I did it!!! I made something with yeast (and herbs)!! I have honestly never tried to make a yeast recipe before, because it has totally freaked me out! So when this Fiesta Friday Challenge came up, I gave myself a serious talking to, and decided it was time to get over this phobia. So, where did I turn? Well Youtube, of course. I watched a whole bunch of people making breads and pizza doughs and after a few hours, felt like it was something that I could do! And yeah! I am so happy with the results! I made this pie for some friends and it was unanimous, I should make it again.
I searched around a lot before deciding on the dish. I hummed and hawed and tossed about many ideas, but then I found this recipe on Epicurious. It just looked like a good starting point for someone who had never baked with yeast before. Also, I just happen to love onion pie, so that sealed the deal. Apparently it is inspired by a dish called Zwiebelkuchen (onion cake), a southern German specialty that came to America with European settlers and became a staple in Pennsylvania Dutch homes, where it is known as Zwiwwelkuche. The original recipe called for ¼ pound of bacon to be combined with the onions. I really wanted to eat something less rich, and one of my guests was a vegetarian, so I decided to leave the bacon out. I thought that the addition of some fresh thyme would give the pie a lovely flavour without the richness of bacon. I think it really worked.
I have to admit that I had a few nail-biting moments, like when I added the yeast to the warm milk and it immediately formed a little ball! Ah, what to do now? I tried to separate it with a spoon, but with little luck. Finally, I just decided to leave it alone and eventually the little foamy bubbles started to appear like they were supposed to. The best part was when I lifted the towel after the resting period and discovered that the dough had actually risen! I felt a little like a magician and was already dreaming about the other yeast recipes that I would like to try! The other thing that I really enjoyed was that wonderful rich, yeasty fragrance that wafted through my kitchen as the pie was baking. Really, there is not other fragrance like it.
The crust of the pie is a bit crunchy on the outside and a bit chewy on the inside and all of this is perfect against the rich creaminess of the onion filling. Since I have made this pie, I have been dreaming up all sorts of other fillings. I am so thankful for the challenge because it has opened up a whole bunch of doors and given me tons of new ideas! So thanks to you Angie ( The NoviceGardener) and Catherine ( at Catherine Cuisine) for organizing this fun challenge! Sometimes we need a little nudge to make us grow and I feel that has definitely happened for me.
I served this as a first course, but it is really so rich that I would serve it as a main course accompanied by a fresh green salad.
Golden Onion Pie
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm whole milk (105 – 115° F)
¼ teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
½ stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 ½ pounds onions, thinly sliced
½ stick unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup sour cream
2 large egg yolks
1 ½ tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
Stir together yeast, milk and sugar in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in a bowl to mix by hand) and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)
Add flour, salt, egg and butter and mix at low speed (or stir) until a dough forms. Increase speed to medium high and beat for 3 minutes (or knead by hand for 5 minutes.)
Sprinkle dough lightly with flour and cover bowl with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth.) Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 ½ – 2 hours.
Make filling while dough rises:
Sauté onions in butter with salt and pepper in a large, heavy skillet. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 20 minutes.
Remove lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions turn a golden colour, about 20 – 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
Whisk together sour cream, egg yolks and thyme and stir into onions.
Preheat oven to 375° with rack in middle.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface, with a lightly floured rolling pin, into a 14 – inch round. Fit dough into a 9 – inch springform pan, stretching dough to hang over the edge.
Spread filling in the pan. Fold edges of dough over the filling, leaving some of the filling exposed in the centre. Let pie stand 20 minutes at room temperature.
Bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 1 ¼ hours. Cool slightly before serving.
Dough can be allowed to rise slowly, in bowl covered with plastic wrap, in refrigerator for 8 – 12 hours. Bring to room temperature before using.
Onion mixture can by made 3 days ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before adding sour cream and egg yolks.
Pie can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat uncovered, at 350° oven for 30 minutes.