Welcome to my kitchen

A while ago, I realized I was serious enough about bread baking to stop diddling around with the 3-packs of yeast from the grocery store, or even the small jars for a small fortune. So I pulled up my big girl pants, and ordered "A Pound Of Yeast". It's in my freezer, and I use it regularly, and I guess that makes me "A Baker". Even though I always said "I can't bake". So, join me on my journey, and let's see what that pound of yeast makes, and where we go next....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


So, it’s about time to get around to some actual bread, and maybe use some of that “Pound Of Yeast”, huh?  One day last week, I had one of those magic days in the kitchen, where everything worked.

We’ll see the rest of the meal in a bit, for now we’ll focus on the bread.    Yep.  Bread, and a darn good one, too !

I’d pulled a recipe a bit back from “Food And Wine” magazine.  I think it may have been the January issue….for sure it was early this year.  It was for “Focaccia with Caramelized Onions, Pear and Blue Cheese”.  It sounded divine, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to make it.  It’s the tail end of pear season here in SoCal, and I’ve been indulging.  I love pears….they have such an interesting texture (even though I know some people find the “grit” off-putting”, to me it’s a feature), they’re crunchy and soft and sweet and crisp all at the same time.  Pear crisps have  been in regular rotation, and just eating out-of-hand is never a bad thing.  Especially with some cheese….and speaking of cheese…..

I had a Bosc that had been in the ‘fridge for way too long, and I was wondering what to do with it.  Actually, I’d been saving it for this bread, but it never seemed to “go” with what my entrees were.  When serendipity hit, the bread was a good fit.  Plus, I had some bleu cheese looking for a use.  Hmmm, sounds like a plan to me, especially since I always have onions in the house.

I mean, seriously.  What’s NOT to love about caramelized onions, good bleu cheese (I used a Gorgonzola) and pears?  On top of BREAD???  Hello.  You had me at “caramelized onions”, quite frankly.

Here’s the recipe:

Focaccia with Caramelized Onions, Pear and Bleu Cheese
(Adapted from Food And Wine)

1C warm water
1 package active dry yeast (approximately ¼ ounce or 2&1/2 Tblsp.)
½ tsp. honey
2&1/2C all-purpose flour (divided use)
1/2C *plus* 1 Tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil (divided use)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1 large Bosc pear, cored and thinly sliced
1/2C crumbled bleu cheese

In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the water, yeast and honey and let sit for about 5 minutes.  Add in 1 cup of the flour and ¼ cup of the oil and stir.  Let stand for another 5 minutes.  Using the paddle on a stand mixer, mix in the remaining flour and salt, and stir until blended.  Switch to the dough hook, and knead until smooth.  For me, in my kitchen, with my KitchenAid, that took about 10 minutes total.  I’d recommend kneading in 5-minute increments and judging the texture of the dough at each point.  (You can also do this all by hand, obviously.  Mix the water, yeast and honey together as instructed, and let stand, then add the 1C flour and 1/4C oil.  Let that stand again, then mix in the remaining flour and salt.  Turn it out onto a floured counter or board, and knead until smooth and elastic.)

Transfer to an oiled bowl, roll the dough around so it’s covered with oil, cover with plastic wrap and let stand for about an hour at room temperature.

While the dough is proofing, slice the onion by cutting the onion in half, pole-to-pole, and then slicing pole-to-pole on an angle.  This gives you nice, thin strands, rather than half-moons, which can get stringy when sautéed.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a skillet.  Add the onion, cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.  Add the sugar, cover and cook, again stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes, or until browned.  Set onions aside.

Preheat oven to 450°.  Oil a 9x13-inch rimmed baking sheet, and cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom.   Lay the parchment in the pan, and lightly brush it with additional oil.  Transfer the dough to the pan, and press it down to fit, using the flat of your hands.  Once the dough is close to filling the pan, start to “dimple” the dough all over with your fingertips. 

That will complete the “stretching” of the dough to get it into the corners and edges of the baking sheet.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil. 

Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let rise until it puffs, about 20 minutes.

Scatter the onions over the dough.  Arrange the pear slices over the onions, and then scatter the cheese over that.  Drizzle over the last 2 tablespoons of oil over the toppings. 

Slide into the oven, and bake for 20 minutes or until everything is nice and golden.   Transfer to a rack to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then use 2 large spatulas to remove focaccia from pan and return to rack to cool to room temperature.

Cut into squares and swoon.

(This bread has been submitted to “Wild Yeast/Yeastspotting”)


  1. I shall try this asap. It looks wonderful! i also like to make the same thing, pressing red grapes into the dough and sprinkling with brown sugar.

  2. That sounds and looks wonderful, Roberta! I just sent the link to myself at work to print out tomorrow and, I hope, try soon!

    As you can see I'm SLOWLY catching up on your blog. No time lately, but I really am loving it!