You won't believe there's no sugar or bacon in these mouthwatering baked beans! Once you've tried them, you'll never open a can again. They do take a bit of time, but you'll be able to brag about how you slowly developed flavors for hours at the 4th of July Barbecue.
You can make these the day before and simply reheat the day of. I think they're even better after being allowed to rest overnight. I've even taken them camping and reheated on the camp fire (my poor bean pot). If they seem a tad dry the next day just add boiling water bit by bit until the liquid is just below the bean surface and then reheat. I'm using the best of two recipes as the basis for this. Serious Eats and one featured in the book Cool Beans.
Put beans in a large dutch oven. Add enough water to cover the beans by 3 inches. Add a generous sprinkle of salt, the kombu, a the onion (peeled and cut in half), thyme and bayleaf. Boil on high for 5 minutes. Remove from the stove, cover and bake in the oven for 1 hour, checking every 20 minutes to see if you need to add more water. You want the water to remain above the beans because you will be using the reserve in the next step.
Reduce oven temperature to 300.
With tongs remove the kombu, onion and thyme. Strain the beans, reserving the liquid.
Combine the sorghum syrup, maple syrups, mustard, 2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid and a LOT of freshly ground black pepper and set aside. Keep the rest of the bean liquid to add later.
In your dutch oven saute the diced onion in olive oil until it starts to turn brown. Add the beans back into the pot along with the syrup mixture.
Place the pot back in the oven uncovered and bake for the next 3-4 hours, checking it frequently and adding more reserved liquid or water to keep the liquid at bean level but not below. A couple of times, stir the pot to incorporate some of the caramelized top into the rest of the dish. For the last 30 minutes of cooking don't disturb the pot at all so that you develop a deeply brown top.