As you may have read on our blog last week, Alsace is a pretty magical place. Yes, the villages are picture perfect, the wine is mouthwateringly delicious, the people are friendly, and the area isn’t overrun by tourists…but the best thing about Alsace very well may be the tarte flambée. Often described (much to the dismay of the Alsatians) as the region’s version of pizza, tarte flambée in it’s purest form is comprised of a thin crust, a layer of fromage blanc, crème fraiche, onions, and lardons. Also known by its German name, flammkuchen, this delicious treat is a perfect pairing with wine of the area. The rich, salty flavors of tarte flambée play particularly well with the acidity and residual sugar in Alsatian Rieslings. These days, you’ll find many variations on the classic recipe. Some of the most popular include Gratinée (with gruyere cheese) and Forestière (with mushrooms). Both are delicious, but in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with the classic. As fall sets in here in the UK, I’ve been craving richer, carb forward foods, so I thought now would be the perfect time to share my recipe for tarte flambée. It’s the perfect appetizer for a dinner party…or, the perfect meal for a night of watching movies on the couch.
Ingredients in Tarte Flambée
The only ingredient that you may have trouble finding when you’re making tarte flambée is fromage blanc. It’s a fresh cows milk spreadable cheese that is naturally fat free. For this reason, it is typically blended with crème fraiche prior to being spread on the tarte base, to add a bit of richness. I was not able to find fromage blanc at my local grocery store, however I did find fromage frais, which is essentially the same thing except it contains live cultures, whereas with fromage blanc, fermentation has been halted. The fromage frais worked well, but I suspect it would have tasted just as good with Greek yogurt, so feel free to substitute as necessary.
How to Make Tarte Flambée
Unlike pizza crust, the crust for tarte flambée is leavened with baking powder – which is great news for people like me who are impatient and hate waiting for dough to rise! Many crust recipes, including mine, have an egg or egg yolk in them for added richness, leavening and tenderness. The crust is very simple and only requires a minute or so of kneading. You don’t need to allow the dough to rest, so you can shape the dough using a rolling pin as soon as it comes together – I like to make imperfect oblong shapes, which I think look casual and rustic and are easy to cut (it’s definitely not because I’m incapable of making a nice looking circle. I promise). Then all that’s left is topping your tart with a mix of fromage blanc and crème fraiche (plus a little nutmeg for a little extra oomph), lardons (fancy French word for bacon bits) and onions. I like to sweat the onions in bacon fat, but you certainly don’t have to if you don’t mind a stronger onion flavor. If you’d like, you can add other toppings like the traditional cheese or mushrooms or go crazy with some shredded kale or roasted butternut squash. Like most flatbread-type-foods the possibilities are endless. Then bake off your tartes in a screaming hot oven, cut, serve, and instantly become the most popular person in the room.
What to Drink with Tarte Flambée
I highly recommend enjoying your tarte flambée with a glass of Alsatian Riesling. Trimbach is a fantastic and easily accessible producer that offers excellent options in every price point – their wines would pair perfectly with your tarte flambée (as well as your time in the kitchen preparing it!). That said, no judgements if you prefer to go with beer instead! I certainly wouldn’t turn down that pairing.
Tarte Flambée Recipe
4 slices of thick cut smoked bacon
1 onion, thinly sliced
½ cup crème fraiche
¾ cup fromage blanc (or fromage frais, or Greek yogurt)
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 ¾ cups flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon neutral oil or olive oil
2 egg yolks
½ cup water
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
Preheat your oven to 500.° Place a pizza stone or heavy bottomed baking sheet on the center rack.
Slice bacon thinly width-wise, then cook over medium heat until nearly crispy. Drain bacon on a paper towel and set aside. Pour off all but about 2 teaspoons of fat from the skillet, then add the onions and cook over low heat until they just start to become translucent. Set aside.
Combine crème fraiche, fromage blanc, nutmeg, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Set aside.
Stir together flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Whisk water, oil, and egg yolks in another bowl, then add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture. Stir until a shaggy dough forms, then turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Divide into three pieces.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 12” circle or a 14-15” oblong shape (my preference!). Place the rolled out dough onto a sheet of parchment paper. Spread 1/3 of the crème fraiche mixture on the crust (leaving a ¼ inch border around the edge) and then sprinkle on 1/3 of the onions and bacon. Transfer the tarte to the preheated pizza stone/baking sheet (preferably by using a pizza peel, but if you don’t’ have one, you can slide it off of a plate, cutting board, or an upside down baking sheet – not ideal, but it works). Bake until the crust is golden brown and crispy – about 8 minutes. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients.
The only thing better than making this dish at home is enjoying one in an outdoor cafe in one of the picturesque villages of Alsace. We can help with that! Remember, we are always available to you and your friends and family for custom trip planning to Europe. We are experts in creating custom travel itineraries and leading small group trips to European destinations. You can always send Betsy an email to discuss the possibilities. We would love to help you make your travel dreams to Europe come true!
Chelsea is one third of the Euro Travel Coach team (and is the daughter of the other two thirds of the team, Greg and Betsy). She has a passion for food and wine and has a background in hospitality. She attended Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration and interned with two of New York City's best restaurant groups while she was in school. After graduation she worked at the number one wine auction house in the United States, Chicago's Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. There, she organized various wine centric events for HDH's most valuable clients. She and her husband moved to Copenhagen, Denmark in 2016 and then to Bristol, UK in 2018 and have traveled extensively during their time living in Europe. Her expertise in food and wine and her experience living abroad helps her to find amazing accommodations, delicious restaurants, and unique experiences for Euro Travel Coach clients.
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