Friday, February 21, 2014
Gruyere and Caramelized Onion Pull-Apart Bread
Gruyere, caramelized onions, and thyme -- this could be my favorite out of all the breads I've ever made. I love a simple country loaf with just butter or olive oil, or naked if the bread is that good, but this pull-apart bread has so much going for it. There are lots of cheesy pull-apart bread recipes out there, including convenient ones that call for layering storebought bread with cheese and then baking it. But a yeasted bread you baked from scratch is special. There's something about the beer-like smell of the yeast, watching the dough rise, and the intoxicating aroma of the gruyere, onions, and butter filling the house. Have I got you hooked yet?
This bread sure put a smile on my face. I've been sick for four weeks. The doctor said it was the flu or a virus like it, and that it came and went in waves because I had gotten the flu shot and saved myself from the full-force flu. That sounds like a good thing, but week after week of sore throats, sniffles, chills, nausea, and headaches tapped me out. Never mind the nonstop snowstorms we've had. But now that I'm almost 100 percent, I wanted to bake. The hands-on process of bread-making is methodical and soothing, and the result was pure comfort food. I also finally got around to working on my next dining review for the paper, so I feel like I'm getting back into the swing of things again. At least on all the food front.
This recipe is from Williams-Sonoma's blog, and I didn't change it much. One problem was that it called for a particular type of flour that is no longer available, so I used a blend of all-purpose and bread flours. It also called for mustard seeds and I didn't have any, so I subbed in whole-grain Dijon mustard. I also reduced the butter a tiny bit, but worry not, there's still plenty in there. The bread will have crusty, cheesy edges, and soft centers sweet with caramelized onions and butter. The next time a blizzard comes your way, make sure you've got gruyere and onions, then settle in for pure winter comfort.
Gruyere & Caramelized Onion Pull-Apart Bread
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
For the dough
½ cup milk, at 105 to 110º
½ cup plus 2 tbs water, at 105 to 110º
1 tsp instant yeast, or 1½ tsp dry active yeast
1½ cups bread flour
1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ tsp kosher salt
1½ tbs granulated sugar
4 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the filling
1 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1½ cups shredded gruyere cheese, about 2½ ounces
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard
3 tbs melted butter
Stir together the milk and water in a bowl, and sprinkle in active dry yeast, if using. Let the yeast bloom for 5 to 10 minutes. If using instant yeast, just add it to the dry ingredients coming up.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the (instant yeast, if using,) flour, salt, and sugar on low speed. Add the milk and water mixture, then the butter. Raise the speed to medium-low and let the machine knead for 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic, and not sticky. Shape the dough into a ball using your hands, then transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, for 1 to 1½ hours.
In the meantime, prepare the filling. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over a medium flame. Add the onions, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook the onions until caramelized. This will take anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes. Stir the onions occasionally, keeping a close watch and stirring more frequently toward the end to avoid burning. They should be a deep golden color. Season with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, combine the gruyere, thyme, and mustard. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Brush the inside of a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with some of the melted butter.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and roll out into a 16×10-inch rectangle. Brush with about two-thirds of the melted butter (eyeballing is fine here). Using a bench knife or pastry wheel, cut the dough in half lengthwise, then crosswise into eight even sections, for a total of 16 sections. Spoon some caramelized onions over each piece of dough, followed by the cheese mixture. Stack four of the dough pieces on top of one another, turn the stack sideways, and put it in the pan so the cheese mixture faces the short end of the pan and the long-cut edges of the strips face up. Repeat with the remaining stacks.
Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise 30 minutes. The dough pieces won't puff up too much more. Then brush the top of the loaf with the remaining melted butter. Preheat the oven to 350º.
Bake the bread for 40 minutes, turning it around halfway through the cooking time. The top will be golden, and the interior temperature should be 190º. If the bread begins to brown too quickly, tent the pan loosely with foil. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let it cool for 10 minutes, then turn the loaf out onto the rack to cool 20 minutes more. Serve warm.