Caramelized Onion & Spinach Braid

  • 1 largeish onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 c. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 4-5 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 c. wheat bran
  • 4 tsp yeast
  • 2 c. lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
First thing you want to do is get your onion to caramelizing. To do this, heat a pan on medium heat, add your oil and thinly sliced onions. The heat shouldn’t be too high, you want them to slowly brown, not burn.
When your onions have gone soft and translucent, turn the heat down a little and cook until brown and caramelized, stirring every now and then. (I got a little impatient and took mine off before they were really perfect, you could let yours go longer if you wanted.) Set the onions aside to cool while you take care of the rest.
On to the spinach. I used frozen spinach, but you could surely use fresh and steam it or something if you like and then chop it fine or pulse it in the food processor. I like the frozen for no reason other than its easier.
Here in Norway, it seems, spinach comes frozen in pellet form. I defrosted it in the microwave, but if I had thought ahead enough I could have just left it to thaw in the fridge overnight or something.
My inspiration recipe instructed one to squeeze all the liquid from the spinach as possible. I did this, but instead of tossing the liquid down the drain, I squeezed it into a measuring cup because I thought it would help flavor the bread a little more and I didn’t see the point in washing what could be nice nutrients down the drain.
You can do whatever you like.
All in all, I had about 1/2 cup of cooked, chopped, squeezed dry spinach. Don’t freak out if you have a little more or less, though I’d think erring on the side of a little more wouldn’t be so bad.

On to the bready part of the bread recipe.

In a large bowl add your spinach juice + enough water to equal 2 cups, OR just the two cups of lukewarm water. Stir in caramelized onion, spinach and yeast.
I never add salt to my liquids as salt and yeast just don’t get along very well. Salt is a definite yeast killer, so you don’t want to add it directly to the liquid they are currently coming awake inside of. Instead, add two cups of flour to the liquids and stir with a spoon until it sort of resembles a kind of batter. I added the salt and 1 cup of wheat bran now before continuing to add the remaining flour.
**As with most of my bread recipes (and any other bread recipe you find, really) amounts aren’t quite exact. Moisture content in flour can vary, depending on where you bought it, where you store it, and how humid it is outside. Please don’t add all your flour to your liquid at once, you could end up with a dough that is far too dry. I  like to measure my flour into a separate bowl, then add it gradually to the wet ingredients. You can always add more, but you cannot take away.**
So, bearing this in mind, add about a cup of flour at a time, stirring with a spoon, (or using a dough hook attachment if you have one) until the dough begins to form a cohesive mass and come away from the sides of the bowl.
At this point, lightly flour your work surface and knead the dough for a good 15 minutes or so to develop those glutens! Try not to add too much flour, you don’t want to dry the dough out. Bread dough shouldn’t be sticky, but it shouldn’t be dry and difficult to work with, either. I find that the best is when the dough is just barely sticky- I think this is one of those things that comes into the realm of “feeling” and “experience.” If you’re new to bread baking- just take it easy on adding flour, you’ll be less likely to add too much.
So, after you’ve kneaded your dough enough, spray the mixing bowl with non stick spray (yes, use the same bowl. You don’t need to get another one) plunk the dough in, cover with a damp cloth or lightly oiled plastic and let it rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size- between 30-45 minutes (or more depending on where you stick it.) I prefer to turn my oven on the lowest setting for about 10 minutes, then turn it off and use it to raise my dough.
When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto your work surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts, rolling each part out into a long, thick rope of equal proportions onto a non-stick baking sheet. (Or I guess you could spray it with a little cooking spray)
I pinch the three ropes together at the top, then carefully braid them down to the bottom, at which point I pinch the bottom together then turn under the ends a bit to make a neater looking loaf.
Again, lightly cover with a damp cloth or oiled plastic and let rise a second time for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C)- crack an egg into a small bowl and beat well- then gently brush the egg wash onto the top of your bread. This is going to give the crust a beautiful shine and a lovely color. You don’t HAVE to do this part, but I find it aesthetically pleasing and I think it makes the crust nicer.
Put the bread into the lower 1/3 of your oven and bake for around 40 minutes, or until the bread has turned a pretty golden brown and sounds hollow on the bottom.
Remove from oven, cool on a rack- then DEVOUR.

2 thoughts on “Caramelized Onion & Spinach Braid”

  1. Oh yum! I’ve never made bread without using my bread machine but I’m try this for sure. Thanks for the recipe and the beautiful pictures.

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