A detailed recipe for an accomplished chef. Guests will be wowed by this southern-France pizza.
2 tsp dried yeast (1 package)
2-1/2 to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water (105ºF-115ºF)
2-1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt (preferably kosher or sea salt)
Additional olive oil for greasing bowl and pan
4-1/2 pounds sweet onions, such as Bermuda, Walla Walla, or Vidalia
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp salt, preferably kosher or sea salt
1 to 1-1/2 tsp fresh thyme or oregano, chopped, or 1/2 to 3/4 tsp dried
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
9-12 anchovy fillets, rinsed under cold running water, drained, each cut lengthwise into two strips
12-18 Niçoise or Gaeta olives, pitted
Step 1: In a small bowl, combine sugar and warm water, stir in yeast. Let sit for about 10 minutes until foamy and fragrant.
Step 2a: By hand method, combine salt and 1 cup flour in a large mixing bowl. With a wooden spoon, stir in the yeast and water mixture. Add the olive oil and beat vigorously, gradually adding another 1-1/2 cups flour, until the dough begins to come away from the sides of the bowl.
Step 2b: Electric mixer method, combine the salt and 1 cup flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture and beat on low until blended. Add the olive oil and beat on medium, gradually adding another 1-1/2 cups flour, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Step 3: Turn dough out onto a smooth, lightly floured surface. Knead about 5 minutes, adding only as much additional flour as is necessary to prevent dough from sticking. Finished dough should be smooth and elastic. Form into a ball and place in a deep, well-oiled bowl, turning the dough a few times to coat thoroughly. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise at room temperature for approximately 1-1/2 hours, or until tripled in bulk. Meanwhile, prepare pissaladière toppings.
Note: One pound of store-bought bread or pizza dough may be substituted for the dough in this recipe. Proceed with first step of topping instructions with thawed dough. Also, puff pastry may serve as the base for the tart, following instructions on the package.
Step 1: Peel onions and cut each in half vertically, through the stem end. Cut away and discard stems. Slice onions very thinly in vertical slices. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add onions (if pan is too small to accommodate all the onions at once, put some aside and add them when volume in the pan reduces). Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. Uncover, add salt and continue to cook 20-45 minutes until liquid has evaporated and onions are translucent and very soft (timing can vary widely depending on type of onions, pan, and temperature). Watch closely from this point on, as the onions are prone to scorching as they darken. Cook until onions are amber-coloured and caramelized, about 20-30 minutes. Stir frequently, covering the entire surface of the pan and scraping up any brown patches on bottom and sides. When onions are toffee-coloured, transfer them to a bowl and cool to at least lukewarm (the onions may be prepared up to 1 day in advance. If made less than four hours ahead, they can remain covered at room temperature. If more than 4 hours, cover, refrigerate then return to room temperature without removing the cover before proceeding).
Step 2: Preheat oven to 450ºF. Lightly oil a 12.5" x 17.5" baking sheet with 1"-high sides. Punch dough down and shape it with your hands into a rough rectangle. Place dough on baking sheet and gently massage it into a large rectangle. Cover rectangle with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 10-30 minutes, pressing it down periodically if it rises too much (the dough should sit for at least 10 minutes and up to 30). When you are ready to add toppings, coax dough to sides and into corners of pan.
Step 3: Spread caramelized onions evenly over surface of dough, leaving a 1" border all around. Sprinkle with fresh or dried herbs and cheese. Criss-cross two anchovy halves to mark each of 9 or 12 pieces (one criss-cross per piece) and nestle olives into topping to complete the design (the quantity of anchovies and olives may be increased if desired).
Step 4: Bake the pissaladière in centre of oven for 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool to lukewarm. The tart may be served warm or at room temperature.
Makes 9 to 12 appetizer servings or 6 light main course servings