First, a little bit of exciting news to share here. My Homegrown Kitchen cookbook is the New Zealand winner in the Easy Home Recipes Category of the 2018 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards! And is now a finalist in the ‘Best in the World’ awards to be announced in May. A big big thank-you to everyone who has supported my new(ish) cookbook – it is no small feat writing and photographing a whole cookbook so any recognition for my work is truly wonderful 🙏📚💕

Homemade slow-rise fig and caramelised red onion skillet bread is satisfying to make and delicious to eat, especially served warm with dips or served alongside soup.

There is something comforting about freshly baked bread. A homemade pleasure I prioritise for the gratification it brings. I prefer to make slow-rise style breads as the flavour and texture is truly worth the extra time. With actual hands-on time minimal as no-kneading is required. That said, a slow-rise bread is best delegated to the weekend when the simple steps can be carried out in moments through the day.

Making bread while the weather is warm is most rewarding as the dough rises easily without having to find a warm nook in the house. However, if you wish to save this recipe for serving with soup once the weather cools I highly recommend seeking out the snug places in your home to keep the dough active during its rising stage.

Yeast, whether commercial, or wild yeast as found in a sourdough starter, has a temperature sweet spot of around 18-22 degrees Celsius. Too low and the yeast can run out of oomph before it gains momentum, too high and the yeast replicates too fast, potentially resulting in a deflated dough as the gluten matrix doesn’t have time to develop before the yeast expires. It is a fine balance.

This skillet bread recipe can be a foundation for many seasonal additions. With a small harvest of red onions from the garden this week and a gift of plump figs from a friend, this combination came to life. Be creative with what is at hand. These combinations might tickle your fancy:

  • Kalamata olive and basil – swirl the pesto through the dough
  • Roasted grape and sweet oregano – dot the dough with ripe grapes before cooking
  • Sun-dried tomato and roasted garlic – fold whole garlic cloves through the dough


Cook Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 6-8


2 cups white flour

½ cup wholemeal wheat flour

2 teaspoons chopped rosemary

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon dried yeast*

200ml water

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

Caramelised onions

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large red or brown onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon honey

6 ripe figs (or 8 dried), quartered

rosemary sprigs

*I have also made this with a sourdough starter omitting the dried yeast and using 100g (½ cup) starter


  • In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, rosemary, salt and yeast. Pour over the water and 1 tablespoon olive oil, then use a fork to bring together into a "shaggy" dough. Cover with a plate and set aside for 30 minutes.
  • For the caramelised onions, heat a frying pan over a moderate heat. Add the oil and onions and saute for 10 minutes until beginning to colour. Turn down the heat to low and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until the onions are caramelised. Remove from the heat and stir through the honey. Cool a little.
  • Add the warm onions to the dough and use your hands to mix until combined. Shape into a ball and toss the dough in olive oil to lightly coat. Cover and set aside for three to four hours until doubled in size.
  • Brush a heavy-based skillet (cast iron frying pan) with olive oil, or use a 22cm cake tin lined with baking paper. Tip the dough into the pan and use your fingers to press into the sides, making indents all over the surface of the dough. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with extra salt. Leave to rise for 30 to 60 minutes until the dough is visibly puffy.
  • Preheat the oven to 250C.
  • Once the dough is ready, dot with fig pieces and sprigs of rosemary and place the skillet into the oven, turning down the heat to 220C. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden. Use a spatula to slide on to a cooling rack. The bread is best eaten warm with dips, or tear off chunks to serve with soup.

*Recipe first published 1st March 2018 on


  • Victoria
    2 weeks ago

    Huge congrats on your award. It is well deserved as your food is innovative, healthy and inspirational and I hang on your every word! Well done.

    • 2 weeks ago

      That is the loveliest feedback, thank-you! I do sometimes wonder if others read my ramblings 😉

  • 2 weeks ago

    Awesome Nicola! Congratulations, so deserved. We want you back again in Dunedin as soon as you can be here!😉

    • 2 weeks ago

      Hi Jan! Thank-you, I know you have been a wonderful support for my work over the years.
      I will see about that trip back down to Dunedin 🙂

  • Clare
    2 weeks ago

    Congratulations on your award, how exciting for you. V best wishes for its continuing success = sales! Nga mihi nui

    • 2 weeks ago

      Thank-you Clare! sometimes I feel it is difficult to be seen and acknowledged in this busy world so a lovely recognition.
      Warmest, Nicola

  • Sarah Williams
    2 weeks ago

    Nicola – not only do we read but we try! I’ve cooked similiar to this as focaccia bread but just on an oven tray and never thought to do it in the fry pan in the oven – it toasted up the sides and base so much better. I did it with herbs and slices of cherry tomatoes on top and it was great. I’m looking forward to experimenting with your ideas which I love (I was too lazy to do the caramelised onions!)

    • 2 weeks ago

      Hi Sarah, fantastic. I love how the pan keeps a nice shape and gives a golden crust. The dough can be adapted so easily, maybe even into a sweet version!
      Enjoy 🙂

  • ananiagboh
    7 days ago

    Thanks so much! Glad you’re here!

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