La pizza française? Pizza and onion confit

No, this post is not about pissaladière.

I have been looking at blogging projects that would prompt me to learn new baking skills and to bake on a regular basis – I’m conditioned by uni and work to meet external deadlines, however arbitrary. Tuesdays with Dorie, which is working through the book Baking with Julia, seemed a fun project to join. Et me voila.

This Tuesday’s recipe is pizza with onion confit. It seemed the perfect way to start with the TWD group. I have been fascinated by Julia Child even before the movie, Julie and Julia. For almost as long, I have been fascinated by the magic of yeast.

pizza and confit2 smlonion confit2

I loved the dough, as did Mr Gander and his mother, and it worked well as both thick and thin pizza bases. The onion confit was a tasty though different take on pizza topping. Next time I would use a different (softer) style of red wine, or tweak the recipe a little. My notes on the recipes and tweaks are below, for full recipe please go to The Boy Can Bake or see page 159 of Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  

1. Pizza dough

The pizza dough was lovely: lightly crusty on the outside, soft and ‘toothsome’ on the inside, with an even, small crumb. It had enough flavour to be unobtrusively tasty.

The dough was made using a sponge, like biga for ciabatta and pate fermentee which I’ve attempted before. On one of our hottest weekends this summer, the sponge became happily bubbling within a couple of hours.

pizza spongeAfter kneading in my new Bosch kitchen mixer (thanks ‘Santa’!), the dough was off to rest, breath and prove in a lightly oiled bowl – like yoga for flour?

I made this dough twice over the weekend:

For the first attempt, I made the sponge, and then proved the final dough twice: after the dough had doubled in size, I punched down the dough to get rid of the large air bubbles (like bursting bubble wrap) and let it double in size again. The dough was smooth and silky, but I didn’t notice too much difference between the first and second risings. There was enough dough for three pizzas (roughly 20cm diameter, more or less) with thicker, traditional style bases. 

For the second attempt, I reduced the quantity of dough but followed the recipe more faithfully, and turned the dough into thinner pizza bases. There was enough for two pizzas. I baked first pizza for 7 minutes and the second for 10 minutes.

pizza and confit3 smlOn balance, I prefer a thin and crispy base (baked for 10 minutes), which was closest to the Neapolitan style pizzas that have become the norm in many Sydney pizzerias. Mr Gander’s mum preferred the thicker base, as it was ‘substantial, but very easy to eat’. In the future, I would like to play around with thickness, and baking times, to get a consistent crispy-toothsome crust.

pizza and confit1 sml

Note: I don’t have a pizza peel. The workaround is to make pizza bases on pieces of baking paper, and put the baking paper onto the pizza stone. Since the dough does not sit directly on the stone, it will not be charred on the bottom, but will still form a good crust from the baking stone’s intense heat coming through the baking paper. (Maybe Chinese new year will bring a bigger pizza stone and a peel?)

Pizza toppings

I used three lots of toppings:

pizza and confit5 sml1. Onion confit, goat cheese, gorgonzola dolce, fresh thyme leaves and cracked pepper.

2. Onion confit, goat cheese, walnuts.

I learned it is important to take the pizza out before the walnut is burnt; maybe a way to prevent burning is to put them under something – like cheese or onion confit.

3. Goat cheese, walnuts, rocket, halved grape tomatoes, drizzled with a bit of balsamic reduction.

I baked the pizza with half of the rocket, and scattered fresh rocket over the pizza when it came out of the oven. The balsamic reduction was a mixture of (supermarket grade) balsamic vinegar, raw sugar, thyme and garlic cooked down to a third of its original volume, until it became a thick, dark, glistening tart-and-sweet sauce.

2. Onion confit

Onion confit (confit d’oignon?) sounds so very French, I wondered about adding it to an Italian classic. Silly me. On one a hot evening, the sweet-sour confit was a welcome addition at dinner, and paired well with tangy-mild goat cheese and walnuts.

This is not your average caramelised onion. Thanks to the use of wine and vinegar, it was assertive, full-bodied, surprisingly savoury, in colour and taste.

onion confit1

I only had two minor quibbles: the taste of cooked wine and vinegar were a tad overwhelming in the finished product. Also, mine turned out purple, rather than the mellow brown or red of onion marmalade I’ve seen elsewhere.

The taste is, I think, because I used a robust Australian shiraz with a relatively high alcohol content, whereas a softer red wine would have been truer to the original. I did not have blackcurrant liqueur the recipe calls for, so should have reduced the vinegar a little or added more sugar to compensate. A different type of red wine may change the colour of the confit as well.

These quibbles aside, it is still quite lovely, and the flavours mellowed after resting overnight in the fridge.

Cooking note: I cooked this in a copper pan instead of an open skillet, as I find it is easier to control the heat in the copper pan. I cooked the mixture uncovered for half of the time on medium-low heat so that the mixture cooked down as intended.

Using onion confit: this onion confit would make a good accompaniment to many things, including pungent cheese, strong flavoured meat such as duck, beef, goat (etc). For last night’s dinner, onion confit worked well with kangaroo steak and the rest of the balsamic reduction.

Photo: getting a decent photo of the onion confit was difficult. Limp soft purple onion does not a beautiful picture make (at least, I could not make it beautiful). In the end I went out and found a linen napkin from the local op shop and added a gratuitous branch of bay leaves. But, at least it was more photogenic than blue food!

onion confit3

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32 thoughts on “La pizza française? Pizza and onion confit

  1. Patty 9 January 2013 at 2:12 am Reply

    Welcome. I could not make the onions look appealing but we really liked the flavor. I used Malbec for the wine.

    • saucygander 9 January 2013 at 7:35 pm Reply

      I also liked the confit, more so on day 2. Maybe this is one of those life lessons about “inner beauty”.

  2. sono affamato 9 January 2013 at 2:14 am Reply

    this looks amazing!

  3. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen 9 January 2013 at 2:36 am Reply

    The crust didn´t quite make it for me, but I like all of your toppings! A slice of each please!

    • saucygander 9 January 2013 at 7:39 pm Reply

      Shame the crust didn’t work for you, the perfect crust is out there. Glad you liked the toppings!

  4. SandraM 9 January 2013 at 4:08 am Reply

    Welcome to TWD. I started with TWD in October and have enjoyed it.
    Your photos are fabulous. Great post.

    • saucygander 9 January 2013 at 7:41 pm Reply

      Thanks for the welcome, I’m enjoying TWD so far.

  5. gingerskeeper 9 January 2013 at 6:36 am Reply

    Looks delicious!

  6. crumbsandsprinkles 9 January 2013 at 8:08 am Reply

    Your toppings look lovely! I particularly like the idea of using rocket and walnuts…

    • saucygander 9 January 2013 at 7:43 pm Reply

      Thanks, I must have had rocket and walnut pizza before and remembered it was a good combo..

  7. Kate 9 January 2013 at 12:14 pm Reply

    How fun that you got to use your new toy for this! I confess, I almost always knead with my mixer instead of by hand. And the walnuts were an inspired touch!

    • saucygander 9 January 2013 at 7:46 pm Reply

      I certainly won’t go back to whipping egg whites by hand! (it was a very good workout, but I got rather bleh macarons)

  8. Welcome! Glad to have you join the group. My onions looked just like yours and I thought they were perfect! I don’t think we could get a browned onion out of all that red wine. Blessings! Catherine http://www.praycookblog.com

    • saucygander 9 January 2013 at 7:49 pm Reply

      Thanks for the welcome, TWD is such a friendly bunch. I’m glad to get the onion confit right, since it was my first time making this.

  9. kitchen therapy 9 January 2013 at 10:05 pm Reply

    Your pizzas look fantastic!
    I can’t decide which one I prefer, I love both!

    • saucygander 11 January 2013 at 11:43 am Reply

      Thanks! The group had some great topping ideas this week.

  10. Krissy 10 January 2013 at 3:16 am Reply

    Great post with terrific photos. Good job on all the pizzas and toppings. And I enjoyed your previous post with the cake…and I like the freehand calligraphy! I made the stuffed breads with the extra dough…let the breads rise for about 30 minutes in a warm room and baked for about 20 minutes in a 400^ oven. See you soon with the French Apple Tart.

    • saucygander 11 January 2013 at 11:45 am Reply

      Great, I will try the bread idea soon. Can’t wait for the apple tart.

  11. steph (whisk/spoon) 10 January 2013 at 7:23 am Reply

    Welcome to the group…looks like good first results! I used white wine instead of red in the confit, so I didn’t wind up tinting my onions purple, and the taste was not so overpowering either.

    • saucygander 11 January 2013 at 11:47 am Reply

      Thanks for the tip, I can see white wine confit making an appearance in our kitchen this summer.

  12. gfcelebration 10 January 2013 at 3:20 pm Reply

    Beautiful presentation. Like you, we also loved the second batch of pizza crust and onion confit the best. It seems to work that way for most pizza crusts we made; the longer you let it rest, the better it tastes. What a beautiful first post for TWD. Welcome!

    • saucygander 11 January 2013 at 11:48 am Reply

      Yes, the magic that is yeast (and slow food)!

  13. Andrea 10 January 2013 at 7:36 pm Reply

    Welcome to the TwD group and thanks for visiting my blog! Your pizza toppings sound absolutely delicious and your photography is stunning!

  14. teaandscones 11 January 2013 at 6:36 am Reply

    Welcome to BwJ. Such a great way to learn new things. My onions were so dark you couldn’t see the olives, but tasty.

    • saucygander 11 January 2013 at 11:50 am Reply

      Does that make the onion confit a dark horse? (groaning at own terrible pun…)

      • teaandscones 11 January 2013 at 2:21 pm

        Yep! You’ll fin in well!!

  15. Cher 11 January 2013 at 1:31 pm Reply

    Welcome aboard – you did a lovely job.
    This is a very fun group – I hope you enjoy!
    I agree – the red color was a little off-putting. But your pizzas looks perfect.

  16. Sharron - one clever mom 11 January 2013 at 2:10 pm Reply

    Welcome to the group! I love the variety of toppings you used! And great job capturing the purple onions in the most presentable pic I’ve seen yet! That was tricky!

  17. Cathleen 12 January 2013 at 5:50 pm Reply

    Gorgeous photos!!! Beautiful pizzas and tasty sounding toppings. Welcome! Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

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