Friday, June 1, 2007



Pissaladiere, a pizza-like tart of onions, olives, and anchovies, is a popular street food of Nice, a city in the Provence region of France. Some recipes call for a puff pastry crust, which can be too flabby and greasy, or a pate brisee, which can be too dense. This Cook’s Illustrated recipe builds the tart on a thin pizza-like crust that has a crisp, crackery exterior and a chewy interior. Often times, recipes will call for too much anchovies or olives and one ingredient will overpower the rest of the flavors but here, the saltiness of the anchovies, slight bitterness of the olives, and the sweetness of the onions are well balanced.

- Chopping the anchovies really spreads out their flavor and prevents the tart from being too fishy. I like anchovies so I added a few whole fillets on top but getting a bite that contained whole anchovy was overly salty so if you really love anchovies, I would suggest chopping the extra rather than laying them on top.
- Use fresh thyme, since you’re going through all this trouble, don’t bother with the dried stuff.
- The onions can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.
- Bread machine, rapid rise, perfect rise, and quick rise yeast are all instant yeasts.

Pissaladiere/Provencal Pizza
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 C bread flour
1 tsp instant or active dry yeast (if using active dry remember to proof the yeast)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 C warm water, about 110ºF

Caramelized onions
2 Tbsp olive oil
Roughly 1 1/2 lbs of yellow onions (about 3 large onions), sliced 1/4 in thick
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp water

1/2 C nicoise olives, pitted and roughly chopped
8 – 10 anchovy fillets, rinsed and roughly chopped (optional: more anchovies for garnish)
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
Black pepper
Olive oil
1 Tbsp minced parsley for garnish

If you are using instant yeast you can skip the proofing, but if you are using active dry yeast, proof the yeast in the warm water for 10 minutes then proceed with making the dough.

The dough is made very quickly in the food processor but you can also use a stand mixer or mix it by hand

Add the flour, yeast, and salt to the food processor and pulse a few times to combine. With the motor running, add the oil then steadily pour in the water and process until the dough comes together in a ball, about 15 seconds. The plastic dough blade works best for the dough, but I only have a mini food processor and a metal blade so I had to make the dough in two batches then combine the two balls together.

Flour your hands and dust a work surface and knead the dough a bit. But since this is a very wet dough, it's more of a slap/push than a gutsy knead. Shape the dough into a ball. The dough will be wet, sticky (it will be pretty sticky and stick to your hands a bit, but not a lot), and very slack. The high water content of the dough creates the crispy exterior.

Place the dough in a lightly oil a bowl or 4 C measuring cup and cover with plastic wrap. The dough will be at around 2 cups before rising. Let it rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.

Onions: While the dough is rising, you can prepare the caramelized onions.
Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onions, salt, and sugar. It will look like a lot of onions but it will cook down. Cook the onions, stirring frequently for 10 minutes (should see few patches of brown).

Then turn the heat down to medium low and cook for another 20 minutes until the onions are a golden brown. Off heat stir in the water to loosen the onions and scrape up any brown bits from the pan and set aside.

Making the pizzas
Begin preheating the pizza stone 30 minutes before baking. Remember to put the pizza stone into the oven before heating it and let it heat up gradually with the oven. Set the stone on the lowest rack and heat the oven to 500ºF.

When the dough has doubled, gently turn it out of the container. Cut it in half and form each piece into a ball by gently picking the edges of the dough together into a pouch and pinch to close. Roll the dough ball over, seam side down. Cup the dough with both hands and push the dough around to form a taut ball. Repeat for the second piece. Brush each piece lightly with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 10 minutes for the second rise.

To form the tart, coat your hand in oil instead of flour. The extra oil will be pressed into the dough for the crispy crust. Hold the dough up and gently stretch it into an oblong oval (like a slipper), about 10 inches long. Place the dough on a sheet of parchment then dimple the surface of the dough with your fingers (this makes it easier to press the dough out). Then using the palm of your hand, push the dough out into an oval, roughly 14 by 8 inches. The surface should be evenly flat but leave a small lip around the dough for the crust. This sounds really complicated but it’s actually very easy.

Crack some pepper over the surface of the dough. Spread half of the chopped thyme, olives, and anchovies on the surface of the tart, making sure to leave a border around the edge of the tart. Then spread half of the caramelize onion on top, it’s easiest to grab handfuls of the onions and spread them with your hands. The onions will continue to caramelize in the oven and they also hide the other ingredients and prevent them from burning.

Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone using a pizza peel or a large cookie sheet and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until the tart is an even golden brown. (The tart in the picture is a little underbaked because we were too hungry. :) The crust should be more brown than the blonde you see in the picture.) You can fit both pizzas on the same stone or you can bake them one at a time, preparing the second one as the first one bakes.

Garnish with minced parsley.


Bettina said...

ooooo, cool! i want to see you use the pizza stone!!!

Anh said...

I love pissaladiere. I have found that puff pastry made from canola oil is less greasy than the butter variety, hence, perfect for this. However, I love your pizza version much better. Very yummy!

Anonymous said...

You are really a pro in doing all those pastry stuff. I hv not tried any anchovies here except for those chinese anchovies (a.k.a ikan bilis).

Pissaladiere is really new to me.

Sig said...

omg Amy that is a mouthwatering picture... anchovies, caramelized onions and olives... I can just imagine the taste... yummy..

Hope you are enjoying the nice weather we are having :) Have a great weekend!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I've been thinking of making pizza for the past week but have just been too lazy. Mine are usually more of the sauted onions and bacon variety.

Kalyn Denny said...

It looks fabulous! I've never had this before.

Anonymous said...

This look so amazingly delicious! I've never had pissaladiere, but might be convinced to overcome my fear of anchovies for something as good looking as this. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)

Helene said...

I grew up in Provence and my mom used to make it every friday night. I have not made it for us in a while but now I am craving it!

Passionate Eater said...

I saw that recipe in the America's Test Kitchen cookbook (for Cook's Illustrated) and it sounded delicious. Your post makes it even more so! I can imagine that this pizza would be an explosion of strong flavors. And that is a gorgeous picture!

Amy said...

I have a whole list of things we can bake together; I'll add pizza to that list. ;D

I'll have to try the canola oil puff pastry sometime. I thought puff pastry was always made with butter. Thanks for the heads up. :) I really enjoyed the pizza crust in this recipe, I think it will be my go-to crust from now on.

Aw *blush* I'm still only a novice. Mm I love anchovies, try them sometime. I wanted to get the Ortiz ones but I couldn't bring myself to buy them because they were way too expensive. :(

Thanks! I'm totally loving the weather right now. It's the way spring/summer should be, bout time too since it seemed to rain abnormally long this year. I hope you're enjoying the sun too. :)

Sausage is my favorite topping on pizza, but bacon is delish too.

I'd never heard about this before either until I watched the America's Test Kitchen episode. It looked too cool so I had to make it. We really enjoyed it, very yummy.

Anchovies aren't too bad, I was scared of them myself. But since they're cut up on here, they added a nice umami and saltiness without being overly fishy. I buy the oil packed ones since I can't be bothered to fillet the little buggers packed in salt. The brand I got was Agostino Recca.

I hope I did pissaladiere justice, hopefully this was somewhat close to the one your mom made. :)

The flavors were definitely gutsy. It's was something totally new for us but we really loved it.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Amy, a couple of days away from the computer and I've missed all these delicious posts! :)

I make pizza every Saturday night but have never made pissaladiere. Yours look so good!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

That looks delicious. I'm not an anchovy fan, but the onions call to me. I love the crust you've made, too. It looks perfect!

Amy said...

I feel the same way sometimes, just a couple a days away and there are so many delicious posts to read. Wow pizza every week, sounds delish.

Aw thanks! It's true that anchovies aren't for everyone.

Helene said...

Food is so global and yet so unique. Both my mom and grandma are from the SOuth and they make it very differently, and I bet that I make it differently!
I am trying it tonight and will let you know.
Food as a way of bringing back so many fond memories.

Amy said...

Please do let me know how it turns out! I hope you like it. :)


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