The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Whole Wheat with Caramelized Onions

isand66's picture

Whole Wheat with Caramelized Onions

  This was supposed to be a high extraction whole wheat loaf but I'm having trouble milling my flour course enough to actually have much bran left to sift out.  So, instead I basically used freshly milled whole wheat and added some fresh whole rye flour along with some whole spelt and a whole bunch of caramelized onions.

Usually I would only bulk ferment the dough for around 12 hours but I ended up bulk fermenting this one for around 36 hours which caused the onions to meld together in the final dough.  In hindsight I should have folded the onions in at a later time but I wasn't originally planning on baking this one 2 days later.

I built the starter up in 2 stages starting off with my AP 66% hydration mother starter and added WW and Rye.

The final bread came out very tasty with an unbelievably moist crumb from all of the onions and the high amount of water added to the dough.

Whole Wheat with Caramelized Onions (%)


Whole Wheat with Caramelized Onions (weights)


Levain Directions

Step 1

Mix all the levain ingredients together  for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled.  I used my proofer set at 83 degrees and it took about 4 hours.

Step 2

Mix the flour and water with all of the levain from step 1 and let it sit at room temperature again until it is doubled.  At this point you can either use it right away or put it in the refrigerator and use it the next 1 to 2 days.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours with the main dough water for about 1 minute.  Let the rough dough sit for about 20 minutes to an hour.  Next add the levain and salt and mix on low for 3 minutes and speed #2 for another 2 minutes or by hand for about 5 minutes.   Now add the caramelized onions and mix on low for 1 minute to incorporate them completely into the dough.  You should end up with a cohesive dough that is slightly tacky but very manageable.  Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.  (Since I used my proofer I only let the dough sit out for 1.5 hours before refrigerating).

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the dough and shape as desired.

The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature and will only rise about 1/3 it's size at most.  Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 550 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.


Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.

After 5 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 205 degrees.

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.





trailrunner's picture

Those are some lovely loaves. I just bet the fragrance was amazing !  What is that on the outside ?  Love the rustic look. I have never used onions in a bread but yours are very tempting. Bet a grilled ham and cheese would be very tasty on it. c

isand66's picture

Thanks Caroline.  Appreciate your kind words.

I sprinkled some oat bran on the inside of my baskets which gives them that rustic look and a little extra crunch. I love onions and it gives this bread a wonderful flavor.  It would have been even better had I been able to bake this after a one day autolyse instead of 2 but it's still a tasty loaf.

Happy Baking.

dabrownman's picture

a 100% whole grain bread - except for the AP in the starter.  This is Lucy's kind of formula and bread she likes so much !  Now you have to pumpernickel it.  The onions are even better when they are DaPumperized over a 10-12 hour bake :-)  Doing the Plotzaide Bake tomorrow.  Don't know how we missed this fine bake of yours the other day.

Well done and Happy Baking Ian

isand66's picture

thanks DA.  Looks like just about everyone missed this one but such is life.  I look forward to your Plotzade bake and seeing what you came up with.

I baked off some potato pretzel rolls this morning but I have to rebake them this weekend as I added too much water to the dough which made them more like pretzel bialys. They sure do taste good though.

Happy Baking DA.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Hey Ian.  Nice one!  I can only imagine how amazing it tastes with the caramelized onions.  Drool factor.

Enjoy a slice for me with a big hunk of extra aged cheddar and a beer.


isand66's picture

Thanks John.

Appreciate your comments.


golgi70's picture

I think the whole grain thing worked out nicely.  the sweet onions must have been nice against the red wheat.

grest bake


isand66's picture

Thanks Josh.

happy baking