Focaccia with stewed onion

Italians can’t let a day go by without bread. With this focaccia, you want to knead it until it’s nice, soft and sticky. After baking, it’s topped with stewed onions cooked in red wine.



  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3red or brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 3–4sprigs thyme
  • pinch of salt flakes
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tbsp vincotto or balsamic vinegar
  • Dough
    • 1 x 7 g sachet dried yeast
    • 380 m l lukewarm water
    • 2 tsp sugar or honey
    • 3⅓ cups(500 g) plain, type ‘00’ or baker’s flour
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 tsp salt flakes


  • Standing time 5 minutes
  • Proving time 3 hours 20 minutes
  1. To make the dough, dissolve the yeast in the water and stand for 5 minutes. Add the honey and mix well.
  2. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl, pour in the yeast liquid and start mixing with a wooden spoon. Add the olive oil and salt, then tip the dough onto a floured cooking bench and knead for 8–10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and shiny. If you have a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, you can let your appliance do the work for you in half the time.
  3. Whichever method you use, the dough should feel slightly sticky. If it seems way too wet, add 1 tablespoon flour. Likewise, if it’s too dry, add a little olive oil or water. All flours tend to vary slightly, even within the same brand, and you have to let your instinct guide you.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball, then cover it with a moist tea towel and rest for 20 minutes. After this time, you will notice the dough has become shiny and elastic. Stretch it with your hands to form a rectangle, then fold it into three and shape it into a ball. Place the ball in an oiled bowl, cover with a moist tea towel and leave to prove for 1 ½–2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Take the dough out of the bowl, flatten it gently with your hands and fold into three again. Rest the dough in a well-oiled baking dish (about 20 cm x 30 cm) for 1 hour or until airy, puffy and risen by one third. Using your fingers, gently push the dough to cover the baking dish, then dimple the surface with fingerprints.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the onion. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the onion, thyme and a pinch of salt, then reduce the heat to medium–low and cook for 8–10 minutes, stirring gently, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the sugar and vincotto or vinegar and cook for another 2–3 minutes, then cover with a lid and cook over low heat for 10  minutes. Set aside.
  7. Preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced).
  8. Spoon the stewed onion over the focaccia and bake for 20–25 minutes or until golden and puffy.

• This focaccia dough works just as well topped with cherry tomatoes and herbs.

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.