Friday, 30 November 2012

Flammekueche

Flammekueche, street food from Alsace, is probably best described as a Franco-German pizza. You won't find any tomato sauce on it, or olives, peppers or any other traditional pizza topping but it's made in the same way - a very thin dough base topped with ingredients then cooked in a very hot wood-burning oven.

The French region of Alsace has historically changed hands with Germany many times, hence the German-sounding name for this dish. The Germans call it flammkuchen, the French tarte flambée, but the Alsatian name is what it's best known by. A while back I discovered that the discount supermarket Lidl sometimes has flammekueche in its freezer section, usually when it has a French promotion, so it's worth having a look there. If I see them, I snap them up quick!

However, it's ridiculously easy to make at home if you cheat. It's absolutely not worth knocking up a batch of pizza dough for one person but if you can get hold of a good quality, ready-made pizza base you can have food on the table in 15 minutes. All you need after that are the toppings - crème fraiche, onions and bacon.

What you need:
An artisan pizza base
Creme fraiche
A small packet of lardons
A small onion, finely diced
Seasoning

What to do:
Heat the oven to 200-220C - if you have time, get it hot well in advance so the heat really has a chance to build up and stay there.

Put the base on a pizza stone and spread it almost to the edge with the creme fraiche - about 3tbsp should be enough for a 12" base. Scatter over the onion and lardons and grind a little black pepper over. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Cook's tips:
The base needs to be as thin as possible. Anything from a supermarket will be too thick and doughy. The one I used here came from a farmers' market and was handmade. At less than 1mm thick, it was perfect. Check the cooking instructions on the pack but the temperature and time I gave up should be about right. And of course it will depend on the idiosyncrasies of your oven.

If you're using regular bacon, 2-3 slices of streaky cut into 1mm shreds is a good substitute for the lardons.

A classic flammekueche has just the ingredients listed but variations in Alsace include mushrooms or cheese. If you decide to add cheese, don't use cheddar as it goes too gooey - a French-style hard cheese such as Gruyère works best.