Flammkuchen


Flammkuchen (Fr. Tarte Flambée) is something I remember eating for the first time with my family on a trip, fourteen years ago, to Strasburg in the Alsace region of France. Strasburg is a bilingual, though mostly French-speaking, city on the border between Germany and France, and is best known for its importance in European politics, hosting among other things the European Union’s Council of Europe. We were there as a family stopping over from a trip back from the Cevennes area (just north of the Provence) and wanted dinner badly. On family trips, dinner has always been a problem for us. Normally the process goes something like this: our blood sugar goes down, our pickiness goes up, we end up not being able to decide on anything to eat, and commonly someone ends up in tears.

Not this time. We went into a well-visited establishment, sat down outside, and my mother ordered us all Tarte Flambée (normally my mom doesn’t order for us all, but her French skills were the best and she knew what the local specialties were. Besides, my sister and I were probably still bickering due to our low blood sugar). We loved it as soon as we bit into it. The incredibly thin, crisp crust delicately covered with a layer of seasoned sour cream, some onions, and bacon were incredible. I don’t have any idea how many of these we ate, but it was quite a few. At the end of the evening the waitress simply tallied up how many we ate according to hatch marks she had made each time she brought us another “tart.”

Flammkuchen is also common in Germany, which is why it has a German name. It’s called by many other names as well, but most people recognize Flammkuchen even if they’re not from the southwest. Literally translated it means “Flame Cake,” and it is presumed that this comes from its original heritage as something put in to test the heat of the oven before baking bread and other foods.

It’s most popular in Germany just after the grape harvest, when the new wine, most popularly known as Federweißer, hits the market and is drunk. Federweißer is a wine that has just begun its first fermentation. The stage it is served in can vary from grape juice to a “young” white wine. The harvest season is beginning now, so restaurants across the Alsace and southwest Germany are beginning to offer Flammkuchen and Federweißer specials. I think the “new wine” is lighter than regular wine, and since its alcohol content is much lower you can drink a lot more. And of course, each time you have another glass you must have another Flammkuchen!

Flammkuchen

This is a recipe that doesn’t require any yeast, which I find prevents the crust from getting too thick. It’s extremely versatile, and you can put toppings other than the traditional on it. We’ve made it for a dinner party with toppings varying from Greek to Mexican. However, remember that it must be served fresh out of the oven, which may be difficult when serving guests and hosting at the same time. It’s also a nice, quick, thin pizza crust.

For dough:
250g (ca 2 cups) Flour
2.5 Tbsp Canola Oil
150ml (ca 2/3 cup) Water
Pinch of Salt

For toppings:
250g (ca. 1 cup) Crème Frâiche
1 onion (can be red or sweet onions)
1 Tbsp Butter
125g (ca. 1/4lb) Bacon
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 clove Garlic

Combine ingredients for crust. The dough shouldn’t be sticky. Slice onions into rings and sauté in butter until clear (don’t caramelize). Cook bacon until crisp. Finely chop garlic and add it with seasonings to the cream. Roll out the dough as thinly as possible and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. On the highest heat your oven will go (or around 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit) bake for around 10-15 minutes, or until the dough has begun to create bubbles and you see nice browning (you don’t want burnt!). You will have to keep an eye on this, baking it is an art and each oven is different so watch it carefully the first time you make it. Serve with a green salad and Federweißer or a light white wine (it doesn’t need to be sweet, a dry Riesling will do well, as will a Pinot Gris).

12 Responses to “Flammkuchen”

  1. Hey Kerstin! I hadn’t visited your blog in a while, and then to what did my wondering eyes appear but a Flamkeuche and eight tiny reindeer. No really though, I was pleasantly surprised by the pic. I ate this often while in Lille. I hope that school is going well, it looks very exciting.
    Christina

  2. I’ve tagged you for a meme! Check my blog for the details.

  3. Hello! I’ve been really craving flaumkucken lately, and wanted to get as close to the Karlsuhe Kind as possible! And this sounds perfect! I was wondering if you pure bake the crust? Or just put the creme fraiche right on the dough and bake it all together. Just curious. Excited to try this!!!

    • Hi Emily! Glad you found the recipe. Yes, go the lazy route and just throw the toppings on the unbaked crust. It is so thin that it doesn’t require par-baking, in fact baking just the crust in advance would probably be detrimental to the finished product because it would get too crisp (like cracker-bread, instead of thin flatbread). Let me know how it turns out for you!

  4. We fell in love with flammkuchen while in Europe this summer and I was searching for an authentice recipe. Made this version multiple times and love it. It’s quick, easy and inexpensive. Also experimented with other toppings such as spinach, asparagus and sliced tomato…all great. Thanks.

    • Cheri, I’m so glad you found the recipe and enjoy it! I love making variations – I’ll have to try it with asparagus since they’re in season and I love them. Guten Appetit!

  5. Hi Kerstin,
    Just discovered your blog in a Google search for Flammkuchen recipes. We had never had Flammkuchen before our trip around Germany last November for the Christmas markets. We all fell in love and couldn’t get enough of it, but I forgot about it until we recently returned to Europe and saw it on a menu in Luzern, Switzerland. Once I got back home, I knew I’d have to search a recipe for this delicious comfort food.
    I’m curious if you could comment on the lack of yeast in the crust. Some recipes I’m running across include yeast; others do not. Your thoughts?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Joyce,

      I’m so glad you found the blog! I do get asked about yeast – I find that my recipe makes a really nice, crisp yet tender crust in a home oven (which can’t reach the temps of professional wood-fired ovens). I am not sure if professional recipes include yeast, but my home experience with yeast doughs is that they tend to produce much thicker crusts than I like my Flammkuchen crust to be. However, I always recommend experimentation, so if you go the yeast route please come back and report how it goes!

      Best,
      Kerstin

  6. My husband and I just returned from Europe and had Flammkuchen for the first time. We were with German friends who recommended it and although we thought it was just flatbread pizza when it arrived on the table we were pleasantly surprised that it was much better. We had it again before we left and I am going to attempt your recipe this weekend and then try it again using yeast as a lot of the recipes seem to use. Fortunately our local supermarket also stocks creme fraiche so no having to make my own.

    • Susan, I’m so glad you’re going to experiment! Let me know how it goes, especially with using a yeasted dough recipe. I often simply use sour cream instead of creme fraiche, since it’s cheaper and more readily available. I haven’t noticed a large difference in quality/taste. Guten Apetit!

  7. Kerstin, I served your Flammkuchen last evening. They turned out super! Thanks for the easy recipe! Love, Dad

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