The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

This one's about onions...

wizarddrummer's picture

This one's about onions...

Hi again everyone,

Back with a question about onions that puzzles me.

I've seen a number of recipes for making different things like onion buns.

In all of the recipes that I have found it calls for dehydrated onions, minced dried onion, dried chopped onion etc.

I can't say that I've looked at every recipe on the planet. I've looked at probably 15 - 20. So far I've not seen one that uses a real onion.

Why not?

Is there something about a fresh onion that will ruin the dough and consequently the bun? I know that onions have some moisture. It seems to me that some adjustment could be made to compensate for that.

My thinking is that i could just chop them in a food processor and blot out the extra moisture or let it evaporate a little. Or even sauté them slowly until they caramelize and then chop that mixture up and use it.

I just saw a recipe that uses dried onion that you put in water to make them wet again ... this is what makes no sense to me; to substitute dried w/added water for fresh onions.

Thanks for the anticipated great responses :)

flournwater's picture

Fresh onion adds moisture to the bread and, consequently, little sticky pockets can form which make it unappetizing.  Using dried onion products provides the onion flavor without the sticky little bits in the dough.  But  your idea of breaking the fresh onion down in a food processor has, IMO, some merit.  Give it a try and let's see what happens.

wizarddrummer's picture

Thanks, but how does this relate to recipes that say take the dried onion and soak it in water until it gets hydrated. Seems to me that doing that is not too much different than starting with fresh onions to begin with.

I don't know.

williampp's picture

Bread with raw onion is one of the things that is on my bread list. Have used raw potato, my next will be raw pumpkin.

It may be OK mixed with the oil, or water before they are mixed in, to help it mix in to the dough.

As flournwater said it adds moisture to the dough, so you will have to hold back on the water, until you see how wet the dough is.

It seems wrong to me to cook things before they are put in the bread. They get cooked again with the bread, double cooking would destroy a lot of their food value I think. There are some things that have to be cooked before, like meat, or sausages, but mince should cook with the bread ??. has anyone tried raw mince ?.


wizarddrummer's picture

Well, the internal temperature of the bread would certainly cook the onion but it would not, at least I don't think it would, carmalize the onine. There's a rich flavor you get when you simmmer onions for a long time; perhaps I should have not used the word saute which implies high heat.

yy's picture

Another option is to cook the onions to the stage where they're just beginning to caramelize. A lot of moisture will have evaporated off, and in my opinion, they'll taste much better.

Janknitz's picture

I've tried making a few things with either raw onions or carmalized onions and I've been very disappointed that the flavor does not seem to come out in the finished bread.  They are bland and lack that oniony flavor I'm seeking, although the bread may smell oniony while baking.  I'm not sure why. 

yy's picture

How far did you take the caramelized onions? For really strong onion flavor, experience tells me that they have to be super-caramelized, almost to the onion maramalade stage, like this

breadsong's picture

I tried making Mr. Hamelman's Potato Bread with Roasted Onions once, and loved the onion flavor in the bread.
The onions are caramelized and roasted in the oven. Extra caramelized onion makes fabulous soup, too - but I digress.
Mr. Hamelman notes, for his formula, adding the roasted onions adds 1% in terms of hydration, compared to his Roasted-Potato Bread formula.
from breadsong

SylviaH's picture

Filled with fresh shallots, poppyseeds, parmesean cheese stuffed into a sourdough challah.  I have been meaning to bake it again, stuffed with olives and other goodies.  It's on my blog with recipes HERE, The combinations are endless, even try it with a regular challah dough or sweet yeasted dough.


clazar123's picture

It is possible to get a more intense onion flavor with the dehydrated onions. Even if the onions are rehydrated, it isn't to 100% so the flavor is still strong.

wizarddrummer's picture

I understand.

Don't have any experience with drying food. I'm (laughing to myself) wondering if I slice some onions and put them on my pizza screens outside in the sun if I could achieve the dried onion concentrated flavor.

I just realized that this forum has one of the silliest text editors that I have ever seen. It keeps putting parts or more of the first sentences of replies into the Subject. Crazy!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

yep, that would work.  I like to use my dark baking sheets and sparsely spread anything I dry.   The pans heat up in the sun and discoloring is minimal.  Because it is dried, more of it can be used than fresh.  Soaking before using will not fully restore all the evaporated moisture but may prevent hard lumps of onion.

About that onion puree, I would measure it in with the water meaning add water to the onion until the proper amount is reached.  Some of it can be used to chop up the onion.  

I don't know if you have noticed but there is an aroma that leaves onions as water evaporates from them.  I don't like this aroma.   I believe it protects the plant to some degree.    I think this is why raw onions taste different than dried or those "cooked until glassy" onions.  I will often use the microwave to speed up this stage of cooking heating the onions thru until they turn clear.  When the microwave door is opened, that steam cloud of onion aroma (not the best) will hit your sensory organs and stink up the kitchen.  (works as repellant when the kitchen is crowded and you want your space back)  Also in the first stage of frying onions this aroma is escaping.  Many of us tend to hold our breath waiting for the first whiffs of onions caramelization that smells so much better.  Ah!  the smell of fried onions!  The reward for putting up with the first stage of water evaporation.  :)


wizarddrummer's picture

Good info, I'm one of those that the onion smell does not affect badly. I like the way they smell when I am cutting them or cooking them ... for me it doesn't matter.

Oh, don't get me wrong, there's a few things like beef liver that'll do the same for me as onions do for most others.

Whew! want to make me scarce? Just start a cookin a heapen full of possum and beef liver and I'm outta here :)

dmsnyder's picture

In a commercial bakery, I imagine it's a lot easier to purchase dried onions and soak them than to roast fresh onions. Many recipes are reproducing commercially baked products that use dried onions. Dried onions do have a more intense flavor and also a different flavor than roasted or caramelized onions.

On the other hand, some recipes do call for raw chopped onions, especially in rye breads.

The bottom line is that, at least in my opinion, the different kinds of onions give different flavors. You can use any of them. Try them and see what you prefer.


GAPOMA's picture

I have a recipe for onion focaccia that uses uncooked onions that I make frequently.  It uses 1/2-3/4 cup of chopped onions added directly to the dough.  I usually chop them in a small food processor, but I don't chop them too fine.  

This bread is actually my familys favorite.  Great flavor, espeically when paired with some rosemary!  Also no sticky uncooked pockets around the onion pieces.  In fact, other than the flavor you can't even tell the onion is in the bread unless you really look carefully.  There is no obvious textural difference as compared to regular focaccia.

wizarddrummer's picture

care to share that recipe or at least the process you use?

GAPOMA's picture

but it's a version I've used for years and it makes my family happy.  It may not be a "classic" focaccia, but it's easy and always seems to work.


Yeast .................... 15 grams (1 Tbsp)
Brown Sugar .......... 1 pinch
Warm Water........... 115 ml (1/2 cup)

Warm Water........... 235 ml (1 cup)
Sugar..................... 15 grams (1 Tbsp)
Olive Oil................. 60 ml (1/4 cup)
Salt....................... 7.5 grams (1.5 tsp)
AP Flour................ 735 grams (5.25 cups)
Onion..................... 1/2 cup (or 1/2 medium Onion), chopped

Olive Oil................. 60 ml (1/4 cup)
Kosher Salt............ 20 grams (4 tsp)
Fresh Rosemary..... 15 grams (1 Tbsp), whole leaves or chopped



1)  To start the yeast dissolve the brown sugar in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Let it stand about 10 minutes at room temperature until the mixture is foamy and double in size.

2)  In a mixing bowl add 1 cup of water, sugar, 60ml (1/4 cup) of the olive oil, the salt and 155g (1 cup) of the flour. Add the foamy yeast and begin mixing on medium speed. Mix about 1 minute, until creamy. Add another 155g (1 cup) of flour and continue mixing another 2 minutes, then add the onion. Switch to the dough hook and add another 250g (2 cups) of flour. Mix on low speed until the flour is incorporated, then add the final 175g (1.25 cups) of flour a little at a time. Knead on low speed until the dough is moist, soft and slightly sticky (about 5 minutes). Cover the bowl loosely with a towel or plastic and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes.

3)  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and brush it lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough out onto the prepared sheet and spread the dough out until it's about 1" thick. Cover loosely with a towel and let it rise at room temperature until double (about 1 hour).

4)  With your fingertips make indentations in the surface of the dough, almost to the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, cover and let rise at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

5)  Preheat the oven to 425°F (with the baking stone in it if you have one). Sprinkle the bread with kosher salt (and herbs if you want), and bake until brown 20-25 minutes. (I usually take the bread out of the pan after 10-15 minutes and bake directly on the stone for the remaining time.)  Cool on a rack and serve warm.

If you like the rosemary flavor, you can also add some chopped rosemary directly to the dough when you add the onion.




wizarddrummer's picture


Graid's picture

I had a thread about my quest to make tasty onion bread here before. Others have pointed out some of the reasons to use dehydrated onion, but the main reason I ended up using it is that if you put a bunch of raw onions in bread, it tastes like ordinary bread, with a very sort of mild boiled onion sort of flavour from the onions, which are also usually a bit soggy. Onions get kind of mild when oven baked, doubly so, I'd say, when they are being baked inside of bread. The flavour isn't strong enough, it's almost a watery sort of taste. 

I didn't find that putting dehydrated onions in gave the right onion bread flavour until I followed someone's great advice on here to first of all oven roast the dehyrdated onion until golden brown (which only takes about 4 minutes). Made like that, the onion bread had a strong onion flavour similar to the onion bread you can buy in bakeries and so forth.


wizarddrummer's picture

good to know...

ehanner's picture

I first started using re hydrated onions when our resident Jewish Bakery expert, Norm Berg, showed us how to make his onion rolls. To enhance the aroma and flavor in these rolls, Norm said to use the water used to re hydrate the onions in the dough mix. I start by boiling a cup of water and dumping 1/4 cup of dry high quality onions (Penzies) in and allow it to set until they become soft. This takes about 30 minutes. Drain and reserve the water for use in the final dough.                   

Norms Onion Rolls are out of this world. Once you try these, there won't be any questions about why you did whatever. Trust me on this one.