The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Date Caramelized Onion Bread

isand66's picture

Sourdough Date Caramelized Onion Bread

  I've made a similar bread before and loved the way the dates add a natural sweetness to the bread.  This time I decided to add some more natural sweetness with some caramelized onions.

I made one large miche style loaf but you can easily make 2 loaves out of this formula.

The final bread as before came out great with a moderately open crumb and a nice dark chewy crust.  The dates really add such a unique pleasant flavor to the overall bread and that combined with the sweetness of the caramelized onions really make this a bread worth trying.


Sour Dough Date Bread Act 3 (%)

Sour Dough Date Bread Act 3 (weights)

Download the BreadStorm file here.



Levain Directions

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.   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.

Date Preparation

Make sure there are no pits in the dates.  Simmer the dates in 200 grams of water until they are soft.  After you remove them from the heat, add 100 grams of cold water and let the dates sit until they come back down to room temperature.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours with the remainder of the water for about 1 minute.  Let the rough dough sit for about 20 minutes to an hour  (Note: I ended up letting the flour and water mixture sit for about 20 hours since while mixing the dough and cooking dinner I managed to burn my hand and had to go to the Emergency room!).  Next add the dates, butter and salt and mix on low for 2 minutes and speed #2 for another 2 minutes or by hand for about 6 minutes.   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.  I made 1 large Miche for this bake.

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 1 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.




nmygarden's picture

Ian, this bread looks wonderful! Check out the slashes! I wouldn't have thought to combine dates and onions, but caramelized onions make sense and surely adds to the flavor party.

I've had a package of Kamut in my freezer for months and just used it last week - made mkhamer, as recently posted by Anne-Marie, and ran short on semolina, so subbed the Kamut. The bread turned out very well, but I'm not sure what differences to expect with Kamut. Why did you choose to use it for your bread this time?

I hope your hand is healing well. Take care,


isand66's picture

Thank you Cathy.  Glad you like it.  I highly recommend you give this one a try as the dates do really add such a wonderful sweetness to the dough.

In regards to the Kamut, I have used it often and find it similar to Durum wheat but it usually has a slightly stronger nutty flavor.  You could certainly interchange the two in this recipe without an issue.  I used it in this recipe just to add a little extra flavor to the bread.

The hand is doing okay now.  It is in the blistering stage but overall it wasn't as bad as it looked when it happened.

Happy Baking and Easter Holiday.


trailrunner's picture

So sorry..I have had bad burns but managed to avoid the ER. Your breads always look so wonderful. Have you tried date syrup ? I was in a food store/deli in Las Vegas last year and bought a bottle. It is lovely and adds the nicest flavor to breads. I never soak my dates...just slice each date in 1/4ths and fold them in on the last s&f. I usually have a pretty wet dough and they take up the extra and it all balances out. I use kamut all the time since I learned about it from you long sure is a wonderful flour. Still haven't invested in a mill. Can't seem to convince myself to spend that much...always need a new biking something LOL !  Take care and happy baking !  c

isand66's picture

Thanks Caroline.  In hindsight I probably could have avoided the ER and the $100 deductible but figured it was better to be safe than sorry.  I had almost done the same stupid thing a month before but that time only touched the burning handle for a second :(.

I have not had a chance to try date syrup and will have to look for it this weekend at Whole Foods or the other local places I shop. I'm sure it will be a welcome addition to my never ending baking supply room :).   I will have to try and adding the dates in without soaking next time.  Thanks for the tip.  I actually remember someone else suggesting the same thing but it was a while ago and the memory is not getting any better :).

You should try and get a mill one of these days.  I am hoping to buy a new one myself and if I do I will let you know and I will be happy to make a good deal with you :).  It certainly can be expensive when you have multiple hobbies.  I spend a fortune on plants for the garden each season as well as dog and cat food and vet bills for the furry clan.

Hope to see one of your posts soon.  Enjoy the spring weather.


trailrunner's picture

That would be a very generous offer....let me know if/when you decide to upgrade. I have been baking just not posting ! I am working my way through Bread...have had it for years and barely scraped the surface. Decided that David's posts referring to it should move me to try more formulas. Have had great success with the rye and am enjoying the sandwiches. It is only the two of us so I can't bake very often. Will make sure and post the next time. Glad the hand is doing well. Get an aloe plant with some of that plant money :) and more pot holders/gloves !!  c

isand66's picture

I have plenty of pot holders and gloves.....I even took it out and put it on the counter next to the stove so i wouldn't forget to use it.  I have to learn not to cook dinner and mix up a bread dough at the same time :).

I will certainly let you know about the mill when and if I'm ready to upgrade.  Someone is sending me another mill that attaches to a Kitchen Aid to test so I may actually have that one available as well :).

trailrunner's picture

for the young alert mind :)  Be careful !!  c

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Gorgeous loaf and interesting flavor combo! I'm gonna keep this one in my mind. I read adding some balsamic vinegar to caramelized onions results to even more sweetness.

I hope your hand is well. I am also under healing process at this time, I severely cut the tip of my ring finger when the dull knife slipped while cutting potatoes that even typing is difficult. I hope the best for us.

Great job and take care!


isand66's picture

Thanks Job!

I hope you get a chance to try this soon.  If you can't get your hands on all of the flours I used, no worries as it will come out great anyway I'm sure.  I do actually add balsamic many times when caramelizing the onions but this time the onions came out so sweet it wasn't needed.  I caramelized 2 large onions in just some olive oil on low heat for about 1.5 hours. I just added what was left into some scrambled eggs and had it for breakfast with a piece of toast from this loaf.  Very yummy ;).

Sorry to hear about your finger.  I know that has to be painful not to mention a pain in the you know what!  My hand is doing well and I hope you recover soon as well.

Happy baking and cooking.  Look forward to seeing your next post.



Reynard's picture

Oh Ian, that sounds positively painful. Hope you are on the mend. Sending healing vibes from me and the furry girls xxx

The bread looks great. Wouldn't have thought that dates and onions would make a good combo, but hey, what do I know? ;-)

BTW, managed to get my mitts on some durum flour, so have been playing around with that. Baked a lovely 30% durum bread yesterday, and well, mum and I have almost completely demolished it already...

isand66's picture

Thanks for the well wishes.  Hand is okay now, but I had a nasty reaction to the tetanus shot they gave me which has made me feel like crap all week.  Can't seem to catch a break :)

Do try this one if you can get some dates.  It has such a wonderful flavor and it's hard to stop eating it. 

Glad to hear your durum bread came out great.  I love durum breads too!

Happy Baking!


Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

... to look at, and I'm quite sure it is marvelous to taste too! So many breads to try, and so little time. Sigh...

isand66's picture

Thanks for your kind words.  It's worth using dates in one of your bakes when you get a chance.  I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Happy Baking.

dabrownman's picture

side dish for dinner!  Gad the hand is getting better.  Another fine bake Ian.  This has to be tasty with the dates, onions and Kamut and other grains.  Very nice scoring on this one too!  The yellow color reminds me of yellow Easter Peeps.  I was reading in the paper that it would take 12.7 quadrillion peeps to fill the Grand Canyon.  Who thinks these things up?

Well done Ian and Lucy sends her best to  the Furry Ones,

Happy baking 

isand66's picture

Thanks for the laugh DA!  My wife managed to take a photo of my Jason Pierre Paul club hand at the Emergency room at posted it on FB!  One has to laugh at oneself or at least let your dogs and cats laugh at you :).

I'm glad you like this one.  Maybe not as whole grain as your creations, but it sure was tasty and came out pretty good even with the unintentional 24 hour autolyse of the flour.

You should make a Peep bread for Easter now that you mention it and then Lucy could chase it around the pool :)

Max and Lexi and the gang say hello to their sister from another state and wish you a happy Purim and Easter.