Onion Pie

Zwiebelkuchen or onion pie is popular in the German speaking areas of the world including Austria and Alsace. It will be found made in a slightly different way, baked with ready browned or raw onions, with or without lashings of sour cream and egg, or with different pie bases with different depths of topping and seasoning depending on locality and adherence to tradition.

I've always wanted to visit Alsace, a strange french province where the towns have German names and where my great grandparents Adam and Eva Helfrich lived before they came to South Africa. Tasting Alsatian Zwiebelkuchen in the autumn with their fabulous white wines adds embroidery to this fantasy. One website claims Zwiebelkuchen is found on the Swabian wine routes, served by small wineries with new wine. These advertise that they are open by tying a broomstick over the door of the barn or cellar. That sounds very rustic and charming, as was this Zwiebelkuchen which uses a recipe in the Swabian tradition. 

On German food websites the pie is described as 'herzhaft' or 'hearty' in English and that my husband baked it quite fortuitously in a heart shaped cake tin is a bit of peasant food poetry for me, and I'll perhaps long the more for it as it becomes forbidden fruit, and I get deep into my low cholesterol diet.

Preparation time: 30 minutes 
Cooking time: about 50 minutes
Resting time of dough: 3 hours
Total time needed: at least 4 H 20 minutes
Grade of Difficulty: standard


Serves 4

Zwiebelkuchen / Onion Pie

For the Dough

  • 250 gram / 8.81 oz. wheat flour
  • 60 gram / 2.11 oz. very soft unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 10 gram / 0.35 oz. dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 150 ml / 5.07 oz. lukewarm full cream milk

For the Topping

  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 60 gram / 2.11 oz. herb butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. cumin, ground (optional)
  • 1 sharp knife tip of Carolina Reaper chili powder (optional)
  • 100 gram / 3.52 oz. diced bacon 


  • Add dry yeast, a little of the lukewarm milk, a little flour and the sugar to a large bowl and mix well to form a dough of viscous consistency
  • Cover it with a moist cloth, place in a warm room and let it rise for about 1 hour. It should at least double in volume
  • Once it has risen add the remaining milk, flour, sugar and the soft butter to the dough and knead for about 5 minutes
  • Cover dough with a moist cloth and let it sit and rise for another 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • Once the dough has risen add it to the bottom of your baking mold, cover the whole surface and make sure you have enough dough left to cover the inside wall of the baking mold for at least 1 inch / 2.5 cm. I used a mold with an average diameter of 22 cm / 8.66 inch.
  • While the dough is rising melt herb butter in a large skillet
  • Add onions and saute them on medium hot heat till they have become soft and translucent, stirring constantly
  • Add flour, cumin powder, garlic and Carolina Reaper chili, mix well and take of the heat to let all cool down for about 15 minutes
  • Once the onion mix has cooled down add the cream, the 2 eggs and salt and pepper to taste
  • Sprinkle the diced bacon evenly over the surface of the onion pie and bake for 45 to 50 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven at 200 degrees Celsius / 392 Fahrenheit or till the top of the pie has become golden brown
  • Remove from oven and serve hot.

What is Zwiebelkuchen?

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