July 14th is Bastille Day, and I do love celebrating anything to do with food. My last overseas trip was to France, the traditional French fare included baguettes, fresh berries and cheeses at local markets and also the freshly baked Pissaladière. Almost pizza, but more bread, Oui! of Course!
Starting with an easy bread dough base, smothered with caramelised onions, olives, anchovies and thyme.
It could be easy and fast, if you are a dab hand at slicing a kilo of onions, then lovingly stirring while they soften and become golden. Please make these onions the old fashioned way. Cheating with a store bought sugar laden product wastes your time and money. So use your time wisely by clearing the house, finding at least 2 kilo of brown
onions, peeling & slicing finely, to make a condiment that will last a couple of weeks, and will go with so many meals, you’ll know why you put in the effort.
12 brown onions, peeled and thinly sliced – from root to tip – not across the rings.
Into a large heavy based pot with 150 mls of olive oil. Stir briefly and add the lid, letting the onions start to heat through, the steam will help the breakdown and lessen the accidentally burning too early. The onions need to become tender first before they will start to brown. Five minutes should be plenty of time, then lift the lid, and start the stirring process. Adding in a sprig of thyme, stir every few minutes, just as it’s starting to catch on the base. You want this browning to happen, that’s the flavour. This stage takes about 15- 20 minutes. So stay close, clean out the utensil cupboard or reorganise the pantry, but stay close! Once the base of the pot has onions sticking, add a splash of water to help loosen the caramelisation, a couple of times over 5 minutes should be plenty. When your onions are a dark golden brown, turn the heat off, put the lid back on, and leave it for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, lift the lid, and you should be able to stir the onions, with the browned base mixing in with the onions. Season with a teaspoon of sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, cool, and use to top your Pissaladière. Use it over a steak sandwich, add to a gravy for sausages, or use in a savoury tart before pouring over egg mix & your favourite cheese.
150 gm plain flour (1 cup)
60 gm butter, coarsely chopped
14 gm dried yeast (2 sachets)
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 cup of caramelised onions
2-3 sprigs of thyme leaves
12 anchovy fillets or roasted capsicum
16 black pitted olives
For bread dough, combine flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub butter into flour until fine crumbs form, then make a well in the centre. Combine yeast with 2 tbsp lukewarm water, stir to dissolve and add to well along with egg. Combine dry mixture with yeast mixture to form a dough, then knead until smooth and coming away from the sides of the bowl (add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky). Cover with a damp tea towel and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (45-60 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 200C. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, knock back, then knead into a ball. Lightly flour dough, roll out to a 28cm-diameter circle and place on a lightly greased oven tray. Spread over onion mixture, arrange anchovies (or capsicum if using) on top in a criss-cross pattern and place an olive in the centre of each diamond. Stand in a warm place and prove until slightly risen (10-15 minutes), then bake until golden (20-25 minutes).