How To Make The One Pizza You Haven’t Tried
In New Jersey, where pizza might as well be a religion, the traditional Italian street food is barely what its name entails without a blanket of tomato sauce, a smattering of gooey cheese, and maybe a sprinkling of oregano, garlic or pepperoni.
However, in Alsace, a region in northeast France whose history is heavily influenced by Germany on its eastern border, flammkuchen – a pizza-like dish – is far off from its Italian brethren, but with its own cultlike following, local ingredients and heavenly taste.
Flammkuchen starts with a dough similar to Italian pizza that is topped with crème fraiche, sauteed onions and bacon (or speck), perhaps with fresh dill as a garnish. It is quickly cooked at a high temperature, traditionally in a woodfired oven.
Read more: Here’s How To Make Our Delectable Cheese Fondue
We recommend pairing flammkuchen with our Pinot Gris and Riesling, but a gentle red or rose pair well also.
With a slightly sour, creamy base for the salty, fatty meat alongside hints of bright, pungent dill, flammkuchen has made its way from an ancient meal served primarily at home to a mainstay at restaurants and taverns throughout the Alsace region, which has been recognized as a culinary epicenter of the world.
Here, foods ranging from rustic to refined feature northern European ingredients, such as cabbage, pork, potatoes, beets, fruits, sauerkraut, and seasonings such as dill and mustard.
But when it comes to pizza-like fare, it’s just one example – yet a tasty one – of the beloved culinary tradition of bread baked with some sort of topping reflective of its home.
How to make Flammekuchen
Makes four – dinner for eight
- 1½ C. Water, 110oF
- 1½ t. Freeze-dried baker’s yeast
- 3 C. Flour (all white, or some combination with whole wheat)
- 2 t. Salt
- 1 T. Oil, such as olive or vegetable
- Cornmeal, medium grind
- 1 C. Sour Cream
- 1 C. Greek Yogurt, plain
- 1 lbs. Bacon, “thick cut”, sliced into pieces 1” by ½”.
- 3 Yellow Onions, thinly sliced
- Bunch of Fresh Dill
- Stir yeast into the water, and when it begins to foam combine it with flour and salt. Stir
with a large wooden spoon, and then work it with your hands, kneading it until firm, about
5 minutes. Form a ball and roll it around a bowl with the oil; the purpose is to coat the
dough ball with oil. Set aside, covered, ideally for 2-3 hours.
- While dough is rising, combine the sour cream and Greek yogurt, stirring until completely
blended. Cover and allow it to sit at room temperature. This is a quick and easy way to
make Crème Fraiche, which is essential to this dish (ideally make and refrigerate overnight).
- Gently render the bacon until it is cooked, but not crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan,
leaving the fat behind. Add the sliced onions and cook them, covered, to caramelize them.
When done, remove from heat.
- Preheat oven or grill to 475oF.
- Remove dough ball from bowl and, using a dough knife, cut into four equal quarters. Take
one quarter and, on a floured surface, press it flat into something that approximates a
circle; use a rolling pin, if you wish. Transfer to a baker’s peel (or a small cutting board)
that’s first sprinkled with cornmeal. The dough should be flat.
- Using a spoon, spread ¼ C. to ½ C. crème fraiche on top of the dough (as you’d do with
tomato sauce on an Italian pizza), then sprinkle sauteed onions and bacon pieces on top.
Garnish with fronds of fresh dill. Your Flammkuchen is ready for the fire.
- Transfer to a baking stone in the oven or directly on the grill of a charcoal, wood or gas fire.
This takes practice; use a spatula to loosen the edges before sliding the flammkuchen onto
- This will bake quickly; turn 180o once if you wish, bake a minute or two more, then remove
from the heat. Allow to cool for just a moment, then cut into pieces and serve immediately.
Accompany with a robust white wine in the style of Alsace such as Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc,
Gewürztraminer, or Dry Riesling. A Pinot Noir would be fine, if red wine is preferred.