Flammekueche (Alsatian Pizza) Recipe

The divine flammekueche recipe inspired by Frédérique's.

When we get to spend time at my parents’ vacation house in the Vosges, a mountain range in the Northeast of France, one of our favorite daytrips is to drive over to Colmar, a historic Alsatian town on the other side of the mountain.

We’ve been going for as long as my parents have had the house, a little over twenty years, and though Colmar is as gorgeous as Alsatian towns get (i.e. very), with paved streets, pretty canals, and amazing architecture, the capital-D Draw for me is the flammekueche we get for lunch.

Also known as tarte flambée, the flammekueche (pronounced flam-küsh*) can be described as the Alsatian pizza: a super thin round of dough topped with cream, finely sliced onions, bacon strips, and sometimes mushrooms (la forestière) and cheese (la gratinée), baked in a woodfire oven until the edges are golden brown and crisp.

Sitting at one of the outdoor tables outside our favorite restaurant in Colmar, we make conversation as we wait for our tartes flambées to arrive, and our collective joy vibrates through the air as the waitstaff brings them out, all hot and fragrant, on wooden boards.

Flammekueche (Alsatian Pizza)

I would never have thought to make my own had it not been for Frédérique, the textile designer and special correspondent who will be sharing her guide to Strasbourg next month, and offered her recipe for flammekueche as a bonus. As she explained, it is a popular dish to make for a casual meal with friends throughout Alsace. In fact, it is so common that supermarkets sell ready-made rounds of dough that you can just garnish and bake.

I’ve never come across those in Paris, and soon found out the dough is so easy to make there is hardly a need for a shortcut: it’s just flour, salt, oil, and water — no yeast to intimidate the cook.

And once you’ve got your dough rolled out thinly, it’s just a matter of scattering a few toppings over it, and bake in a very hot oven. Within minutes, you can have your very own tarte flambée sizzling on your table.

Indeed, I can’t think of a more festive food to share with friends over drinks. But it comes together so fast Maxence and I have also enjoyed it for a weeknight dinner. In fact, I did a test run one night, and we loved it so much we had tartes flambées for dinner four. nights. in a row. We called it Alsatian week.

Flammekueche (Tarte flambée)

* Alternate spellings are numerous depending on the region and the dialect: flammkuche, flammkuchen, flammekuechle, flàmmeküeche…

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Flammekueche (Alsatian Pizza) Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Makes 2 flammekueche, to serve 4 as a main dish, 8 as an appetizer.

Flammekueche (Alsatian Pizza) Recipe

Ingredients

    For the dough:
  • 250 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons organic canola oil
  • About 120 ml (1/2 cup) water
  • For the filling:
  • 6 tablespoons very thinly sliced onion, red or yellow
  • 75 grams (2 2/3) thick-cut uncooked bacon, sliced into 1-cm (1/3-inch) strips (called lardons in French)
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) thick crème fraîche (substitute sour cream) (see note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated cheese, such as Comté or Gruyère (optional)
  • Chives, snipped
  • Optional additions: sliced mushrooms or sliced French Munster cheese

Instructions

  1. First, make the dough. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and oil. Stir in the water slowly, using a fork or a dough whisk, until it comes together. (The exact amount of water needed will vary depending on the quality of your flour, how you've measure it, the humidity, etc. Adjust accordingly.)
  2. Flammekueche: Preparing the dough
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly to form a ball. (If preparing the dough in advance, place the ball on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to a day.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 250°C (480°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Divide the dough in 2 equal pieces; cover the one you won't be using right away.
  6. On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a thin, approximate circle, about 35 cm (14 inches) in width.
  7. Flammekueche: Rolling out dough
  8. In a bowl, combine the crème fraîche with the salt, black pepper, and nutmeg.
  9. Spread half of this on the circle of dough. Top with half the onion and lardons. If using grated cheese, add it now.
  10. Flammekueche: Dough with toppings
  11. Bake for 10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown at the edges and the filling is bubbly.
  12. Transfer to a cutting board. Sprinkle with chives, and cut slices with kitchen shears or a pizza wheel. Make a second flammekueche with the remaining ingredients.

Notes

  • Some Alsatian cooks make flammekueche with just crème fraîche, others with just fromage blanc (a fresh cheese that's the consistency of yogurt), others yet with a mix of the two. I've used crème fraîche only for simplicity.
  • More is not better when it comes to tarte flambée toppings: don't pile on everything you've got, or it will be soggy and out of balance.

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/appetizers/flammekueche-alsatian-pizza-recipe/
  • Peppermint Dolly
  • I make these often in winter. Great as an apéro too.

    • Absolutely! Great as a finger food with friends.

      • Annabel Smyth

        As I mentioned above, we used to have a resto near us that specialised in it. We only went if there were a few of us, as you then each ordered one you fancied to share around. One day we took my daughter and a friend from uni, who had been to a party the night before – they declared it “perfect hangover food!”

  • Carl Lutes

    Thanks for posting this. A new favorite food that I discovered while visiting distant cousins in Alsace!

    • I hope you get a chance to recreate it at home!

      • Carl Lutes

        We will try for sure. Thanks again for posting.

  • Susan Foulds

    This looks scrumptious. I am going to make it for dinner tonight for my husband and son. It looks like the kind of recipe that will go into regular rotation in our household. And I was not familiar with this recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  • Annabel Smyth

    I adore flammküche, so am delighted to see this recipe – and it will be one to make with the grandsons once I have made it for us. We used to have a resto near us that specialised in it (try it with Nutella and banana for a dessert version!), but it had gone the way of all good restos, alas!

    I’ve only been to Colmar once, but loved it. I remember the storks nesting on the Mairie!

    • I love storks! It feels so special to spot them. There’s a couple that nests in Munster, too, which is our usual halfway stop when we drive to Colmar.

      • Annabel Smyth

        I rather love the Vosges, tout court! We first came across them as my daughter’s French Exchange had a holiday home in the hills above Saint-Dié, then a couple of years ago we took a flat in one of the villages for a week (and went, on your recommendation, to the marché in Gérardmer!).

        • I’m so glad you’ve had a chance to explore the region, Annabel! It’s an underrated one, but we love it very much.

  • Cakenine

    Perfect timing! We are just beginning our plans to travel to Alsace (and Strasbourg and Colmar) next summer and I’ve been researching Flammekuche. I’ll have to try this recipe out as a baseline. I’d love to know the name of your favorite restaurant in Colmar so we can dine there!

  • I love love love tarte flambée! I remember when I went to France in high school, we stayed with families near Colmar. One night for dinner my host family took me out to a traditional Alsatian restaurant and we had tarte flambée for dinner. The servers would just bring another one out as soon as we were finished with one. I remember loving the flavors so much! Trader Joe’s sells a version of tarte flambée called Tarte d’Alsace in the frozen aisle that’s pretty good in a pinch, but I’m so excited to try making my own!

    • All-you-can-eat tartes flambées? Heaven! :)

      • Not sure if it was really all-you-can eat or if my host family just kept ordering more!

        Any idea if this could be made with pizza dough that can be bought in the grocery store? Maybe just roll it out really thin and save the rest for another use?

        • This is an unleavened dough so pizza dough would not be the same, but of course you’re free to do it if you like. :) I want to stress how SUPER EASY the dough is, though. You can make it in much less time that it takes to buy the pizza dough at the grocery store. :D

  • Not only do I absolutely adore Colmar (a picture book town!) but I also love flammküeche…. and I actually feel like pulling one out of my freezer (yeah, I store some for all my surprise visitors!!!). BUT now I see how terribly easy it is to make my own – I only will have to replace the flour. I just threw out an open pack because I didn’t want to invite any possible co-habitants to my kitchen foods. Thank you chère Clotilde.

    I also love the EDIBLE FRENCH and CHOCOLAT & ZUCCHINI which I read in between other stuff as little non-fattening desserts :)

    • Do let me know if you give it a try! I was so happily surprised to discover how easy it is to make them.

  • Kara Johnson

    LOVE flammekueche… I always go to Flam’s restaurant chain when I’m in Paris so I can satisfy my flammekueche craving. Can’t wait to try this recipe! I’ve tried others in the past, but unfortunately they never turn out quite right.

    • I’ve never actually been to a Flam’s restaurant! Always dismissed it as a chain, but perhaps my snobbery is unjustified?

  • dead_elvis, inc.

    I can’t wait to try this – it’s similar to, but looks a bit tastier than, the recipe I’ve been working from since I first heard about flammekueche: http://www.nprberlin.de/post/recipe-flammkuchen-pizzas-french-german-cousin#stream/0
    Onions + bacon = savory deliciousness, always!

  • Niv

    learned to love alsatian pizza while living in the french alps in my 20s…. prefer with fromage blanc. i dream of that pizza. so rich

  • jroberts920

    For Americans, Trader Joe’s sells this under the Maitre Pierre label as “Tarte d’Alsace.” It uses ham, caramelized onions and Gruyere. It’s my all-time favorite find at TJ’s. I can’t tell whether it uses creme freche on the crust, but there is a mild flavoring under the toppings. TJ’s also has a Tarte a l’Oignon (Alsatian-style onion tart), but the Tarte d’Alsace rules them all.

    • Ha! Who would have thought TJ’s would sell it? I never knew when I lived in California.

  • Shivangni

    Looks super easy and I’m sure my girls will love it too. I’m going to try it in a couple of days. Can I substitute creme fresh with cream cheese (hung yogurt)?

    • You can use cream cheese if you prefer, but I recommend you thin it with a touch of water or milk to get the same consistency as crème fraîche. Please report back!

  • Lincoln Betteridge

    I am always looking for typical, local recipe and this one hits the spot.

    Obviously “flamme” in German means “flame”, and of course the region you mention is on the border with Germany, so I guess it makes some sense. Perhaps in the past they used to bake these in a wood fired ovens?

    I ask as I have a wood fired oven and might try baking it in there.

    I can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

    Lincoln from LincsFlavours

    • Yes! Flammekueche is in the Alsatian dialect, which resembles German in many ways. The French translation “tarte flambée” is in fact a twisted version of the original “tarte flammée”.

      As noted in the post, the traditional flammekueche served in restaurants is indeed baked in a wood-fire oven, so bonus points for you if you have one! :)

      • Lincoln Betteridge

        Perfect and many thanks for your response. My fault, I must have missed your comments on how it was traditionally baked!

        Thanks again,

        • My pleasure! Have you had a chance to try it?

          • Lincoln Betteridge

            No, but I will as it does sound excellent. I am travelling for the next few weeks, but I will give it a try when I am back and I will come onto here and let you know how it went!

          • Lincoln Betteridge

            Made it today, in fact I have just finished eating it!

            It really was delicious and I will be saving the recipe for another day.

            As I live in a village with limited shopping, I ended up using cream cheese with a little milk added to water it down.

            If any readers are interested, I did make it in a wood-fired stone oven. I burnt a mixture of cherry and walnut wood in the centre of the oven for about an hour and a half, not putting in any new wood for the last 15 minutes or so.

            I then pushed the ashes to the edges of the oven and closed the flue. I left it that way for about 10 minutes so that the temperature could build up.

            I placed the metal tray with the pizza on it right where the fire had been, so as to ensure a nice crips bottom.

            The oven was very hot, in about 5 minutes it was ready to eat!

            Not a very scientific description, but it might help someone!

            Thanks again for sharing.

          • Thanks so much for the report, Lincoln, so interesting to read!

  • Camilla Jul Gregersen

    Have you tried letting the onions rest in the creme fraiche beforehand? If I have time I usually mix the sliced onions in an hour or more beforehand. It makes the onions and creme fraiche even more delicious! :)

  • Bismeen Jameer

    hai nice pizza yaar…we have a catering company in india kerala .please see our blog in blog url

    https://ahlancateringandeventmanagement.wordpress.com…thank you.

  • Payal

    Hi, nice pizza. I’am not yet eat pizza, but now i’am feeling eat this yaar.

  • Wouter

    Strangely enough Flammküche are all the rage in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Silly versions too course, with kebab and/or peaches for instance.

    It is, however, not really pronounced “flemküsh” – the ‘ch’ at the end is supposed to sound like a harsh Germanic ‘ch’. Most of the Alsatians manage, but for most French it is undoable.

  • Annabel Smyth

    Have just made and eaten this! Delicious! Thank you for the recipe; it is definitely going into the rotation!

    • So pleased to hear it, Annabel! How big is your rotation of recipes, would you say?

      • Annabel Smyth

        It depends on where we are and what I’m doing – I’ve just made a version of macaroni cheese that I haven’t made for ages, but it was going to be quicker than the version I normally make these days! But it’s not so easy to make that when we’re in the motor home, as it has no oven (okay, I can, and have, put a gratiné under the grill, but it’s not the same), and I tend to make a lot more easy things (including your spinach and coconut curry) when we’re there.

        • Cooking under constraint is such a good way to hone your skills and jog your creativity!

          • Annabel Smyth

            And how to work round things. I don’t bake very often, and can happily live without an oven, but there is very little space in the motor home…. you learn to have a plastic bag or vegetable wrapper to collect peelings, for instance….

          • Necessity, invention, etc.!

  • Louise Edsall

    I’m loving your fall comfort food suggestions like this one. I am with my dad as my mom just passed away. Comfort is what we need. thank you Clotilde

    • You and your father have my most sincere sympathy, Louise. I wish you courage and small comforts through these sad times.

  • Barrheadlass

    I’ve made this too after enjoying it in Strasbourg. Recipe I used had puff pastry as the base. So easy and so delicious.

    • Oooh, you’re venturing into uncharted territory with the puff pastry! Not sure Alsatian grandmothers would approve. :D

  • Prachi Gupta

    Hi
    I’ve made literally 100’s of your recipes and thank you, they are always easy to follow and successful in my kitchen
    Ashi Verma
    https://www.bogatchi.com/

  • Abi

    This is so delicious, thank you so much for sharing! It’s now a firm favourite in our house, and we enjoy it with smoked salmon instead of lardons and a Picon Biere on the side.

  • Culinaire coach

    Spotted this sign when on holiday in the Vosges last week. Who says the French always need many words? :-) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3e4690f346c0246aeff047994c19d9c3e74556ce3eaca9aeec8d0836f6498278.jpg

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