Tarte flambée literally translates as ‘toasted tart or fired tart’ – but it’s not a tart, and it’s not toasted, and neither is it flambeed!
Tarte flambée is it’s French name, but it’s also known as flammekueche which it’s called in the north of France, having originated in Alsace, north east France.
It’s a cross between a flat pizza and a savoury tart. A thin sheet of unleavened dough is spread with crème fraiche, then you add toppings, which for a classic flammekueche includes include onion, lardons (bacon) and cheese but really almost anything goes (though best not to add anything too wet as it makes the dough soggy). It’s absolutely delicious.
It used to be a popular dish for poor people and to this day you’re unlikely to find it on a menu in a fine dine restaurant. But in traditional cafés and bistros, especially in the north, it’s really popular.
It’s very easy to make. And, you don’t need to wait for the dough to rise which makes it very quick to prepare. It’s a great snack, good for lunch or dinner with a salad, and perfect for sharing.
Tarte Flambée dough
260g/2 cups/ 9oz All-purpose flour
150ml/ 2/3 cup/5 fl oz water at room temperature
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Teaspoon salt
Tarte Flambée topping
1 medium onion
3-4 strips streaky bacon or 120g lardons ( ½ cup/ 4 oz)
120g/ ½ cup/ 4oz crème fraiche
½ Teaspoon salt
Optional: ½ cup grated cheese, handful of thinly sliced mushrooms, handful of sliced spiced sausage (cooked)
Preheat oven to 500˚F/ 260 degrees/ gas mark 10
Prepare the dough with a mixer or by hand. Mix the flour, oil, and salt in a large bowl and stir to together. Slowly stir in the water and knead for a couple minutes. Leave in a bowl, covered with a cloth of cling film while you prepare the topping.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Peel and chop the onion into very thin slices and sweat them on a low heat with a knob of butter for 5 minutes but don’t brown them.
Cut the bacon strips into 1/4-inch-thick strips (or use lardons) and fry gently but don’t brown them.
Mix the cream, salt, pepper with a tiny sprinkle of nutmeg in a small bowl and stir.
Roll the dough out on a floured work surface and cut to fit your baking tray.
Spread the sour cream mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border.
Sprinkle with the onions and bacon lardons. And if you’re using them, sprinkle with other ingredients ending with the cheese.
Bake for between 12-18 minutes – the pastry edges should be golden and crispy.
Eat immediately. Preferably with a glass of Alsace wine.