In Germany and Alsace October means that the Flammkuchen season has set in. Who don’t know what a heck it is I’d like to give some explanation. So Flammkuchen is an Alsatian dish composed of bread dough rolled out very thin in the shape of a rectangle (traditionally) or circle, which is covered with crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and lardons. It is one of the most famous gastronomical specialties of the region. Depending on the places, this dish can be called flammekueche, (in German Flammkuchen), which means “Flame cake” or in French tarte flambée, which translates as “Pie baked in the flames.” Contrary to what the direct translation would suggest tarte flambée is not flambéed, but cooked in a wood-fire oven. In France there are many variations of the original recipe, in terms of the garniture. The standard variations are:
- Gratinée : with added gruyère cheese;
- Forestière : with added mushrooms;
- Munster : with added munster cheese;
- Sweet : dessert version with apples, cinammon, and flambéed with Calvados or another sweet liqueur.
About the German origin legend says that the “creators” of this dish were Alemannic-speaking farmers from Alsace, Baden-Baden or the Palatinate who used to bake bread once a week or every other week. In fact, the tarte flambée was originally a homemade dish which did not make its urban debut until the “pizza craze” of the 1960s. A tarte flambée would be used to test the heat of their wood-fired ovens. At the peak of its temperature, the oven would also have the ideal conditions in which to bake a tarte flambée. The embers would be pushed aside to make room for the tarte in the middle of the oven, and the intense heat would be able to bake it in 1 or 2 minutes. The crust that forms the border of the tarte flambée would be nearly burned by the flames. The result resembles a thin pizza.