Autumn Is for Ovens.

New York is gray and drizzly today: perfect weather for a cozy afternoon indoors, watching black-and-white movies, puttering in the kitchen, and maybe cuddling up with a sanity-challenged feline or two.

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Sadly, work beckons instead, but if you happen to be lucky enough to have a few hours at your disposal, might I suggest a cheesy, oniony, pull-apart bread to warm things up?

There’s nothing like the smell of fresh-baked bread to brighten a dreary day, and this one is no exception. Buttery, crumbly biscuit-style dough bookends pockets of gooey cheese (the recipe calls for Gruyère; I used fontina), sweet, nearly caramelized onions, and, if you don’t mistakenly assume you have them in your cupboard, like I did, poppy seeds. The dough is very sticky—you need quite a bit of flour to knead and compile the accordion-style loaf—but the mess is well worth it. This is by no means health food, but it’s officially fall. Such things are allowed.

Pull-Apart Cheesy Onion Bread
By Grace Parisi | Food & Wine, September 2009

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield: One 9-inch loaf

1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, 1 stick cubed
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup coarsely shredded Gruyère cheese (3 ounces)
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Butter a 9-by-4 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. In a large skillet, melt the 1/2 stick of uncubed butter; pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into a small bowl and reserve. Add the chopped onion to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until it is softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the poppy seeds and season with salt and pepper. Scrape the onion mixture onto a plate and refrigerate for 5 minutes, until cooled slightly. Stir in the Gruyère.

2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the cubed butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Add the buttermilk and pulse 5 or 6 times, just until a soft dough forms.

3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times. Pat or roll the dough into a 2-by-24-inch rectangle. Spread the onion mixture on top. Cut the dough crosswise into 10 pieces. Stack 9 pieces onion side up, then top with the final piece, onion-side down. Carefully lay the stack in the prepared loaf pan and brush with the reserved butter.

4. Bake the loaf in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, until it is golden and risen. Let the bread cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding and serving.

Make Ahead: The unmolded loaf can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. Rewarm before serving.
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4 thoughts on “Autumn Is for Ovens.

  1. Tammy says:

    “…might I suggest a cheesy, oniony, pull-apart bread to warm things up?” Um…yes, please!

  2. Paul says:

    This post inspired me to turn on my oven last weekend. I ended up with a beautiful roasted pork shoulder, butternut squash, herb roasted potatoes, baked green beans. Delicious! I didn’t get around to cheesy bread but I think you put subliminal pork messages in this post.

    • Maya says:

      Always a safe assumption, Paul. We’re kind of pork fiends around these parts; even if we don’t say the word, you know we’re thinking it!

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