All week long, the lovely Dorie Greenspan is serving as a Guest Editor here at Food52, sharing recipes and stories from her latest book, Baking Chez Moi. We're also giving away a copy each day! Because we want to give the gift of Dorie.
Today: Dorie is hooked on this paper-thin Alsatian "pizza" -- soon you will be, too.
It’s okay if you think tarte flambée is pizza -- everyone in France does, except the Alsatians, who created and treasure it. The classic tarte flambée -- sometimes called flammkuchen -- is savory and, like pizza, it’s built on a thin base of bread dough that’s baked in a ferociously hot oven until it bubbles and blisters. It’s topped with fresh cheese -- usually fromage blanc and crème fraîche -- and scattered with bacon and onions. Like pizza, it’s ubiquitous, at least in eastern France. And also like pizza, it can be very, very good or very, very bad. It is wonderful at Flamme & Co restaurant, where the chef, Olivier Nasti, who trained with the greats and earned the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (the highest award a chef can attain) decided to turn his talents to making the best -- and most modern -- tarte flambée in the region.
More: Get your oven hot, hot, hot with a baking stone.
At Flamme & Co, the tarte flambée is paper-thin, bursting with flavor, and either sweet or savory. Their tarts are rolled out in rectangles, baked in a flash, and served on wooden cutting boards. My husband and I each had a savory one and then we shared a version of this apple tart. By the time dessert came around, I had asked the server so many questions that he suggested I go into the open kitchen and make my own tart with the chef -- an invitation I didn’t refuse.
The instant we got back to Paris, I went on a tarte flambée-baking binge, and I amazed my Alsatian friends, not because I’d made the tarts, but because I’d made my own yeast-risen dough instead of using store-bought bread dough or puff pastry. If you’d like, you’ve got my permission to go Parisian and use store-bought dough. Do that, and you’ll be able to whip up a tarte flambée on the spur of the moment.
A word on baking and gear: The best tartes are baked in wood-burning ovens, but you can get a great crust by cranking your oven up to its max and using a baking stone. Put the baking stone into the cold oven, turn up the heat, and let the oven preheat for another 20 minutes after it’s reached temperature. If you don’t have a baking stone, use a heavy cookie sheet. If you’ve got a pizza peel, pull it out; if not, use a rimless cookie sheet as a peel. The tarte flambée is going to be big, so if your baking stone isn’t large, make two smaller tarts.
For the crust:
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) warm water, plus a bit more if needed
1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons rye flour
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 teaspoons olive oil
For the topping:
1 1/2 ounces (43 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup (56 grams) plain Greek yogurt (non-fat is fine), or use 1/3 cup (95 grams) fromage blanc in place of the cream cheese and yogurt
2 tablespoons heavy cream or crème fraîche
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 large apples, such as Golden Delicious or Fuji
Sugar or cinnamon sugar, for dusting
Photo by Alan Richardson
We're giving away a copy of Baking Chez Moi every day this week! To win today's copy, tell us in the comments: How are you baking your apples this fall? We'll choose winners this Friday, October 24th. (U.S. entrants only, please!)