Foccaccia – Caramelized Onions with Pear and Gorgonzola

Sweet and Savory Foccacia

I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t like bread.  Bread and cheese, bread and butter, bread and olive oil with basalmic vinegar, anyway is good.  Instead of chips and dips at your next get together, why not throw together some fresh Italian foccaccia style bread.  It’s easy and sure to be a hit.  Really, it’s EASY!  Try it!  The bread part of this recipe is mine, but the toppings idea was from a friend.

Foccaccia with Caramelized Onions, Pears and Cheese

3 – 4 Cups of Bread Flour, (bread flour contains more glutens and provides a chewier texture)
1 packet of yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons) – get plain active, not quick rising which is for bread machines.
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tsp Salt
1 ¼ Cup water
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 – 2 Large Yellow Onions, sliced paper thin
2 – Tablespoons olive oil
2 – Pears, sliced thin
2 – Ounces Gorgonzola, Feta or Goat Cheese crumbled
Preheat oven to 400
In a small bowl, place the yeast, the sugar and 1/2 cup water that is at 110 – 115 degrees.  The easiest way to do this is put your wrist under the faucet into the water stream and when it’s really warm but not too hot to have your wrist in, it should be good. Remember, our bodies are at 98.6 normally, so if the water feels very warm it is likely in the 110 degree range.  Otherwise you can heat on stove and test with a thermometer.
Once the yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup water have been mixed, let it stand for a few minutes.  You should see the mixture start to rise as the yeast begins to feed on the sugar.  This way you know your yeast is good and ready to use.  If it does not rise, you will need fresh yeast.yeast.
In mixer with bread hook (you can also do this by hand) add 1 ½ cup flour and the salt.  Mix.  Add yeast mixture, the rest of the water (also warm) and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  When this is blended, add another 1 1/2 cups of flour to make a soft dough.
Turn out on your floured breadboard and knead about 10 minutes adding flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.  When dough is smooth and elastic cover with plastic wrap, put in a warm place and let rise, aprx ½ hour or until doubled in size.  If you don’t have a warm place, this will take about an hour… I always preheat my oven and just put my dough on a cookie sheet on top, a very warm spot.
Meanwhile, slice one – two large onions, paper thin.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan and add the onion.  Cook on medium until onion is well browned “caramelized”, stirring frequently.  Salt and pepper lightly. Remove from heat and cool.
Turn dough back out onto floured bread board and knead lightly.  Then mold dough as desired on your cookie sheet.  (you can also use a rolling pin if you don’t like the rustic look).
Gently indent dough with your finger tips and drizzle with olive oil.  Spread the onions on top, add crumbled cheese and thin slices of pear.  Drizzle one more time with olive oil, a little salt and pepper and bake at 400 for 30 minutes or until the dough is golden.
*Note, it is not neccessary to let the bread rise again after you have formed this because it is will rise enough on the bake, however, you can put the toppings on and then let the bread rise until doubled in size, typically 1/2 hour.  The bread in this picture did do a second rise, because I put it together about an hour before my guests were to arrive and then baked it off 30 minutes before they came.

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