If you haven't found Kitchen Play yet, you should go over there and check out the contest rules. But come back here, I'll be waiting ...
... are we back?
For those who want the short version, Kitchen Play hosts monthly contests where invited bloggers (like me!) each create dish that is a component of a complete meal. All the recipes revolve around a theme, which depends on the sponsor of the contest. When the Progressive Party menu is revealed, everyone else is invited to create dishes that are inspired by the originals. Those inspirations can be close to the original, or they can be wildly different, like turning a soup into a dessert.
During the month, bloggers post their recreated recipes on their blogs, with links back to Kitchen Play and to the sponsor for that month. It's not in the rules, but it would be nice if you also posted a link back to the recipe you've riffed off of (that would be me this month, right?)
The last link in the puzzle (hehe) is that you go back to the Kitchen Play menu and post a link to your own site right under the recipe you've chosen to riff off of. It sounds like a lot of links hither and yon, but it ties it all together for people who want to follow along from one place to another.
And that's it. You can modify as many dishes as you like to increase your chances of winning, and do all the posty-linky stuff for each one. There's one winner for each dish, and this month the prize is $100. Not a bad take for one little recipe, hmmm?
So now that we've got the housekeeping done, lets get on to my special part in all of this.
When I saw that I was tasked with the bread course, well, I was all over that. There's probably nothing that I can't work into, around or over bread, and this was no exception. The sponsor for this contest is The National Onion Association (NOA) which, by the way, is a much better name than if it was an organization (noo). So I just need to marry bread and onions.
Ah, onions. They're indispensable, right? There aren't too many dinners that don't start with me slicing, chopping, mincing, or dicing an onion. I've always loved onions. Even when I was a kid, I'd want a thick slice of raw onion on a hamburger AND some grilled as well. What do you mean, either one? Gimme both!
To get the scoop on what sort of onions I was supposed to use for the progressive party recipe, I called the association (which happens to be not too far from where I live) and we had a nice chat. While onions are available pretty much all year long in our grocery stores, spring is the time when we start transitioning from storage onions to fresh dry bulb onions.
Fresh dry bulb onions have more moisture than storage onions and they're sweeter, as well, so these are the onions you want to look for when you're considering a raw application, like salad. If you're looking for an even sweeter onion, there are the special sweet varieties that are usually larger and flatter in shape. But just because they're better for raw use, it doesn't mean you can't cook with them. I know a few people who prefer sweet onions for cooking. Radical, huh?
So, for this bread course, I could have taken the obvious route and made some sort of crostini with an onion topping, or onion-covered pizza. I decided to do the un-obvious and put the onions right into the bread.
This recipe calls for 1/2 cup of caramelized onions. I'm not talking about light golden onions that you might find on top of your burger. These are the deep brown onions that can take an hour of stirring on the stove top. Or, make a huge batch in the crock pot and you've got caramelized onions that you'll find yourself using for everything.
If you want to make enough caramelized onions for just this recipe, start with about 3/4 pound of onions or check out the recipe for easy crock pot caramelized onions.
I was giddy happy with this bread, the texture was soft and moist, and the bits of onion and cheese disappeared into the bread, leaving behind a wonderful flavor.
Rye Bread with Caramelized Onions and Swiss Cheese
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) medium rye flour
2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour
1 cup (2 1/2 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup caramelized onions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
Extra flour, for dusting
In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the water, yeast, sugar, and rye flour. Stir to combine and set aside for 10 minutes.
The mixture will be bubbly and foamy.
Add the bread flour, cheese, and onions. Knead with the dough hook until the dough is elastic. The dough will be sticky; that's fine. Add the salt and butter and continue kneading until both are fully incorporated.
Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and turn the dough out. Knead by hand, for a minute, adding just as much flour to keep the dough from sticking. Form the dough into a ball.
Drizzle some olive oil into your stand mixer bowl (or another clean bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it over several times to make sure it's coated with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until the dough has doubled, about an hour.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or sprinkle with cornmeal.
Flour your work surface again and turn the dough out. Knead it very briefly, and form it into a ball. Place it on your prepared baking sheet seam-side down. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled, about 30 minute.
Remove the plastic wrap, slash as desired, and bake at 350 degrees until browned, about 40 minutes.
Move the loaf to a rack to cool completely before slicing.
This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.