Too Much Food


New Resolution, Old Recipe: Savory Braided Onion Loaf

I was recently going through my old photos and realized I have a huge backlog of food-related photos that I have yet to write about; recipes I’ve attempted, places I’ve visited and restaurants I’ve tried. I know I haven’t been the most diligent of bloggers, but I hope to change that!

If you haven’t noticed already, I’ve added a nifty recipe index (for now, recipes are sorted alphabetically, I hope to have versions sorted by ingredient, type and hopefully even a thumbnail index in the near future).

Now back to the food . . .

At Home: Savory Braided Onion Loaf

I baked this loaf when I first started getting interested in baking breads from scratch; I remember perusing The Fresh Loaf for hours on end, reading about other baker’s experiences and learning from their advice. I saw this recipe for a braided onion loaf using powdered onion soup mix (which we had a packet of, strangely enough, as we never buy those things usually?) and I had to try it.

A note on the recipe: The measurements given (and the ones I used at the time) are in US/English measurements, not in metric. At the time, I wasn’t tuned into the advantages of baking by weight rather than volume; I know a pet peeve of mine (and for some of you too) is when a bread recipe doesn’t give metric measurements. I’ve included the metric conversions, but keep in mind that depending on the types and brands of flours, sugars, and fats used, your mileage will vary. Just use your baker’s intuition and adjust accordingly.

At Home: Savory Braided Onion Loaf

Savory Braided Onion Loaf
For the poolish:

  • 1 cup (120g) all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup (236g) water
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

For the dough:

  • All of the poolish
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups (360g – 420g) all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup (244g) milk
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (24g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) butter or shortening
  • 1 1 3/8 oz. package of onion soup mix
  • 1 (60g) egg

For the egg wash:

  • 1 (60g) egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
The Procedure:

On the night prior to baking, in a large bowl, mix together the ingredients for the poolish. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.

The next morning, combine 2 cups (240g) of the flour, the yeast, sugar, and the onion soup mix. Mix in all of the previous night’s poolish, milk, egg, and butter, adding more flour if required to make a dough that is smooth, moist, tacky, but not sticky. This is an enriched straight-ish dough, so we’re not looking for a high-hydration artisan type of dough here.

Knead the dough (either by hand or by stand mixer) until proper gluten development is achieved (I always test using the windowpane method.) Place the dough into a greased bowl, mist lightly with oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes. This is the first fermentation.

After the first fermentation, remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a braid (the recipe on The Fresh Loaf has a good illustrated tutorial), or whatever shape you like. Cover the loaf with a towel or plastic wrap and allow it to double in size again, approximately 45 minutes. While you are waiting for the second fermentation, preheat the oven (and baking stone, if you have one) to 450F (230C).

Just before baking, mix together the ingredients for the egg wash and brush the top of the loaf lightly with the wash. Place the loaf into the hot oven, reducing the temperature to 375F (190C) after 5 minutes. Bake for another 30 minutes, rotating the loaf halfway through the baking time. If the bread starts to look to dark due to the glaze, tent the loaf with a piece of aluminum foil to prevent further browning.

The loaf is done when dark-golden brown and the inside temperature registers at least 190F (85C). Please please please always test the inside temperature of your breads as the last thing you want to do is cut open a beautiful-looking loaf to find a gooey, underbaked mass inside! Let it rest for at least an hour (the bread continues to cook as it’s cooling!) before slicing.


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