There’s something extremely satisfying about baking bread from scratch — playing around with the yeast, getting your hands into a completely sticky mess kneading the dough, and ending up covered in flour. My kitchen always looks like it has been attacked by a flour bomb when I embrace bread baking. As satisfying as it is, there’s also something off-putting about recipes containing yeast — I always think that they might be difficult, or that they’re going to take much longer than they actually do.
It is, therefore, equally as satisfying to have a bit of a cheat’s version — something that resembles fresh bread but doesn’t require yeast and has a mere 45-minute resting time, which isn’t much if you spend that preparing the topping and whatever else you’re going to serve it with.
I’ve called this one a tart, because it resembles an open tart, but it’s also a bit like a flatbread. It’s actually based on an Annabel Langbein pissaladière recipe, which is like an open focaccia tart, or like pizza but thicker. My Aunt Robyn, who is famous for her deliciously long lunches in her beautiful Te Horo home, would often lure me and my friends up the coast on Sundays. We’d be met with a glass of rosé, and there would always be beautiful fresh produce and her latest recipe on show. I fell in love with this simple lunch dish; very impressive but easy to make in advance. It’s great at room temperature and complements many meals. Whatever you call it — and let’s face, I’m never going to be able to pronounce pissaladière properly — it’s a simple addition to your lunch or brunch table, and would also be great alongside a winter soup.
Caramelised Onion, Bacon and Feta Tart
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 150ml warm water
- 100ml olive oil
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Knob of butter
- 3 large red onions, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 250g streaky bacon
- 3–4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 100g feta, crumbled into chunks
- First make the tart base. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl.
- Add the water and oil and mix in with a knife to form a soft dough.
- Cover and rest for 45 minutes, or leave overnight in the fridge.
- Next, make the topping. Heat the olive oil and butter in a frying pan.
- Add the onions and garlic, along with a good pinch of salt, cover and cook until soft, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar.
- Cook gently, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the onions are thick and sticky, and no liquid remains in the pan — this can take a good 25–30 minutes.
- Set aside to cool.
- Chop the bacon into chunks and fry in a frying pan until slightly cooked (be careful not to overcook as they’re also going in the oven).
- Finely chop most of the thyme and add it with the bacon to the onion mixture.
- Preheat oven and baking tray to 220˚C.
- Roll out the dough into a large rectangle on top of a sheet of baking paper.
- Fold up the edges of the dough slightly to give the tart an edge.
- Spread the caramelised onion and bacon mixture over the tart base.
- Sprinkle over the feta chunks and garnish with the remaining thyme sprigs.
- Transfer with the baking paper to the hot baking tray, and bake for 30 minutes until the tart pastry is golden and the edges are slightly crisp.
- Serve warm with a green salad on the side for lunch, or cold on a picnic.