Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread with Caramelized Onions

Free-form herby focaccia bread with toasty caramelized onions and sun-dried tomatoes takes you to Italy.

You are cruising on a bike through a small country-side Italian town with cobblestone streets with a nice brisk autumn wind. Just cool enough for a light sweater. Your sweater is probably canary yellow or pea green, by the way…naturally. Time constraints and your to-do list are far from your mind while you inhale deeply and sigh out your sense of satisfaction. You can breathe here.  You feel connected. Connected to the country-side and to the people enjoying their coffee outside of the small quaint shops.

Baking this focaccia bread is wonderful. From the scent of fresh chopped basil, onions sautéing and yeast activating to working the dough with your bare hands and waiting patiently while the bread fills the whole house with warm, comforting smells.  The process of baking this bread is relaxing and provides much needed sensory stimulus to focus the brain and calm the nerves.

Enjoy this bread with a satisfying meal and a glass of wine. Enjoy the crispy texture and buttery flavor of the caramelized onions, the salty, herbed rustic bread and your trip to the Italian country-side. Enjoy your company – your friends and family.  Bake, eat, repeat.

Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread with Caramelized Onions

Author: Julia


For the Foccacia Dough:

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water between 100 and 110 degrees
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • ¾ cup fresh basil leaves chopped, loosely packed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Focaccia Toppings:

  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion sliced
  • 2.5 tablespoons grapeseed oil separated
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes patted dry
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. In a bowl or mixer, stir together the water, yeast and honey. The water should be between 100 and 110 degrees. Allow the mixture to sit about 10 minutes until the yeast looks puffy and smells pungent. In a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, salt and dried rosemary. Stir together to combine. Add the flour mixture to the mixer along with the grapeseed oil.
  2. If you’re doing this by hand, mix the ingredients together well until you can form a ball. Turn the ball of dough out onto a floured surface, press the chopped basil leaves into the dough and kneed the dough until smooth, about 8 to 10 minutes. If you’re using a Kitchen Aid, simply use the dough hook attachment, turn the mixer on a medium setting (I use speed 4) and allow the hook to do the work for 10 minutes.
  3. Place the ball of dough in a bowl and allow it to sit covered (by plastic wrap or a kitchen towel) for 1 hour in a warm place; it should be twice the size you started out with after about an hour.
  4. To caramelize the onions, add half a tablespoon of grapeseed oil and a tablespoon of butter to a skillet and heat over medium. Add the onion and sauté, stirring frequently until translucent. Once onion is translucent, reduce heat to medium low and allow onions to brown, stirring every few minutes. Allowing the onions to wilt, turn completely brown and caramelize will take about 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  6. Prepare a lightly oiled baking sheet (a 9 x 13” works great, but no worries if yours is bigger). Turn the dough out onto the sheet and press it into the sheet with your palms until the dough meets the edges or until dough is about ¼” thick. Poke holes into the surface of the dough with your finger then drizzle 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil over it. Use your hands to evenly coat the dough with the oil. Allow the dough to sit another 10 to 20 minutes until it appears puffy and swollen again.
  7. Spread the parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper over the dough then spread the sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized onions on top, pressing them into the dough slightly. Bake in the oven until golden brown around the edges, about 15 minutes. Turn temperature down to 350 and bake another 5 minutes (until the center is cooked all the way through). Allow the bread to cool about 10 minutes then serve with dinner!

Recipe Notes

(Focaccia dough recipe adapted from Cookin Canuk)



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