A French classic from the Alsace-Lorraine region –also known as flammekeuche if you live on the other side of the border. It is not quite a tart and not quite a pizza although it certainly resembles the latter. The dough is traditionally unleavened so you need to roll it out as thinly as possible. I also pre-cook the base to ensure a crisper result. I am sure this would cook very well in a pizza oven (no need to pre-cook the base) but as I don’t have one I will have to rely on feedback from those who do. The good burghers of Alsace-Lorraine would not approve I am sure but I prefer to cook with gianciale chopped into cubes rather than lardons- but it is not widely available so have listed lardons or pancetta (again not strictly correct).
- 300g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons light olive oil
- 160-170ml water
- 170g smoked lardons or pancetta cubes
- 1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 120g crème fraiche (full fat)
- 40g gruyère cheese, grated
- Mix the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and pour in the oil and most of the water. Bring the mixture together, adding the remaining water if you feel the dough is not wet enough. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for about 3-4 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place back in the bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rest at room temperature while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Heat the oven to its highest temperature.
- Put the lardons or pancetta in a frying pan (no need to add oil) and fry over a high heat to brown the cubes-about 4-5 minutes. Remove the lardons with a slotted spoon-leaving the rendered fat in the pan (to cook the onion later) and drain on kitchen paper. Set aside.
- Turn the heat down and gently cook the onion with a pinch of salt in the fat for 8-10 minutes. Drain off any excess fat, mix in the thyme leaves and set aside while you roll out the dough.
- On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough as thinly as possible -to a square measuring about 30 x 30cm. If you haven’t got a big enough baking sheet you can make two smaller tarts. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes. Flip the base over and return to the oven for about 4 minutes until the edges are turning golden and the centre feels quite dry. Take out and spread the crème fraiche over the surface, leaving a small margin around the edges. Scatter over the onions and lardons followed by the cheese. Return to the oven for about 8-10 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the topping is bubbling. Serve as soon as possible.