Introduction: Flammkuchen - the Other Type of Pizza
After baking and eating many traditional pizzas, it was time for Flammkuchen again.
It's extremly delicious and quick and easy to make.
Step 1: History and Definition
Tarte flambée is an Alsatian dish composed of thin bread dough rolled out in a circle or a rectangle, which is covered with crème fraîche, onions, and lardons. It is one of the most famous gastronomical specialties of the region.
Depending on the region, this dish can be called in Alsatian flammekueche, in German Flammkuchen, or in French tarte flambée. There are many variations of the original recipe, in terms both of the dough and of the garniture.
Legend says that the creators of this dish were Alemannic farmers from Alsace, Baden or the Palatinate who used to bake bread once a week. In fact, the tarte was originally a homemade dish which did not make its urban debut until the "pizza craze" of the 1960's. A tarte flambée would be used to test the heat of their wood-fired ovens. At the peak of its temperature, the oven would also have the ideal conditions in which to bake a tarte flambée. The embers would be pushed aside to make room for the tarte in the middle of the oven, and the intense heat would be able to bake it in 1 or 2 minutes. The crust that forms the border of the tarte flambée would be nearly burned by the flames.
The name itself comes from this method of baking, the English translation of the original Alsatian name being "baked in the flames."
In some parts of Alsace, the Palatinate and Baden, the crème fraîche may be replaced by fromage blanc (similar to Quark), or by a mixture of half fromage blanc and half crème fraîche. The result resembles a thin pizza.
My latest variation of it:
Step 2: Ingredients
As i wrote in the intro, the Flammkuchen is easy to make and uses very few commonly available ingredients.(at least around here...)
For the dough: for 4 Flammkuchen
500 g flour (bread flour, but general purpose will also work)
300 ml water
16 g salt
1 g active dry yeast
2 tablespoons of olive oil
For the topping:
400 g Creme fraiche, soured cream, i read it's not as sour and thicker than sour cream
150 g Quark, fresh cheese, curd cheese, i guess the stuff in a cheese cake
360 g smoked, salted bacon cubes. You can also cut up breakfast bacon
12 spring onions, but other onions work as well
salt and pepper (on the last ones i added a little chopped fresh thyme, i like it very much)
Step 3: Preparing the Dough
I like doughs with very little yeast, so the dough has to be mixed and kneaded around 6 hours ahead of the bake.
I normally make the dough in my bread maker.
I add all the ingredients, except the oil into the mixing bowl. Then i start the pizza program on my bread maker. After a couple of minutes into kneading, i add the oil.
Step 4: Preparing the Toppings
I chop the spring onions to fine rings.
I mix the creme fraiche and quark in a bowl and pepper and salt it to taste. Don't oversalt the mix, since the bacon adds some more salt.
Step 5: Forming the Crust and Topping It
After the dough had risen for 6 hours, i take it from bowl and onto a floured working surface. (You can prolong this time, by refrigerating the dough
I divide the dough into 4 pieces and form them into balls.
I flour the peel, and start to stretch the dough into it's form.
While stretching the dough, you sometimes need to relax the dough, to be able to further stretch it. (This can be achieved by covering the dough with cling wrap and wait a couple of minutes.)
A Flammkuchen crust is quite thin, like a pizza neapolitana.
Put the stretched dough onto the peel and put the cream-mix on it. Evenly spread the mix on the dough.
Add onion rings and bacon cubes. Pat down on it, to cover the onions and bacon with the cream-mix. This way, the onions won't dry out and burn in the intense heat of the oven.
Step 6: Baking
In my wood fired oven, i heat the oven, so the oven floor is 350 C / 660 F hot.
In the electric oven, it is important to use a pizza stone.
My electric oven goes up to 300 C / 570 F and needs about 30 minutes to preheat.
In order to get a decent bake on the underside of the crust, use the lower heater.
Before i shove the Flammkuchen into the oven, i jerk the peel forth and back in short motions, to make sure it will come free from the peel.
Then i shove it into the oven, by jerking out the peel.
After about 5 minutes in the wood oven, the Flammkuchen is done.
In the electric oven, it takes around 10 minutes. But this can be different in your oven.
It's a good idea to lift it, to see if it's done. You should see brown spots on the underside of the crust.
I only made 2 of the 4 portions yesterday. I slightly oiled the 2 dough balls and put them separately into plastic bags in the fridge.
Since not everyone has a wood fired oven, i want to show you how they come out of a electric oven.
I have added some commented photos of it.
I want to stress again, that a pizza stone is really important for a crunchy fully baked crust.
Special variation with smoked salmon:
Link to my pizza oven instructable:
Step 7: My Margherita
After baking pizzas for many years with different success, i'm finally happy with my Margherita.
Margherita is the Pizza in its purest form, so it's quite easy to enhance the main pizza ingredients. Crust, pizzaiolo sauce and the cheese.
When i started baking pizza, i cooked the tomatoes in the sauce very long, in order to evaporate.
Then, after i read Peter Reinhart's pizza book, i tried the tomatoes uncooked. I marinated the diced tomatoes with olive oil salt, herbs, spices and a dash of lemon juice.
This was already close to the "perfect pizza".
I used canned, skinned and diced San Marzano tomatoes in spring. Those tomatoes are picked ripe and canned immediately. These are better than fresh tomatoes, that are picked green in order to survive shipment. But if you have access to fresh ripe tomatoes, by all means use them.
I take a can of tomatoes and pour them into a strainer to collect the liquid in a bowl.
Onions and garlic are finely diced and lightly sauteed in olive oil. When the onions get glassy, i pour the liquid onto the onions. Then i add a little concentrated tomatoe puree and let it cook to evaporate half the liquid.
After switching off the heat, i add salt, pepper, oregano (or the herbs and spices of your choice) and a dash of lemon juice. When cooled a little bit, i add the diced tomatoes.
So much for the sauce.
The next thing is the cheese. Pure mozzarella is a pretty bland cheese, even the bufala.
In the supermarkets here, i can buy a grated pizza/gratin mix. It's mozzarella with some Greyerzer.
Lately i used this mix, together with some Taleggio cheese. This made it really, really tasty.
A pizza needs to be balanced. Meaning don't overload the toppings. I like a thin crust, so not too much toppings.
After baking, i add some fresh basil.
From this point, the sky is the limit....
Some commented pictures of our last pizza party.