Tarte Flambée (Flammenküche)
My once biggest secret recipe. Now you can make it yourself!
If there's a dish that's typical of Alsace, that would be Flammenküche (or Tarte Flambée — "burned tart") — which is the Alsatians' response to Italy's Pizza. Although some of its ingredients change widely from one family to another, the main components are usually crème fraîche, onions and lardons/bacon and a hint of nutmeg (the nutmeg is of utmost importance!). It can be shaped round, as a pizza, but traditionally is of a rectangular shape, and you serve it sliced into rectangular pieces.
Traditionally, you will serve more than one tarte flambée — actually, you'll keep them coming, with different flavours until everyone at the table can't each another slice. You would start with a "classic" tarte flambée, as this recipe describes; then usually followed by a "forestière" (forest-style) — which has a few sliced mushrooms and chopped ham added to it, then a more "cheesy" one with chunks of Munster Cheese; and there's even a version with snails, garlic and herbs (and believe it or not, it's not that uncommon — actually you'll probably find this version in most places that serve tarte flambée).
Here's is my take on the "classic" version. Try variations with sliced mushrooms, ham or Munster cheese.
This dough is unlike regular pizza or bread dough as it doesn't use yeast. It's a soft, very pliable dough. The trick here is to leave the dough to rest for an hour. You will get better results is you use a mechanical mixer with a dough hook, as it's easier to work the gluten and make it a soft, pliable dough.
- Mix the flour with the salt, oil and about three-quarters of the warm water
- Use your mixer with a dough hook and leave it to work the dough for about 10 minutes — add small amounts of water if not all of the flour has been incorporated into the door.
- Roll the dough into a ball, cover with a small amount of flour so it doesn't stick, and leave to rest, covered for about an hour.
STEP BY STEP
- Prepare the cream cheese sauce. In a bowl, mix cream cheese with creme fraiche (usually in a 50% / 50% proportion but some people prefer 30% / 70%).
- Add the tablespoon of rapeseed oil, freshly ground pepper, and grated nutmeg
- Add salt ONLY IF the bacon is unsalted. In most cases, you don't need to add any. Mix thoroughly.
- Separately, slice the onions very finely — use a very sharp knife. That's the secret. You don't need to precook them in any way, they will have more than enough time to cook in the oven.
- Preheat the oven — 180 to 200C, as for pizzas.
- Roll the dough, make it as thin as you can
- Take a baking tray (for the rectangular version) or a pizza stone (for the round "pizza" version) and cut some greaseproof paper to size
- To move the dough easiily, roll ir around the rolling pin, and unroll it over the greaseproof paper — then use your fingers to stretch the dough all the way to the corners. The dough has to be as thin as you can make it.
- Apply a couple of tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture to the middle and spread it with a tablespoon to cover the dough evenly, making sure to leave about half an inch around the dough without cream cheese. This ensures the dough will get harder around the "rim" when cooking and will enable you to actually hold the slices with your hands!
- Spread onions and lardons/bacon equally
- Cover with a small amount of cheese (traditionally, gruyere — but I enjoy more a mixture of mozzarella and grated parmesan myself — try both and let me know which one you prefer!)
- Cook in the oven for 12-15 minutes until it looks like the picture below
- Slice into small rectangular pieces — never into "pizza" slices.
For the dough:
- 250g flour
- 5 cl rapeseed oil
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 glass of warm water
- NO YEAST
- 20 cl creme fraiche
- 100g cream cheese (like Philadelphia or Quark)
- 2 red onions
- 1 white onion
- 250g smoked lardons or diced smoked bacon
- salt, pepper
- gruyere cheese, grated — or mozzarella and parmesan (non traditional but I prefer this version)
- 1 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil