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Pissaladiere

How to cook: Pissaladiere

Packed with the flavours of Provence in southern France, this pizza-like bread is ideal picnic food. Soft sweet onions scented with Provencal herbs are spread over a layer of tomato sauce, then topped with red pepper strips or sea-salty anchovies and black olives, all on a thin base.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1.5 kg mild onions, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence

TOMATO SAUCE

2 tablespoons olive oil

800 g tinned chopped tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato puree

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained

150 ml dry white wine

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

YEAST DOUGH

7 g fresh yeast,

2 teaspoons dried yeast or 1 teaspoon fast-action dried yeast

a pinch of sugar

150 g plain flour, plus extra for rolling

50 g unsalted butter, chilled and chopped

1 egg, beaten

a pinch of sea salt

TO FINISH

red pepper strips or

about 10 anchovy fillets (optional)

olive oil, for drizzling

12-18 small black olives

a Swiss roll tin, 33 x 20 c

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and garlic and stir well to coat with the oil. Add 1 -2 tablespoons water, cover tightly and simmer over very low heat for about 1 hour until meltingly soft. Stir the onions from time to time to prevent them sticking, but don’t let them colour. Add a little more water if they look dry. Stir in the herbs. Drain the mixture into a sieve over a bowl and reserve the liquid for the yeast dough.

To make the tomato sauce for the Pissaladiere, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the tomatoes, tomato puree, capers, white wine, salt and pepper. Mix well and bring to the boil. Simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until well reduced and very thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.

To make the yeast dough for the Pissaladiere, cream the fresh yeast in a bowl with the sugar, then whisk in 3 tablespoons of the warmed reserved onion liquid. Leave for 10 minutes until frothy. For other yeasts, follow the packet instructions. Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter. Make a hollow in the center, add the egg, yeast mixture and a pinch of salt, and mix to a very soft dough – add more onion liquid if it seems dry. Knead in the bowl for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Put in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Knock back the dough, knead lightly, then roll out on a lightly floured surface. Use to line the tin, pushing the dough well up the edges. Spread the reduced tomato sauce thinly over the dough base. Cover with the onions. Arrange the red pepper strips, if using, in a lattice on top of the onions. Alternatively, cut the anchovy fillets in half lengthways and use them instead. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake in a preheated oven at 190°C (375°F) Gas 5 for about 1 hour until the pastry is golden and crisp. Arrange the olives on top and serve warm or cold and enjoy Pissaladiere.

makes 4-6 servings

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