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COMFORT FOOD FROM ALSACE

What you see before you may look like a misshapen pizza created by a crazed German. Take a closer look.  This is a splendid flatbread from Alsace, Tarte Flambée,  made of thin layers of fresh cheese, onion and bacon on a cracker crust.  It is comforting cold weather fare for supper and the perfect appetizer for a crowd over the holidays.  The best part?  You can assemble a tarte flambée in the time it takes to preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

 

Step 1: Mix the dough in the traditional way:  blend dry ingredients, make a well for wet ingredients and stir wet together before incorporating them into the dry.  Use a fork to mix, a mixer isn’t necessary.  Add more flour by the tablespoon in the bowl until it no longer sticks to the sides.  Knead briefly on a lightly floured surface.  Let the dough rest while you prep the topping.
Step 2: Thinly slice a white onion and cut thick-cut bacon into small pieces. (ChezM tip: Lightly salt the onion slices with kosher salt to create a thin layer of moisture that will protect them from oxidizing and developing a sulfurous aroma.) 

Sept 3:  Blend together equal parts Neufchatel (cream cheese) and creme fraîche, then lightly seasoned with salt, white pepper and nutmeg.  This step is not illustrated, but you get the point. 
Step 4: Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface and slide it onto a sheet of parchment.   Cover the dough with cheese mixture to within one-half inch of the edge.  Scatter on the thinly sliced onions and bacon in an even layer. 
Step 5:  Bake for 7 - 10 minutes, until the edges of the dough are highly browned.  Cut into pieces with a pizza wheel, and serve with salad for supper, or cut into small squares to serve as an appetizer.  Pour a glass of semi-dry Alsatian wine, hard cider or beer to enjoy with your tart.

   

Backstories:  Some accounts say this tart was created to check the temperature of a baker’s wood burning oven before thermometers came into use.  The time it took for the thin crust to darken was a gauge of the oven’s heat.  Other sources report the tart was baked in the hot oven after the baking was finished.  In either case, the baker would slather it with heavy cream so as to make a tasty treat.  It was never baked until it actually flamed as the name implies. 
 ChezM Tips: For best results make sure your oven is at 500 degrees.  My favorite tool for this purpose is an infared thermometer that reflects the heat off the back of the oven.  Second best is a mercury thermometer that hangs from a rack in the middle of the oven.  Baking on a pizza stone is undoubtedly the best way to simulate the original recipe.

Link the recipe:TARTE FLAMBÉE Recipe