The classic onion tart of Nice has had a few interpretations in Cuisine over the years and the reason for this is because it's so good – a combination of salty olives and anchovies with sweet slow-cooked onions on a hearty bread crust (sometimes it's flaky pastry).
A few things have changed since it first appeared in issue 34 back in 1992, however. The availability of really good anchovies transforms the flavour of this dish and while expensive, anchovies such as Ortiz have such superior flavour to cheap brands that it is well worth splashing out.
Another big change is in styling – let's face it, while traditional, the criss-crossing of fish and the perfect placement of olives just serves to make this delicious dish look dated.
½ cup milk
1 level tablespoon dried yeast granules
225g plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
Put the milk in a saucepan and heat until just warm. Sprinkle over the yeast granules, then set aside for the yeast to dissove, stirring occasionally. Sift 200g of the flour into a bowl with the salt then rub the butter in with the fingertips. When the yeast has dissolved add the milk mixture and blend together with a wooden spoon until a ball forms.
Use the remaining 25g of flour to dust the work surface and to stop the dough from sticking during kneading. Knead 7-10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and springy, then place in a warmed, buttered bowl. Turn the dough over to coat it on all sides with butter, then cover with a damp cloth. Leave ina warm place until doubled in size (about 2 hours).
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1.5kg large mild onions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
2 gloves garlic, crushed
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
freshly grated nutmeg
few pinches of salt
3-4 small tins anchovy fillets in oil, drained and split down the length
small black nicoise olives for garnishing, drained
Put the oil and butter in a large, wide saucepan. Add the onions and cook gently for about 40 minutes, stirring often, or until very tender and lightly browned (stir often towards the end of cooking). Add the thyme and garlic and cook 5 minutes more. Grind on plenty of pepper, grate over some nugmeg and add the salt. Stir to combine then leave to cool for 10 minutes.
To assemble: Turn the dough on to a work surface and roll into a round. Line a 32cm pizza tray or terracotta cooking plate. Build the sides of the dough up a little around the edges to prevent the filling from oozing out.
Spread the filling over the dough, then make a lattice pattern with the anchovies. Stud with olives then leave the tart to rest (prove) in a warm spot for 30 minutes. Brush the tops of the olives with a little oil then bake the pissaladière for approximately 30 minutes in an oven preheated to 220C. If the top over-colours, but the base is still not ready, loosely drape a piece of tinfoil over the top of the pizza. Remove from the oven and cool 10 minutes before cutting into slices (easily done with scissors).
Serves 6-8 as a snack or part of lunch / Preparation 30 minutes plus rising time / Cooking 1 hour 20 minutes
400g white bread flour, preferably '00'
½ teaspoon salt plus extra for the filling
2 teaspoons instant yeast
100ml warm milk
175ml warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons (30g) butter
1.5kg onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
small handful of thyme sprigs
47.5g can anchovies (I used Ortiz)
100g black olives (I used Salvagno)
Sift the flour and salt together into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook or a heavy-duty food processor fitted with a plastic blade then sprinkle over the yeast.
Pour in the warm milk and water and mix on a low setting or process until you have a soft ball of dough (add more flour or water as necessary).
If using a mixer, mix the dough for 7 minutes. If using a food processor, mix for 1½ minutes in three 30-second bursts, resting the dough for a minute between each burst. (The dough can also by mixed and kneaded by hand for about 10 minutes.)
Lightly oil a bowl and roll the dough around in this until it is coated. Cover lightly with plastic wrap, a tea towel or a plastic bag and leave to rise in a warm, draught-free place for 1½ hours.
Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 55 minutes or until they become very soft and translucent. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another 55 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Stretch and roll out the dough on a piece of baking paper to a rough 25cm x 35cm rectangle. Spread the onion all over the dough then dot randomly with anchovies and olives. You can drizzle over the oil from the anchovy tin for extra flavour if you like. Season with black pepper. Set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
While the pissaladière rests, put a metal tray or a pizza stone in the oven to heat. Put the rested tart and its baking paper on the tray then bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tart is golden and the crust is brown. If it gets too brown, cover lightly with foil.