Balsamic Onion Baguettes
This was a bread brought out of necessity. I had the hunger to bake last night, and it needed satiated. But shock! Only a little strong flour left and I didn’t quite feel like cake, so I checked out the fridge. Onions and eggs.
You can make fantastic bread without bread flour, and it’s even easier if you enrich it with eggs. This far richer dough, when combined with the sweetness of the onions and the acidity of the vinegar, is sublime. I made it into a sort-of short baguette shape so that it can sliced into easily enjoyable portions, and this gives a great opportunity to demonstrate the easy (and best…) way to shape baguettes. Enjoy with strong cheese or tomato-based soups.
400g plain white flour
100g strong white flour
14g fast action yeast
Around 250g milk
40g caster sugar
1 large (or 2 small) white onions
A good, good slug of olive oil
3 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
Method (makes 2 short baguettes)
1. Combine the flours, yeast and salt in a large bowl, keeping the salt and yeast separate.
2. Into a set of scales, break the two eggs and make up the total weight to 350g using milk. Mix in 40g sugar and place on a low heat (always stirring) until just tepid.
3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until a soft dough and knead for about 10 minutes or until it begins to become smooth. Cover and leave to rest whilst you prepare the onions.
4. Thinly slice the onions into lengths and soften in a pan on a medium heat with the olive oil. They should reach the consistency you might find suitable for enjoying on hotdogs; slightly browned with some bite left. Then chuck in all the balsamic and reduce until sticky, just another couple of minutes. Leave them to cool for about 10-15 minutes.
5. Once the onions are just warm, combine them into the dough until the colour is consistent throughout. Cover and rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
6. Take your risen dough and shape it on a heavily floured surface into a short baguette shape (one that will fit in your oven… a mistake I’ve made too many times) – here is my guide on how to do it:
7. Prove for a final 30-40 minutes on a heavily floured tea towel, separating each baguette with a fold (so they all support each other). Once proved, bake in a preheated oven, preferably on a hot baking stone, for 20-25 minutes at 210 degrees. Don’t worry if it colours quickly, this is to be expected due to the presence of eggs – you want it quite dark!