Dish of the Week: Tarte Flambée (or Flammkuchen)

Tarte flambée may just be your new favorite pizza.
Tarte flambée may just be your new favorite pizza. Photo by Moritz Barcelona
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re sharing a recipe for tarte flambée.

Popular in the Alsace region of eastern France, tarte flambée translates to “pie baked in the flames.” It is also popular in the bordering region of southern Germany, where it's called flammkuchen, meaning “flame cake.” Think of it as like an extremely thin crust pizza, made with thinly rolled dough slathered with fromage blanc (a fresh, spreadable white cheese) and/or crème fraîche, sliced onions and lardons (small cubes of pork fat). As both names suggest, the dish is traditionally cooked in a wood-fired oven, the intense heat of which scorches the dough in about a minute.

Originating as a peasant dish, the flatbread was made using leftover scraps of dough, which would be rolled thin, covered with cream and baked either as a way to test the heat of the oven before baking bread or to make use of the oven's remaining flames. Eventually, year-round ingredients like fromage blanc, onions and lardon were incorporated.

This recipe, from Serious Eats, calls for a mixture of fromage blanc and crème fraîche, but if you have trouble finding fromage blanc, you can substitute the entire mixture for equal parts cream cheese and buttermilk. The recipe also calls for a baking steel or pizza stone (to help achieve the enviable crisp of a wood-fired oven).

Classic Tarte Flambée

Ingredients makes 4 flatbreads
1 cup fromage blanc**
1/2 cup crème fraîche**
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 recipe Basic New York Pizza Dough or 2 pounds store-bought pizza dough, divided into 4 even portions, proofed, and ready to stretch and top
Flour, for dusting
1 medium white or yellow onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
**Or substitute the fromage blanc and crème fraîche with 3/4 cup cream cheese and 3/4 cup buttermilk.

Set Baking Steel on oven rack 6 to 8 inches from broiler and preheat oven to 550°F (or highest possible setting) for one hour.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk fromage blanc with crème fraîche until thoroughly incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, whisk in nutmeg.

Working with one piece at a time, set dough on a lightly floured work surface. Using your hands and/or a rolling pin, work dough to a thin, roughly 10- by 5- inch oval. Transfer dough to a pizza peel.

Switch broiler onto high. Spread one quarter of fromage blanc mixture over dough, leaving a 1-centimeter border around the edge. Scatter a small handful of onion all over, followed by a small handful of bacon.

Slide pizza onto baking stone and bake until toppings are browned spots and crust is golden brown and puffed, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately, and repeat with remaining dough and toppings.
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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano