Alsace is perhaps best known for its crisp white wines, beautiful architecture, nesting storks and quiche but also has a whole host of delicious lesser known recipes, including this thin crust, quick bake pizza. Flammekueche/Flammkuchen/Tarte flambée as the name suggests is actually flash baked at the bottom of the bread oven and is and was traditionally a piece of dough used to test the temperature of oven prior to baking. It was also a great way the Baker provided himself with a tasty snack!
The first time I ate this, served hot and straight from the bread oven, was at an open day on an organic farm in Brittany to celebrate the Fête du lait, which takes place all across France in early June. It's a big open-air breakfast and farm festival and if you ever see one advertised - go!
It's a pizza to share with friends. Add a green salad and it makes a great picnic lunch.
Step 1: Ingredients
A Foreword about the Ingredients
All the ingredients I am using are organic and this is a very inexpensive dish as it uses only a minimum amount of each ingredient but with maximum taste, due to an unusual pizza topping - fresh cream.
The traditional ingredients for Flammekueche are cream or crème fraîche, lardons aka cured breast of pork or pork belly cut into strips and onions, all arranged onto a thin pizza-type dough base. However, if you don't eat pork, there are many delicious alternatives, such as diced sun-dried tomatoes.
We eat organic meat on a small budget, so I am always working out ways to get the best value from my butcher. In the case of this recipe, it is paradoxically better for me to use my half price heel of ham or my 5 Euro end of Parma ham (prosciutto), rather than the more expensive lardons. The cost difference is due to labour, as lardons, although from a cheap cut, are usually sold diced and I can do my own slicing! However, depending on what's available, you may be able to buy a piece of cured pork belly directly from the whole joint, so if you want to be a purist, then I would go for this.
From the point of view of the dough, we have a bread-making machine. This because Andy, who is chief bread-maker in our family, developed a flour allergy some years ago, quite common with people who always make their own bread. The home-raised quail eggs he took for hay fever and eczema have cured this and he can now make scones by hand but we'd rather not tempt fate with constant contact.
For the dough
300g, 11oz strong white flour, 2¾ cups
½ teaspoon of dried yeast
1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
A generous pinch of raw sea salt
170ml water or just under ¾ cup
For the topping
Onion - 1 large or 2 medium (I'm using red onion)
Thick raw cream or crème fraîche - 1 heaped tablespoon or enough to cover the dough in a thin layer.
Ham - I used two kinds in this pizza, strips cut from a heel of jambon blanc and jambon braisé et fumé (a braised and smoked ham). Flammkuchen cooked the traditional way has a slight smoky taste from the bottom of the bread oven, so smoked ham gives an authentic flavour.
A little chopped green bell pepper to add colour
The bread machine is set to pizza recipe, all this does is mix the dough and lets it 'rest' with a small amount of proving heat. The total programme takes 45 minutes. If you are doing this by hand, just mix the ingredients well together, knead the dough and put it to one side for around 20 minutes to rest.
The tin we use is (just to give you an idea of coverage) 37cm x 27cm or approx 15" x 11"
TEMPERATURE AND TIMES
15 - 20 minutes or until just crisp in an oven pre-heated to 230°C or 450°F. Top shelf.
Step 2: Preparing the Crust and Baking
When the dough is ready, remove it from the pan and knock it back (punch it down with the hands). This is a process by which Carbon Dioxide is removed from the dough. This is a flat bread so you don't want it to rise too much.
It is then ready to roll out.
Place dough in the buttered tin. I then cover it with a cloth and leave it to prove for a few minutes on the top of a rack on top of the wood cooker. This allows it to relax and will make for a lighter base.
Once you notice it is starting to rise, then it is ready for the topping.
Carefully spread the thick cream or crème fraîche onto the base, if you are using raw thick farm cream like mine then it can be quite tricky to get an even layer. Just do your best, as once in the oven it will melt across the dough.
Now let your artistic temperament have free range!
For Cookery is a branch of the Arts
Cook until crisp
If you want to make this into a lunch then serve with a fresh green salad and if you like, a traditional glass of organic beer.
Bon Appétit from a farmhouse in Normandie and if you want to see any more of our recipes then please feel free to visit http://simplyorganicrecipes.blogspot.com
All the very best, Sue