Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Focaccia

By Chef Elizabeth Falkner

This Caramelized Onion and Gruyère Focaccia recipe from Chef Elizabeth Falkner is the perfect cooking project for a lazy weekend that ends with a delicious feast. Give yourself a day and a half before you plan to serve the bread, though most of that is resting time. The results are well worth the wait – deeply flavored bread with caramelized onion and cave-aged Gruyère in every bite. It’s wonderful served on its own or as the perfect companion to Chef Elizabeth’s Le Crémeux Cheeseburger with Pineapple BBQ Sauce.
1 pan of focaccia
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time


  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar or honey
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons wheat bran
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 large onion, white or yellow
  • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar or honey
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons wheat bran
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 cups grated Emmi Le Gruyère AOP cheese


  1. First, make the starter. Combine the sugar or honey and warm water; add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Add the wheat bran and flour and the cold water and stir to combine. Cover with a dish towel and set aside for 1 1/2 hours. Feed the mixture 1/4 cup bread flour and 1/4 cup cool water; stir for 1 minute. Cover again with towel and set aside for another 1 1/2 hours. Feed the mixture again as above with 1/4 cup bread flour and water and stir and cover again.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the caramelized onions. Slice onion into thin slices. Heat canola or olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add sliced onion, salt and sugar or honey. Reduce heat to low and stir the mixture every so often for about 15 minutes to start to caramelize the onions. Add fresh ground pepper and continue cooking until well caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. To prepare the bread, in a bowl, combine sugar and warm water together and add the yeast to activate. Add the wheat bran and starter from above along with the cold water and begin add-ing in the bread flour.
  4. Knead for 10 minutes and add the salt, 3/4 of the Gruyère cheese, and 3/4 of the caramelized onion mixture. Knead for another 5 minutes.
  5. Cover and set aside at room temperature to rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Punch down and knead for just a couple minutes.
  7. Place dough in large container with a lid and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  8. Coat rimmed baking sheet generously with olive oil. Place dough in pan and turn a couple of times to coat in oil. Press dough into an even layer to fill the pan. Press fingers all the way through the dough to make a dimples throughout. Cover with the rest of the onion mix and cheese. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  9. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to proof for 1 hour.
  10. Dump dough out on a hard kitchen surface and divide into two equal parts.
  11. Heat oven to 400F.
  12. Bake 30-40 minutes until cooked through and bread is lightly browned on top.
  13. Cool completely. To serve as burger buns, cut into 4- to 5-inch squares and slice in half.