but it sounds good.) until you’ve got a smooth ball of dough. Put it into a lightly oiled bowl, cover (I use a shower cap, specifically purchased for this) and leave to rise for an hour, until doubled in size. (I usually use the same bowl. Is that bad?!)
In the meantime, gently cook the onion in the olive oil. Slowly does it to bring out all the sweetness. When you’re happy with it, take it off the heat and add the dried herbs and ground pepper.
Tip the dough out again, knock the air out, then flatten it gently into a rectangle. Spread the onion-herb mix over it and knead together. When I did that, the dough became very oily so maybe draining the onion mix on kitchen paper before incorporating it may be a good idea. Cut the dough into 8 bits of more or less the same size. (Or you weigh the dough, divide by 8 and then weigh out your 8 pieces accordingly, they’ll probably be around 80g…) Put the first one in the middle of a baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper. Arrange the others around it. They don’t need to touch but don’t put them too far apart either. I then put the baling tray in a large plastic bag which I prop up with a Kilner jar on the tray, and leave to prove for an hour, until doubled in size again.
Preheat the oven to 220°C (fan). Brush the bread with milk, then bake for about 20 minutes. They are ready when the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
Leave them to cool. (They are also nice toasted the next day!)