Caramelized Onion, Polenta, and Fresh Herb Loaf

Caramelized Onion, Polenta, and Fresh Herb Loaf

This savory loaf edition of our olive oil cake uses polenta to create a distinctly chewy texture similar to cornbread. Sweet caramelized onions and a bouquet of fresh herbs—rosemary, sage, and thyme—make this aromatic loaf a perfect accompaniment to dinners, big or small. Find more ways to bake with olive oil in our September/October 2017 issue and take a look at our Baker’s Guide to Extra-Virgin Olive Oil to find out which olive oil to use for this recipe!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Caramelized Onion, Polenta, and Fresh Herb Loaf
Makes 1 (9x5-inch) loaf
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 pound (453.5 grams) sweet yellow onions, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) white balsamic vinegar
  • 4 large eggs (200 grams)
  • ¾ cup (168 grams) extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup (180 grams) whole milk
  • 2¼ cups (281 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup (50 grams) fine-ground polenta
  • 1 tablespoon (2 grams) chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon (2 grams) chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon (2 grams) chopped fresh sage
  • 2¼ teaspoons (11.25 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground black pepper
  • Crème fraîche, to serve
  • Garnish: extra-virgin olive oil, ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with baking spray with flour.
  2. In a medium skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Add onions; cook until translucent and softened, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and cook until onions turn a very dark golden brown color, about 2 hours, stirring every 10 minutes the first hour and every 5 minutes the second hour. (Be careful not to let onions burn.) When nearing the end of the second hour, stir and scrape any browned bits from bottom of pan. Increase heat to medium, and stir in vinegar, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan. Stir onions, and set aside to let cool.
  3. Place eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. With mixer on high speed, add oil in a slow, steady stream until combined. Add milk, beating until combined.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, polenta, thyme, rosemary, sage, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture, beating until combined. Fold in caramelized onions. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with crème fraîche, and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of pepper, if desired. Store at room temperature wrapped in foil.


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  1. So delicious. I chopped the onions out of concern for having stringy pieces that may be harder to bite into. I’m going to try baking this in mini muffin tins.


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