French Onion Pull-Apart Bread
Served warm out of the oven, pull-apart bread is an irresistible side dish that all of your dinner guests will be reaching for until it’s gone. In this recipe, the dough is mixed with sweet caramelized onions and nutty Gruyère cheese for maximum flavor.
- 4 Tbs. cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) olive oil, plus more for the bowl
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp. (1 package) active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 cups (19 oz./590 g) unbleached bread flour
- 1 cup (5 oz./155 g) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
- 1 1/2 cups (6 oz./180 g) grated Gruyère cheese
- Melted butter for brushing
In a sauté pan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and a large pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 30 minutes, adding a splash of water if necessary to keep the onions from sticking to the pan. Transfer the onions to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
In a small bowl, stir together 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) warm water (105° to 115°F/43° to 46°C) and the sugar and sprinkle with the yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the cooled onions and stir to combine.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the bread and all-purpose flours, 2 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Add the yeast and onion mixture and mix on very low speed until thoroughly combined. If the dough is wet and sticky, add more all-purpose flour 1 Tbs. at a time, beating after each addition.
When the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, add the garlic, 2 tsp. of the thyme and half of the cheese. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead by hand for 1 to 2 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball, brush it with a little olive oil and return it to the bowl. Cover with a towel and let rest in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 425°F (220°C). Brush a 2 3/4-quart Dutch oven or a pot of similar size with melted butter.
Punch down the dough. Return it to the floured work surface and knead a few times. Divide the dough into 10 pieces of equal size, and roll each piece into a ball. Arrange the dough balls evenly in the pot, overlapping them as necessary, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and the remaining 1/2 tsp. thyme. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 30 to 40 minutes.
Bake the bread for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C) and continue baking until the bread is brown and crusty, 20 to 25 minutes more. Transfer the pot to a wire rack, brush the tops of bread with the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil and let cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve the bread warm, allowing diners to break off the rolls at the table. Makes 10 rolls.
Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen