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Onion Baguettes = Happy Days

There is no debating the fact that I need a new oven.  One that I don't have to set to 300° when I need the temperature to be 350°.  One that has more than one rack.  One that has a six-burner stove-top.  One with a window on the door.  Oh, better yet, two new ovens!  For ease on holidays.  One that has a hood with the sucking power of a bleep!, yet doesn't make a sound.  One that is wide enough to make a true baguette.  Or better yet, wide enough and deep enough and tall enough to bake six baguettes at the same time.  Oh, and while I'm building the perfect oven, how about one that can be transformed from convection to convention with the flip of a switch.  Oh!  How 'bout the second oven is wood-burning!  With a big, hot stone floor...for pizza and bread.  Working in restaurant kitchens definitely spoils you for a "regular person with limited funds" kitchen.  But I can dream with the best of ' don't worry about me.  

I'm sorry.  Where was I?  I need a new oven.  And I'm reminded of that fact whenever I try to bake more than one loaf of bread at a time or something particularly big in one way or another.  While these baguettes may not be long and thin and svelte as the ones you're accustomed to, they definitely bring a smile to your lips and your belly.  The scent of warm bread and earthy onions floating on the air is enough to make me forget my dreams and live in the now.  For a few minutes, at least.
Onion Baguettes
adapted pretty liberally from Happy Days with the Naked Chef
makes 3 baguettes

for the dough:
just over 1 lb. white bread flour
~11 grams instant yeast
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. fine sea salt
just over 1 c. tepid water
ladleful of sourdough starter (optional)*

for onion topping:
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
small handful fresh thyme, leaves stripped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
white wine vinegar

Whisk together flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center and add sourdough starter and water.  Stir with a wooden spoon to combine, then turn out onto a work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, ~3-5 minutes.  Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, ~45 minutes to an hour.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently poke all around with your fingertips.  Divide into three equal portions.  Form each into a baguette and transfer to a lightly floured pizza peel (if baking on a stone) or sheet tray (if baking directly on tray)You can make long, skinny baguettes if they will fit in your oven...unfortunately my oven isn't the one of my dreams, so mine have to be a bit shorter and fatter than an ideal baguette.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size again, ~45 minutes to an hour.  Preheat oven to 350° F. during last 15 minutes of rise time.

In the meantime, heat a big glug of olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Add garlic, onions, and thyme and cook, stirring from time to time until everything is soft and onions are translucent (without browning), ~5-7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and a splash of the vinegar.  Stir and set aside until baguettes have risen.
Divide onion mixture evenly amongst the risen dough and slide into the preheated oven (either onto preheated stone or the whole tray).  Bake for ~35-40 minutes*, or until baguettes are golden and onions have started to get dark and crisp up in spots.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

*If you are making this without the ladleful of sourdough starter...and/or your baguettes are longer & skinnier than mine...your baguettes could be done in as little as 15 minutes, so start checking them earlier, if you've made either of those changes.
Split lengthwise, this made some fantastic sandwiches...spread generously with some beautifully stinky Garlic-Herb Boursin and some falling-apart-thin smoked ham.  Happy Days.
 What brings you Happy Days (...other than Nick at Nite)?
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