Monday, September 21, 2015

Jeffrey Hamelman: Tarte flambée (Grain Gathering 2015)

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Jeff borrowed the formula for tarte flambée from his own best-seller Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes. Funnily (to my French ears) he refers to the pie (also known as Flammekueche) as a traditional pizza from the Alsace region of France. I had never thought of tarte flambée as a pizza. Tarte flambée carries no Mediterranean overtones, there is not a tomato in sight, no oregano, no mozzarella. It is as un-Italian as could be. Yet, come to think of it, Jeffrey is right. It does belong in the same family as pizza: the toppings may be different but the doughs are indeed identical. Tarte flambée is a typical avant-cuisson (pre-baking) flatbread: wood-fired-oven bakers used it prior to baking bread to make sure their ovens were hot enough.

Ingredients: (for 4 pies)
  1. Mix all ingredients to moderate gluten development (desired dough temperature: 75-78°F)
  2. Bulk ferment for one hour, then divide the dough into 450 g pieces
  3. Round the dough pieces tightly, place into floured tubs
  4. Cover well and refrigerate 1 to 2 days
  5. Stretch the dough, top as desired, and bake in wood-fired oven with a live fire.
Jeffrey credits Jacquy Pfeiffer of the French Pastry School for generously sharing his topping recipe. 

Ingredients: (for 4 pies)
  • 450 g crème fraîche
  • 35 g egg yolk
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 500 g bacon, cut into pieces about 1" square or lardon-shape
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Nutmeg, grated, to taste

  1. Whisk the crème fraîche, yolks, flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg together
  2. Stretch the pizza dough
  3. Spread the topping on the dough, about 1/8" thick, leaving a 1/2" rim around the edge
  4. Spread onions and bacon on top (be generous but don't overlap)
  5. Bake in wood-fired oven with a live fire, at least 700°F
Note: If your wood-fired oven isn't hot enough or if you are baking in a home oven, make sure to pre-cook the bacon and lightly sauté the onions.
  • You can make the tarte flambée either round or square. Either way make sure to size it to the size of your peel
  • Stretch and fold the dough between your hands, pulling at the rim a bit so that the rim isn't too thick
  • Using dough straight out of the fridge makes it less likely that it will tear
  • You can use cornmeal on the peel but Jeff prefers using semolina because cornmeal burns (high fat content)
  • You can make your own crème fraîche (by putting 75% heavy cream and 25% buttermilk or sour cream in a warm place for up to 24 hours)
  • At home, pre-cook onion and bacon and bake the pie at 500°F on a pizza stone for about 5 minutes then finish it quickly under the broiler.

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