Author Notes: Flammkuchen in German (or tarte flambée in French) comes from the Alsace region of France. Simply, it's a (rectangular) flatbread cooked in a wood-burning oven. (The name literally means "flaming pie/tart/cake".) Classic flammkuchen toppings include: crème fraîche, fromage blanc/quark, white onions, and lardons (smoked bacon is traditional). Nutmeg and black pepper are not unwelcome. Classic derivations include: gruyère or comté cheese, and mushrooms. Tradition aside, as with pizza, it's really up to you to be as creative as you like. The cheese/vegetable/meat/herb combinations are nearly endless. Many establishments make dessert versions too, with apples, plums, spices, fruit brandies, and the like. I usually use pizza dough as my base, although you could use bread dough, or even toast. —Cristina Sciarra
Makes: 2 individual pizzas, or 1 large pizza
1/3 pound of bacon
2 small white onions
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups finely grated gruyère
2 tablespoons minced chives
- Heat the oven to 500F. If you have a pizza stone, move it to the oven a full hour before cooking, to heat up. If you are using a baking sheet, move it to the oven 30 minutes before cooking. Either way, you want to cook the flammkuchen at the base of the oven.
- Stack up your bacon, and cut it into lardons (or little matchsticks). Heat a wide pan (cast iron, if you've got one) over medium heat. When it's warm, add the bacon. Cook the lardons until they are half-way to crispy, about 5 minutes. (The bacon will cook more in the oven, so don't overdo it on the stovetop.) Move the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Meanwhile, slice up the onions quite thinly. Once the bacon is out of the pan, you can add the onions to it; the bacon fat will serve as a lovely lubricant. Cook the onions until lightly golden, 10-15 minutes. Stir in a pinch of salt.
- Move the crème fraîche to a little bowl, and grate the nutmeg directly over it. Stir to combine.
- Finely grate the cheese.
- Take a baking sheet, and flip it upside down. Flour the surface generously. (Trust me, this step will allow you to slide the flammkuchen into the oven easily.) Spread the pizza dough on top of the upturned baking sheet, and then add the toppings in this order: crème fraîche, onions, bacon, gruyère. Top with black pepper. Move the flammkuchen to the oven by carefully transferring it to the heated pizza stone/first baking sheet. (Aim for the back of the pizza stone/baking sheet.)
- Cook the flammkuchen for 3-5 minutes, or until it's bubbling and the crust is just past golden brown. Remove it from the oven (I use tongs to pull it onto a cutting board; the dough doesn't stick once it's cooked). Scatter the minced chives all over.
- Eat the flammkuchen straight out of the oven, very hot.