Tarte flambée is the Alsatian version of the Italian Pizza. Traditionally, it is cooked quickly at very high temperature in a wood-fired oven and takes its name from the fact that the edge of the dough often caught fire in the intense heat of the oven.
Depending on the region, this tart can be called in Alsatian "flammekueche", in German "Flammkuchen", or in French "tarte flambée".
The tarte flambée, consists of a thin bread base, either round or rectangular, that is typically topped with fromage blanc or crème fraîche, lardoons and onions - all popular ingredients in Alsatian cuisine.
There are many variations of the original recipe and there are really no limits as to what can be added as a topping. For example you could add smoked bacon and reblochon or gruyère cheese or maybe red onions and pancetta. For today I chose a seasonal springtime topping of white and green asparagus and some delicious Italian Prosciutto.
In Germany asparagus still is a distinctly seasonal product. Just as apples mark the fall season, nothing epitomizes spring quite like the revered white stalk (green asparagus is still quite uncommon around here).
Ingredients for the Dough
(please note that the dough makes enough for two tarts - the second half will be turned into a sweet dessert tarte flambée tomorrow)
- 160 ml (2/3 cup) warm water
- 1 package (2 ½ tsp) active dry yeast
- ½ tsp sugar
- 315 grams (2 cups) bread flour, plus some more for dusting
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus some more for oiling
- some sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Ingredients for the Topping
- 250 grams (8.8 ounces) fresh white asparagus (try to choose thin stalks)
- 250 grams (8.8 ounces) gfresh green asparagus (try to choose thin stalks)
- 200 grams (7 ounces) crème fraîche or fromage blanc
- some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3-4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 150 grams (5.2 ounces) Prosciutto, very thinly sliced
Preparation of the Dough
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Then add the flour, oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- Stir until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Pull the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times, then form into a ball.
- Oil a second bowl, put the dough ball in the bowl, and turn to coat it with oil.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free area.
- Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about an hour or an hour and a half.
Preparation of the Topping
- While the dough is rising, prepare the asparagus. First, completely peel the white asparagus with a swivel vegetable peeler. White asparagus is peeled downwards starting just below the tip. Then for the green asparagus just peel the lower stalks to avoid any woody strings and chop off the bottom of all stalks, green and white.
- Then pre-cook the white asparagus for about eight to ten minutes (depending on the thickness of the stalks) in boiling, salted water and the green asparagus for about four minutes. Drain the asparagus on paper towels. NOTE: there is a special steamer which is supposed to help cook the asparagus as gently as possible, preserving more of its flavor. When using a normal pan, a good trick is to tie the stalks together using kitchen twine. The cooking water may be flavored beforehand by adding some butter, salt, a pinch of sugar and the stems and peel left over from peeling.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Once the dough has risen, place it onto a floured work surface.
- Roll the dough out thinly into a rectangular shape and transfer it onto a floured baking sheet (you can the other half of the dough for the dessert - please see tomorrow´s post).
- Spread the dough with the crème fraîche, followed by the white and green asparagus, making sure to go all the way to the edge with all the ingredients. Season well with some salt and black pepper and a bit of olive oil.
- Bake until the crust of the tart is firm and browned at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Transfer the tart to a wooden board, garnish with the slices of Prosciutto, a bit more olive oil and some more salt and pepper to taste.
- Cut into wedges and serve at once.
This is a tarte flambée with the most quintessentail spring vegetables you can find around here, asparagus. It is delicious and pretty and can be eaten on its own or with a spring salad alongside. Since asparagus season officially ends on June 24th here, I always make sure to prepare as many dishes with this fabulous healthy vegetables as I can.
Just remember when buying asparagus, that freshness is the key to the perfect flavor and texture. Gourmets know that it tastes best "picked in the morning, eaten at midday". Make sure the stems are firm, crisp and plump, and have the characteristic velvety sheen. The tips should be intact and firm. If you don't intend to cook them right away, wrap them in a damp kitchen towel and store in the refrigerator's crisper.
The other half of the dough can be kept in the fridge for tomorrow´s dessert version of a Tarte flambée with a delightful topping of fresh apples, cinammon and sugar.