Recipe: A Traditional French Pissaladière
So, I promised everyone sitting around the dinner table on Saturday night, a fair few of our friends who’d seen the photos on social media, plus a fair few of you online that I’d share the recipe for the Pissaladière onion and anchovy tart I served up as the main event at my Provincial themed dinner party. I was stupidly proud of it and happy with the way the recipe turned out at practically every stage of the cooking on Saturday morning, so luckily I snapped a few more snaps of it while it was a work in progress, and just before everyone arrived for pre-dinner pink bubbles and a bit of catch up gossip before descending on the dinner table.
I was recently asked what my desert island cookbook would be, and after some deliberation I landed on the French classic Larousse Gastronomique. I think this demonstrates how much French techniques is at the cornerstone of my cooking. Therefore, you can imagine that I have enough Pissaladière recipes kicking about. In the end, I went for the simplest one I had most of the ingredients for, in true French fashion. This recipe is not adapted at all, it is just shared outright with love and affection from Joanne Harris and Fran Warde’s The French Kitchen, which is a lovely book I could cook forever from. A second desert island pick, if you will.
- 6 tbsp Olive Oil, plus a little bit extra for brushing on the tray & dough
- 25g (2 scant tbsp) Unsalted (preferably French) Butter
- Bunch of Thyme
- 1.75kg (2lb 3oz) White Onions, very finely sliced (use a mandolin if you have one!)
- Sea Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 15g (1 tbsp) Dried Yeast (I use Allisons)
- 120ml (4 floz) Tepid (not warm, but not cold either) Water
- 1 tsp Golden Caster Sugar
- 250g (9 oz) Strong Bread Flour
- Sea Salt
- Jar of Anchovies (I like Waitrose)
- Jar of Pitted Black Olives (I like Crespo)
First, get the onions cooking while you make the dough base. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil and the butter in a very large, heavy bottomed frying pan and add roughly half the time. When it is frothy, add the onions and stir to make sure they are all coated with oil and butter. Leave to cook down to caramelisation, but not browning over a medium to low heat for about an hour. Once they’re cooked, season with salt and pepper and then set aside to cool.
To make the dough, mix the yeast with the tepid water and sugar, and leave in a warm place for five minutes until the yeast goes frothy. Add to the flour and salt, and remaining 4 tbsp olive oil, and combine to form a dough. Knead on a floured surface for ten minutes to build up the gluten until the dough is elastic. Cover with cling film, or a wet tea towel to prevent a skin forming on the dough and leave to prove in a warm place until it has doubled in size. This usually takes about an hour, but I’ve been finding my bread dough has been going much quicker in this heat.
Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees celsius (430 degrees fahrenheit). Knock the dough back a little (you can read more about bread making techniques here) on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a square that will reach with about half an inch around the edges of a non stick baking tray. Brush the tray with oil before placing the dough on it, and brush oil over the top of the dough, too. Spread over the onions, then decorate with anchovies, sliced down the middle with a sharp knife into thin strips made into a lattice pattern, and olives dropped into each diamond shape. Sprinkle over the remaining thyme and bake for 20 minutes until the dough is crisp and the onions have started to crisp up too. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy with a crisp, ice cold glass of French rose and a healthy dose of the fantastic sunshine we’ve been having in England at the moment. But please in the early evening, because the days are just too hot at the moment, and this is coming from me, the give who craves the West Coast weather and sunshine almost constantly. It is a different type of heat, which is bad in the countryside. Add the District Line into the mix, and it is unbearable!