Week 113: Caramelised onions and chilli sourdough loaf

After a week of plain sourdough for breakfast I figure it is time to add some flavouring to my next loaf. While chatting with a friend the other day, I got the inspiration to add my favourite savoury condiment – “chilli padi”! For those who have never tried that, it is a mini chilli pepper which is super spicy. And to balance the heat, I decided to caramelised the leftover onions in my pantry.

Makes 1 loaf with approximately 6 servings


60g active starter dough

45g dark rye flour

125g wholemeal flour

300g bread flour

1 + 1 tbsp olive oil

10g salt

3 medium onions

4 chilli padis

Ground cumin to taste


1) The morning before you are going to bake the loaf, feed the active sourdough starter with the rye flour and 45g of water.

2) Stir to mix, then cover the bowl with cling wrap, poking some holes to allow it to breathe. Set in a warm place for about 12 hours.

3) The mixture should be bubbly and the smell of fermentation should be quite apparent.

4) Add to the mixture the bread flour, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and 275g of water and mix on medium speed using a dough hook until elastic dough forms.

5) Scrap the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a wet cloth. Allow to proof overnight in the refrigerator.

6) Chop the onions and chilli, then add the onions into a pan with the remaining olive oil and cook on low heat until it starts to caramelise, about 30 minutes. Add chilli and ground cumin and stir for another 5 minutes. Allow to cool.

7) The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator and punch down the dough. Flatten the dough lightly then spread the caramelised onion on one half on the dough. Fold the other half over to cover the onions then pinch the dough to seal it. Make sure the onions are not exposed.

8) Shape into a boule then allow it to proof a final time until double in size. This may take 2 to 3 hours.

9) Preheat the oven together with the Dutch oven at 240C. If your oven has fan mode, make sure to turn it off.
10) Carefully transfer the dough into the preheated Dutch in oven, spritz generously with water (to create steam), then cover and allow to bake for 15 minutes.
11) Lower the temperature to 230C and bake for another 15 minutes.
12) Finally, remove the cover and continue to bake until crust is nicely browned. For me, this took another 30 minutes.

And the result? I loved it. It almost felt like a guilty breakfast because I enjoyed the kick from the chilli and the sweetness of the onions. One word of caution though, it is really spicy, even for a chilli freak like me. If your taste buds are more delicate, you can perhaps cut it down to just one chilli. That way, you get a bit heat but still gentle enough for most people.


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