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Caramelized Onion, Cheddar & Lager Focaccia

  • Difficulty 3
  • Prep Time 1 hr 10 min
  • Cook Time 20 min
  • Rising Time 12-1/2 - 49-1/2 hr
  • Serves 12
  • Difficulty 3
  • Prep Time 1 hr 10 min
  • Cook Time 20 min
  • Rising Time 12-1/2 - 49-1/2 hr
  • Serves 12
The steps to make this no-knead focaccia are simple, and the work is minimal: mix, rise, shape, rise and bake. If you’re thinking about having it for dinner, mix up the dough one or two nights ahead and bake it right before serving. The caramelized onions and cheddar are so good together, but you can add a sprinkle of chopped olives and cut the focaccia into small wedges if you want a fancier party app.

Ingredients for the Focaccia

  • 3-1/4 cups (810 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 tsp (12.5 mL) fine sea salt or table salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup (250 mL) hot tap water
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) cold lager
  • 5 tbsp (75 mL) olive oil, divided
  • 3 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) balsamic vinegar

Ingredients for the Topping

  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) shredded aged cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 tsp (4 mL) flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Directions for the Focaccia

  1. 1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 2 tsp (10 mL) sea salt and yeast. In a medium bowl or glass measuring cup, combine water and lager, ensuring the mixture feels warm to the touch (see tip). Pour lager mixture over flour mixture and stir with a fork to create a rough, sticky dough. Set aside.
  2. 2. Pour 2 tbsp (30 mL) oil into a large airtight container or lidded casserole dish, rubbing to coat bottom and sides. Transfer dough to container; turn and flip dough several times to coat all over with oil. Seal with lid and refrigerate for 12 to 48 hours. (Note: The longer the dough is left to rise, the more flavourful the focaccia will be.)
  3. 3. Rub 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil over bottom and sides of a 11- x 17-inch baking sheet. Transfer cold dough to pan and let stand for 15 minutes. Using your palms, gently spread dough until it almost covers the pan. Let rise until dough is at room temperature and puffy, 30 minutes to 1-1/2 hours (depending on how warm your house is).
  4. 4. Meanwhile, in a wide heavy-bottomed frying pan, warm remaining 2 tbsp (30 mL) oil over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add onions and remaining 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) sea salt. Stir to combine, then spread evenly across bottom of pan. Let onions cook, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if necessary to prevent burning, until soft and rich golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.
  5. 5. Stir in vinegar and cook until evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes more. Let cool slightly.

Directions for the Topping

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Rub oil over dough. Using your fingertips, pat dough down to about 1/2-inch thickness, making dimples all over top. Sprinkle with cheese, caramelized onions, then flaky salt.
  2. 2. Bake in preheated oven, rotating pan halfway through, until focaccia is puffed and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.
  3. 3. Let cool completely on pan on a cooling rack. Slide focaccia onto a cutting board and cut into squares. Serve the same day for the best flavour.

Variation

  • Vegan Caramelized Onion & Lager Focaccia: Omit cheddar cheese. Once focaccia is out of the oven, scatter 1/4 to 1/3 cup (60 to 80 mL) roughly torn pitted oil-cured black olives overtop to balance the onions’ sweetness. If desired, add a bit more flaky salt before serving.

Tip

  • The water-beer mixture should be warm when it’s mixed into the dry ingredients (you should be able to hold your finger in the mixture comfortably). Combining hot tap water with cold lager should achieve just the right temperature to activate the yeast. If it feels too cool to the touch, warm it up slightly in the microwave or on the stove. Conversely, if it’s too hot, let it cool for a couple of minutes before adding it to the flour mixture.

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