This past Sunday was the Chicago Food Swap, which is one of my favorite local events to participate in. It’s really grown in popularity, to the point that yep I’m on the wait list for October because I forgot to sign up when registration opened yesterday. Fortunately, Emily is usually able to get at least part way through the wait list each month, so I’m crossing my fingers I’ll get in. I do my best to go each month when I’m around because it’s so inspiring to me as someone who loves creating (and eating) food.
This month was a little different. For the first time, the food swap had sponsors. Jarlsberg USA and Woolwich Dairy had samples available at the swap, and I an another swapper Serena were able to make our items with the cheese. I was assigned Woolwich Dairy (they reimbursed the cost of my cheese), and I was so happy to be making something with their goat cheese – which is one of my favorite foods.
The tough thing for me was narrowing down what to make. I use goat cheese in pizzas and dips and omelettes and quiches and more. I wanted to create something unique that would also travel well. Somehow, I didn’t think that anyone was going to want to swap for leftover pizza! Instead, I hit upon the idea of baking the goat cheese into a bread.
Because cheese AND bread? It’s hard to find a better combination. Except I decided to add some caramelized onions for a little more savory appeal, which of course did add to the yumminess of the combo.
I was lucky. My first attempt at the rolls was a success. I actually had to hide the first batch in my freezer so I didn’t eat them all myself. I made them into rolls, which are great for serving with dinner, but this would be wonderful as bread loaves. The recipe makes approximately 12 largish rolls, which would translate into four loaves. You’d need to adjust for a longer bake time – probably 25-30 minutes – but otherwise the directions remain the same.
Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Rolls
1 1/2 c very warm water (not more than 115 degrees though)
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t active dry yeast (a packet contains 2 1/4 t for reference)
3 1/2 c bread flour
1 T olive oil
1 large sweet onion
4 oz fresh goat cheese – like a Chevrai, the kind that comes in logs
Start by caramelizing your onion. This can be done ahead of time, with the caramelized onions refrigerated for a couple days if needed. Start by heating a heavy pan (not a nonstick pan) on medium heat with no oil. Slice the growth end off your onion, then place it flat side down. Cut your onion in half through the root end, but keep the root end intact to make cutting easier. Peel away the papery skin.
Slice through the onion, cutting it into quarters but leaving the root end still intact. Then begin cutting very thin slices of onion. This will give you beautiful pieces to caramelize.
Go ahead and add the oil to your pan. When it starts shimmering, add the onion and turn the heat down slightly. You want to cook your onion low and slow to give it the sweetest taste and ensure you don’t burn it. It will start out with what looks like way too much onion in your pan, but it cooks down. Walk away from your stove. The secret to great caramelized onions is to essentially leave them be.
You’ll want to cook the onions on medium low heat (depending on your stove – you may be able to do it on medium but my stove tends to run hot), stirring only every 20 minutes or so to redistribute the onions in the pan and ensure each slice is being caramelized. Cook for up to two hours, until your onions have reduced in volume and are a beautiful golden caramel color. Remove from the heat and let cool, then give it a quick rough chop if you want your onion pieces a little smaller.
In a large bowl – or bucket in my case – add the water, salt, and yeast. Add 2 cups of the flour and stir with a spatula. Add the caramelized onion and stir to distribute before adding the remaining flour and stirring. The dough will be thick but slightly sticky. This won’t feel like your typical bread dough, and that’s to be expected.
Give your goat cheese a rough chop so that it separates a little bit, then add it to the bread dough you just made, again stirring to ensure that it’s evenly distributed. Cover with either a towel or lid, leaving a little room for the dough to breathe if you are using a plastic lid.
When your dough has doubled in volume, you’ll want to start forming your rolls (or loaves). Place some flour on your working surface and sprinkle some more over your dough. Sprinkle a healthy amount of cornmeal on your baking sheet (if making rolls) or pizza peel (if making loaves). This is what will keep your dough from sticking, and you will need more than normal because the cheese makes the dough moister.
Gently grab a baseball size amount for the rolls or grapefruit size for loaves. Using as little effort as possible, shape them into balls, sprinkling on a little more flour if needed. Do just one bake at a time – so 6 rolls or one loaf – placing the rounds onto your cornmeal covered surface. Let rise for another thirty minutes. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Near the end of the rise time, prepare your egg wash. In a small bowl, add the egg and about 1 tablespoon of water. Use a fork to whisk together until it’s evenly incorporated. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the rolls or loaf with the egg wash.
Bake your rolls for 15 minutes (25-30 for a loaf). Once one batch of rolls goes into the oven, start the rising process for the next batch so that they are finished rising not too long after the first batch comes out of the oven.
Notes: You could use premade dough from a store and knead in the onions and cheese, which would only require one rise, though it would take longer than 30 minutes because the dough is cold. You can also refrigerate your dough before it rises and store it in your fridge overnight to rise or up to two days before baking it. Again, you would need to give it a longer rise time – at least 45 minutes – and the rolls will be slightly smaller than they would be if you bake them off immediately.
- 1 1/2 c very warm water
- 1 1/2 t salt
- 1 1/2 t active dry yeast (a packet contains 2 1/4 t for reference)
- 3 1/2 c bread flour
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion
- 4 oz goat cheese
- 1 egg
- Heat heavy pan on medium.
- Slice the growth end off onion, then place flat side down. Cut onion in half through the root end. Peel away papery skin.
- Cut very thin slices of onion starting at the growth end and working towards each root end.
- Add oil to pan, then add onion and turn the heat down to low/medium low. Leave onions to cook, stirring no more than once or twice. Cook for 30 minutes, until onions have reduced in volume and are a beautiful golden caramel color. Remove from heat and let cool, then give onions a quick rough chop if you choose.
- In a large bowl, add water, salt, and yeast. Add 2 cups of flour and stir with a spatula. Add caramelized onion and stir to distribute, then add remaining flour and stir. The dough will be thick but slightly sticky.
- Roughly chop goat cheese, then add to bread dough and stir. Cover with a towel or lid.
- Let rise 60 minutes until doubled in volume, then form rolls. Place flour on work surface and sprinkle more over dough. Sprinkle baking sheet liberally with cornmeal.
- Gently grab a baseball size amount for each roll. Using as little effort as possible, shape into balls, sprinkling on a little more flour if needed. Place 6 rounds onto each cornmeal covered baking sheet. Let rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
- Near the end of the rise time, prepare egg wash. In a small bowl, add egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Whisk with a fork. Use a pastry brush to gently brush the tops of the rolls or loaf with egg wash.
- Bake rolls for 15 minutes.
You could use premade dough from a store and knead in the onions and cheese, which would only require one rise, though it would take longer than 30 minutes because the dough is cold. You can also refrigerate your dough before it rises and store it in your fridge overnight to rise or up to two days before baking it. Again, you would need to give it a longer rise time - at least 45 minutes - and the rolls will be slightly smaller than they would be if you bake them off immediately.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 roll
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 232 Total Fat: 5g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 20mg Sodium: 348mg Carbohydrates: 39g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 2g Protein: 8g