I get the weirdest cravings sometimes and they always hit me at the oddest hours. Normally, it’s right before bed, just after I’ve brushed my teeth and I’m already tucked in. Which I think is just a cruel joke the universe likes to play on me. It’s not like it’s possible to satisfy such a craving so late at night. These yearnings are never sweet. They always end up being savory, cheesy, and fried and bread is always involved in some way, shape or form. The other night I had an intense craving for pizza, but not your every day normal pizza with sauce and what not. This was more of a heartier pizza…like fluffy bread topped with cheese and onions. The kind of onions that are so caramelized they’re like jam. Then out of nowhere I was like, wouldn’t it be awesome if the bread was made with beer?! How delicious would that be? Then I told myself to go to sleep because hello, it was like 11:30PM and I had to wake up early to work and take care of my nephew. The craving eventually went away, but we now have this Caramelized Onion Beer Focaccia to show for it. Apparently dreams do come true.
Let’s start by talking beer. This focaccia is made with beer instead of water, which impacts just the slightest flavor boost to the bread, and I’m here for it. You want to treat the beer the same way you would water. It needs to be warm, but not hot.
**Tip: You don’t want a very deep flavored beer for this because it’ll overpower everything. I used a very light beer, PBR but anything similar would work.**
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast until well combined. Then add the warm beer and mix until evenly blended. While the machine is running, add in enough of the remaining flour as needed to create a smooth soft dough.
**Tip: I’m using a pizza yeast which has more flavor and rises faster, but if you can’t find it, you can use rapid rise yeast instead!**
Once the dough comes together, knead on moderate speed for 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and then cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Let rest in a warm spot while the onions cook.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Once melted, add the thinly sliced red onions and season with salt, pepper and chili flakes. Cook until caramelized, stirring often, for about 20 to 25 minutes.
While the onions cool, transfer the dough to an oiled quarter sized baking sheet. Then use your hands to stretch it out to cover the pan completely. Cover once again loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel, and let rest until slightly risen, about 15 minutes.
**Note: Make sure you keep a close eye on the onions and keep stirring them so that they don’t burn or stick to the bottom. You want them soft and deep golden brown.**
Top with shredded mozzarella, gruyere cheese, and caramelized onions. Bake in a preheated 500 degree F oven until golden brown and puffed up, about 12 to 15 minutes.
**Tip: If you want to ensure a perfectly crisp golden brown bottom on the focaccia, I like to preheat a pizza stone in the oven as it comes to temperature and then I’ll place the pan on the stone while it bakes.**
Carefully remove the focaccia from the oven and top with fresh thyme. Slice and serve while still warm.
Sprinkle the focaccia with grated parmesan and chili flakes right before serving, the way you would a pizza, which I guess this could qualify as that.
The best thing about this recipe is that you can serve it warm, outta the oven, or you can serve it at room temperature, which is great if you want to make it ahead of time. It’s also great cold from the fridge…but I’ve never turned down cold leftovers.
You can use the beer focaccia as a base and top it with whatever toppings you’d like. Simple parmesan or rosemary would be great or more complex toppings like olives and/or sundried tomatoes. Take your pick!
I hope you keep this recipe in mind when you’re planning out your game-day menu, and if you’re anything like me, your sole purpose for a game-day is the food. This beer bread is a definite game-day crowd pleaser. I better end this now before I continue saying game-day, which wouldn’t be great for any of us at this point.
- 1½ to 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) pizza crust yeast or rapid rise yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup warm beer
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for topping
- 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan (optional)
- To make the beer focaccia, in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar and ¾ teaspoon salt until well combined.
- Pour in the warm beer (it should be about 120 to 130 degrees F) and mix until well blended, about 1 minute. While the machine is running, add enough of the remaining flour as needed to create a smooth, slightly sticky dough, that has pulled away from the sides. Knead on moderate speed with the dough hook attachment for 4 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Allow to rest while the onions cook.
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil and butter. Once melted add the onions and season with remaining salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook until caramelized, stirring often, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Grease a quarter size baking sheet with the remaining oil and place in the dough. Using your hands, work the dough, stretching it out to cover the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and let rest for about 15 minutes to rise slightly.
- Cover the dough with the shredded cheese, and the caramelized onions. Bake until golden brown and puffed up, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with fresh thyme, parmesan, if desired and crushed red pepper flakes. Slice and serve immediately. Enjoy!