When I was surviving the drag of long distance love, before my inevitable move, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Bermuda on several occasions. I remember first attending one of Dan’s soccer games and by the end of my first match I was subsequently dubbed a WAG (Wives and Girlfriends). Although admittedly to this day, I still don’t fully understand the rules of soccer! The team that Dan plays for is the Flanagan Onions, made up of a great group of guys from all over the world as well as Bermuda. At first, I found it peculiar to have a sports team named after an onion of all things and when I inquired, Dan’s only response was that the Onion was a ‘thing’ in Bermuda.
Sweet Bermuda Onions were originally imported in from the Canary Islands in the 18th century and were such a heavily exported item to the US, it monikered the Bermudian nickname “Onions”. A high water and low sulfur content make the onion not as pungent, which is great for any teary eyes. Satiny white, with a flat top, they are perfect for caramelization and what better use of them than to top it on something salty and carby.
Following Peter Reinhart’s: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice has been helpful in my journey of perfecting my bread practice. The chapter on focaccia offers 2 options, both require some pre-meditation with an overnight ferment; however, if you wish to have the loaf within a day you still can! I just love the process of a slow ferment to bring out the great flavour in bread.
PS: A special thanks to my dear friend Melanie of Fiander Foto for gifting me this beautiful Bermuda onion from her In-law’s garden.
Sweet Onion Focaccia with Rosemary
recipe adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
5 cups bread flour (22.5 ounces)
2 teaspoons salt (.5 ounce)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
6 tablespoons olive oil (.22 ounces)
2 cups water, at room temperature (16 ounces)
½ cup Rosemary Oil
Extra olive oil for the pan
Caramelized Sweet Onions
Combine the flour, salt and yeast in a large mixer bowl. Add the olive oil and water and stir with a spoon or paddle attachment for a few minutes until a cohesive dough forms. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium for 5-7 minutes until a smooth tacky dough is formed. Additional flour may be added to achieve a dough that will clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom.
Sprinkle a 6-inch square flour bed on the counter and using a scraper transfer the dough and pat into a rectangle shape dusting liberally with flour. Let the dough relax for 5 minutes.
Coat your hands with flour and stretch the dough on each end until double the size. Fold it, letter style, over itself to return to a rectangular shape. Mist the top with spray oil, sprinkle with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap to let rest for 30 minutes.
Stretch and fold the dough again and let rest for another 30 minutes. Repeat once more after the rest. Allow the covered dough to sit on the counter for 1 hour until swollen or nearly double the size
Line a 17 x 12 inch sheet pan with parchment paper and drizzle a good amount of olive oil and spread it evenly over the surface. Using oiled hands or a scraper, carefully transfer the dough to the pan maintaining the rectangle shape
Spoon half of the Rosemary oil over the dough and using your fingertips, gently dimple the dough and spread it around until it fills the pan. Be careful not to tear or rip the dough and keep the thickness as even as possible. If the dough springs back, let it rest for around 15 minutes and continue dimpling. Use more Rosemary oil as needed
Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight. The dough can keep for up to 3 days at this point. If you’d like to bake the same day, let the dough rest for another hour or until double the size and proceed to the baking stage.
On the day of baking, remove the pan from the fridge and drizzle additional oil and dimple allowing the dough to fill the pan completely. Add the Caramelized Sweet Onions and cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow to sit in room temperature for about 3 hours or double in size to proof
Preheat the oven to 500°F
Place the pan in the middle of the oven and lower the temperature to 450°F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway and continue to bake for 5-10 minutes or until a light golden brown. Remove focaccia when done onto a cooling rack and allow 20 minutes to rest before serving.
Caramelized Sweet Onions
1 large Sweet Onion (Spanish Onions work as well)
1 tablespoon butter or Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar (optional)
Cut the onion into thin slices
Melt butter or oil in a skillet over medium heat and add onions with a pinch of salt.
Continue to cook the onions for 40 minutes, checking every 5-10 minutes adding water or vinegar to prevent burning
Rosemary Infused Oil
1 cup Extra virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh Rosemary
1 teaspoon sea sal
Warm olive oil to about 100° in a small sauce pan. Add chopped rosemary and salt. Allow the herbs to marinate in the oil while you prepare the focaccia. Leftover oil keeps in the fridge for about 2 weeks.