It’s no secret that I love making pizza, and Flammekuechen, the Alsatian version of a thin-crust pizza made with cream, onions and bacon, is a favorite, to bake in my wood-fired oven now that winter is really here.
In this version I have lightened the recipe by replacing the traditional cream with non-fat yogurt or fromage blanc and steaming the onions instead of sweating them in fat. However, on a chilly night you might just feel like adding back the cream and sweated onions! Serve with a green salad and a class of chilled Riesling and transport yourself to Alsace!
Equipment: A baking stone; a steamer; a wooden pizza peel; a metal pizza peel or large metal spatula (If you don’t have a baking stone and a wooden peel, simply sprinkle the polenta on a baking sheet, place the round of dough on top, assemble the tart, and bake on the baking sheet).
8 ounces (250 g) large white onions, peeled and cut crosswise into very thin rounds
4 ounces (125 g) thinly sliced pancetta or bacon, cut into cubes
1/2 cup (150 g) nonfat Greek-style yogurt or fromage blanc
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Flour and polenta for dusting
1 recipe Quick Whole Wheat Bread Tart Dough (below), shaped into a ball
Coarse, freshly ground black pepper
- Place the baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C).
- Separate the onions into rings. You should have about 4 cups (1 liter) loosely packed onions.
- Bring 1 quart (1 liter) of water to a simmer in the bottom of a steamer. Place the onions on the steaming rack. Place the rack over simmering water, cover, and steam until the onions are al dente 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the basket from the steamer to drain the onions. (This can be done 2 to 3 hours before serving.
- In a large dry skillet, brown the pancetta over moderate heat until crisp and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to several layers of paper towels to absorb the fat. Blot the top of the pancetta with several layers of paper towel to absorb any additional fat.
- In a medium bowl combine the yogurt, nutmeg, onions, and half of the pancetta. Stir to blend.
- On a generously floured work surface, roll the dough into a 12- inch (30 cm) round.
- Sprinkle the wooden pizza peel with polenta and place the round of dough on the peel. Working quickly to keep the dough from sticking, assemble the tart: Spread the yogurt mixture evenly over the dough. Sprinkle with the remaining pancetta.
- Slide the dough off the peel and onto the baking stone. Bake until the dough is crisp and golden, and the top is bubbly, about 10 minutes.
- With the metal pizza peel or large spatula, remove the tart from the baking stone. Sprinkle generously with pepper. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 8 wedges. Serve immediately.
Makes one 12-inch tart
Wine suggestion: A young, fresh dry Alsatian Riesling is in order here: Try one from the reputable firms of Ostertag or Zind-Humbrecht – crisp, dry, smoky wines with a saline touch of chalky minerality, an even match for the creamy onion and pancetta mixture offset with a hit of black pepper.
Quick Whole Wheat Bread Tart Dough
Equipment: A food processor.
3/4 cup (120 g) whole wheat flour
3/4 cup (120 g) bread flour, plus extra if needed for dusting
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) quick-rising yeast
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
In the bowl of a food processor combine the whole wheat flour, bread flour, yeast, salt, and sugar and pulse to mix. Combine 1/2 cup (125 ml) of hot water and the olive oil in a measuring cup. With the motor running, gradually add enough of the hot liquid for the mixture to form a sticky ball. The dough should be soft. If it is too dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. If it is too sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour. Process until the dough forms a ball. Transfer to a clean, floured surface and knead by hand for 1 minute. Cover with a cloth and let rest for at least 10 minutes before rolling. (The dough will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 4 days. Punch down the dough as necessary).
Makes one 12-inch (30 cm) pizza or flatbread
This recipe is the copyright of Patricia Wells. All rights reserved.