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Caramelized onion and cheddar breadsticks recipe

onion cheddar breadsticks

May I just say, I love my new box of light! Following the Strobist's excellent instructions for photography on the cheap, in this case the  DIY $10 Macro Photo Studio, I transformed a cardboard box into, if not a thing of beauty itself, a thing that will give that "thing of beauty" quality to other things.

When I was a young'un, I moved from "Baja Oregon" to a very small coastal town in southwest Washington. A town where the locals joked, in some cases bragged, that, upon arriving, you should turn back your clock 20 years - to the '50s. I, being a child of the coolest artistic little beach towns in Baja Oregon, thought this was mildly amusing...for about 15 minutes.

I arrived in late-spring and my first summer there was, to put it mildly, not my best year. Two things saved me that wet, foggy summer. The first was a job at the local pizzeria, where Gina, a wise-cracking New Jersey girl — everyone swore we were sisters — taught me to toss rounds of dough high in the air and, much harder, catch them again. She also let me play with the brick oven. I loved Gina.

The second bit of salvation arrived one night when I met Becky and we instantly became BFF, before there even were BFF. This bread, made in loaves, was Becky's favorite. I baked some every week or so for years and years. Then Becky and I lost touch. I also mostly stopped baking this bread. Both sad things.

I recently found Becky again, via the marvels of the Internet, and invited her down to visit. The first thing she said, after a huge hug, was, "Did you make my favorite bread?" Of course, I had. And an extra loaf to take home. I believe she turned to her husband and said, "told ya!" but I may be imagining that part.

Becky's Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Breadsticks

Ingredient | US Volume | Metric Volume | US Weight | Metric Weight
onion diced | 1 large
olive oil for cooking onions
instant yeast | 4 1/2 tsp | 23 ml | 1/2 oz | 14 g
water | 1 1/2 cup | 350 ml | 12 oz | 335 g
bread flour | 6 cups | 1.45 liters | 27 oz | 750 g
milk | 1 cup | 235 ml | 8 oz | 225 g
butter | 1/4 cup | 60 ml | 2 oz | 55 g
cheddar cheese grated | 2 cups | 475 ml | 9 oz | 250 g
salt | 2 tsp | 10 ml | 1/2 oz | 15 g

Notes:
This bread can also be made as loaves or dinner rolls. Shape the dough as desired, let rise until doubled in size and bake ~20-25 min for rolls, ~40-45 min for loaves.

Half an hour before mixing the dough scald the milk (or bring it barely to a boil in the microwave if you prefer), add the butter and set aside to cool.

Chop the onions into small pieces. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Pour in enough olive oil to barely coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and sauté for 5-10 minutes, until they start to brown around the edges and look like this. Scrape the onions and oil into a bowl and set aside to cool. (This accomplishes two things: brings out wonderful complex flavors in the onion and reduces the amount of water in them. Compare the amount of onions before and after cooking. The amount of flour you need depends partly on how much water cooks out of the onions. Go figure.)

In mixing bowl, combine water, yeast, 2 cups of bread flour and mix for about 1 minute, just enough to make a wet mess. Set aside to rest until the milk is cool.

Have a cup of tea and come back in half an hour.

Mixing the dough
Add the cooled milk/butter, onions, and cheese to the mixing bowl along with 3 more cups of flour. Mix well, adding the last cup of flour a bit at a time until a softish dough forms. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for twenty minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured counter and knead by hand for 7-10 minutes. (If you are using a machine, mix on medium for ~3-4 minutes, adding some of the last cup of flour if needed, before turning out on floured counter and kneading for a minute or two.) The dough should be smooth and elastic.

Place dough in clean bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk.

Shaping breadsticks

cutting onion cheddar breadsticks

Divide dough in half, set aside one piece. Stretch the dough into a rough rectangle, letting it rest if the gluten is too tight and it springs back.

Cut dough into 3/4 inch wide strips using a knife, pizza cutter (they roll easily), or, my favorite, a plastic putty knife. Place breadsticks on a parchment lined baking sheet, either straight or twisted. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.

Baking

onion cheddar breadsticks

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Bake for 15 minutes. They should be golden brown, but will still be soft. They crisp up a bit as they cool and are best within a couple of hours of baking.

Note:
I just said these were best eaten the same day they are baked — maybe nabbed while still warm and eaten while running away from the baker. This is a fairly large recipe, however, because I usually make these for parties... meaning that I almost never bake them the same day as they will be eaten. I bake the day before or, if earlier, I freeze the baked breadsticks. They are small enough to go directly from the freezer to a 350F (175C) oven for ~5 minutes to thaw and crisp them up before serving. The room temperature ones only take a minute or two to warm up.

Flickr set: Onion Cheddar Breadsticks

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