Preparation / Directions:
Note: the best onions for caramelizing are the naturally sweet varieties: Vidalia from Georgia, Maui for Hawaii, Walla Walla Sweets from Washington State, and Texas Noonday. This bread requires advance planning and preparation.
This bread goes well with minestrone, chicken soup, or any brothy soup or stew. Bread Machine Instructions:
a. On the first day place the sponge ingredients in the bread pan. b. Process on the dough setting. c. Let sit in the machine for 14 to 16 hours. d. On the second day, add the remaining ingredients except caramelized onions, and process again on the dough setting. e. While the dough is rising, prepare the caramelized onions as directed in steps 5 through 7 (see Hand Method Instructions below). f. When the cycle is complete, turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. g. Knead the caramelized onions into the dough until evenly distributed. h. Continue with step 14 of the recipe, which follows.
Hand Method Instructions:
1. To prepare the sponge, place the water in a mixing bowl.
2. Sprinkle the yeast over the water, stir in, and let sit for 2 minutes.
3. Mix in the 1 cup bread flour.
4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit overnight or for 14 to 16 hours.
5. To prepare the onions, heat the olive oil and sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat for 1 minute.
6. Add the onions, stir well, and saute, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until browned and caramelized..
7. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
8. To prepare the dough, place the water in the bowl of an electric mixer or in a mixing bowl.
9. Sprinkle the yeast over the top, stir in, and let sit for 2 minutes.
10. Add the sponge, bread flour, whole wheat flour, salt, and pepper.
11. Mix with the dough hook for 2 minutes, or until the ingredients are combined. Or beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for 8 to 10 minutes.
12. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
13. Add the caramelized onions and resume mixing, continuing for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the dough is silky and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be very wet and sticky, but still elastic.
14. Transfer the dough to a lightly, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
15. Let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in volume.
16. Turn over a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal or semolina flour.
17. Place the dough on a well-floured work surface, handling it gently to preserve as much volume as possible, and cut into 2 equal pieces.
18. Gently pull and stretch each piece of dough into a flat round, about 1 1/4 inches thick.
19. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
20. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
21. Place a baking stone on the middle rack in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
22. Using a spray bottle, spritz the oven walls with water. Work quickly so the oven does not lose heat.
23. Slide the loaves onto the hot stone.
24. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the bread browns.
25. Transfer the flatbreads to a rack to cool.