Fritzel’s Onion-Poppyseed Bread

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This onion-bread recipe circulated in Chicago more than fifty years ago was credited to Fritzel’s restaurant, a swank establishment back in the day. It may well have come from Fritzel’s but like a lot of recipes adapted for the home cook by a restaurant, the scaled down version seemed a little wonky. Still, with a little tweaking and testing, we produced this version, a very nice onion-y flat bread, with the crunch of poppy seed, and a nice egg-wash gloss. It’s unusual–requiring a stop at your local home-brew shop to pick up the malt extract, which will give the bread a nice rise. Cut it in thin strips to serve with a salad, or slice it and serve with a little butter to dunk in your soup. The bread does not keep well–be sure to time your preparation so that you can eat it right out of the oven. (For more Fritzel’s recipes?  Be sure to try this succulent pepper steak, or, these cream-cheesy griddle cakes with blueberry sauce.)

Makes 2, 18 x 11 inch flatbreads

Onion bread Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 16 oz milk, scalded and cooled until warm (not hot)
  • 7 tsp sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of malt extract–Briess Golden Light DME (1lb) is fine, available from the Brew Camp store)
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 1/2 lbs onion, peeled, quartered and each quarter finely sliced/slivered with a mandoline slicer
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp poppy seeds (to your taste)
  • sprinkling of sea salt or kosher salt  (I used Maldon sea salt flakes from The Spice House in Evanston)


  1. Dissolve yeast in warm milk with 2 tsp of the sugar. Whisk in the rest of the sugar, the malt, the egg, the salt and the melted butter. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Turn out to a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic.
  2. Place dough in an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in bulk. About 1 hour. Punch down.
  3. Divide dough into two balls. Roll each out and place in oiled 18 x 11-inch pans. Cut two large sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper; spray each of these with a little spray vegetable oil. Place the oiled side of the wrap gently over the bread pans. Cover all with a clean cotton dish towel. Let rise in a warm place until 3/4 inch high.
  4. Peel onion; cut onion into quarters. Sliver each quarter of onion across the grain with a mandoline slicer, creating very thin slices/slivers of onion.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk egg with a 1/4 cup water and a pinch of salt. Brush egg wash over the surface of both pans of bread. Cover the surface of the bread with the thinly-shaved onion. Sprinkle seasalt flakes and poppy seed over all.
  6. Place bread on racks at the center of the oven. Bake 25 to 35 minutes at 400 degrees.

One thought on “Fritzel’s Onion-Poppyseed Bread

  1. Thanks for this recipe. I cut it out of the Chicago Tribune in 1973 when it was first published but lost it. I really loved it as a party dish. Just recently, I sent en email to the Trib asking if they could get it out of the morgue. Going to share it with a bread-baker friend.

    Steve Doyle
    Bowling Green, OH

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