Pissaladière Niҫoise

piss-baked-smallWe had friends round on Saturday night for a sort-of international mash-up – sort-of tapas: piquillos stuffed with Italian manicotti filling (ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, eggs, nutmeg, parsley), pasteis de bacalhau (deep fried Portuguese salt cod & potato balls), Spanish chorizo in cider with honey and chile, potato salad, an Israeli cabbage salad with pomegranate seeds and Pissaladière Niҫoise, followed by an apricot cream/yoghurt and almond pud with slices of Rosca de Reyes. This was followed by an international mash-up of spirits – Scottish malt whisky and American bourbon and rye whiskeys. This was followed by a hangover.

In my ignorant youth my pissaladière was a thrown-together pizza with onions, anchovies and olives. This one comes from “Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking” by the great American food writer Paula Wolfert. If there’s one this that characterizes Paula Wolfert, it’s precision which is a good starting point because I always subvert a recipes good intentions.

The recipe’s main innovation (well it was new to me anyway) is the onion flavoured dough. So, as is often the case with her recipes, you start the day before. The onions are cooked very slowly in olive oil with clove-stuck garlic, bay leaves and herbes de provence. The mixture is then cooled and the liquid drained off and replaces some of the water in the dough. For the dough I used my favourite 80% formula (strong white 100.0%, water 78.2%, starter 25.0%, salt 1.5%). Substituting the oil and juices from the onion for the equivalent weight of water made the dough noticeably more stiff.

But the baked result was pretty fabuloso. Even though the crust was quite thick it was really light and crisp. It hasn’t been brushed with oil; the golden sheen comes from the oil and the natural sugars from the onion juice in the dough.

Part Two. I’ve been playing with this 80% dough for months. It’s wet enough that I can mix it in a bowl and “knead” it by stretching – just lifting it up with a spatula until it falls back under its own weight and repeating a few times, letting it rest and stretching it again. It then gets scraped out into an oiled dough box and goes in the fridge for 24-72 hours.

I’ve been messing around with baking the dough straight from the fridge with a minimum of shaping. This time I went for no-shape “baguettes”:
bag-004-smallThere was originally 600g of dough in the box. The fridge-cold dough was tipped onto a floured surface and strips cut off and lifted onto a baking sheet which went into the oven as soon as it was up to 250C.

bagcrumb-001-small

Sorry about using flash but I think you can see the crumb is pretty well aerated.

The remaining dough became the pissaladière:
piss-04-smallNot a bad caff …

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