• Michael

#0010: Das Dolce Vita

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

Pizza night is one of my favourite nights at the cottage. I like to get a bit messy when I cook, and I enjoy recipes that take a little effort.

This is fast food to take your time over.

Mention pizza and your mind immediately turns to Italy. To vaporetti. To fig groves. To gelato. But around the same time that pizza was first being baked in Italy, it was also being made further north in France, in Germany and even in Scandinavia.

Originating in Alsace, this is my favourite pizza variation. The French refer to it as tarte flambé, but being a bit of a Teutophile, I know it as flammkuchen.

If you’re not familiar with it, flammkuchen has a much thinner base than your regular pizza, and it traditionally eschews tomato sauce in favour of creme fraiche, making for a really satisfying meal after a long day out on the trail.

My version has evolved over the years, switching out ingredients to suit my taste, building in my love of sourdough, and making it a little bit healthier. It probably can’t be considered a true flammkuchen anymore, but it ticks all the right boxes for me, and I hope it does the trick for you too.

Start by mixing 80g of strong white bread flour, 70g of your sourdough starter (take a look here for more on sourdough) and 50g of 35°C water. Cover it with a tea towel and leave it in a warm spot for about four hours.

When it’s ready, mix 70g of the refreshed starter with 75g of strong white bread flour, 2g of salt, 5g of olive oil and 50g of 35°C water. The mixture will be very sticky, so flour your hands well, then knead it thoroughly, to make sure all the ingredients are mixed evenly.

Flour your hands again and turn the dough out onto a clean, flat, well floured surface and stretch or roll it out as thin as you dare. Sprinkle a tray with semolina to prevent sticking, and transfer your flammkuchen base onto it. Cover with your tea towel and leave it to prove for another thirty minutes or so.

You'll have some refreshed starter left over, so add this back to your sourdough starter to freshen it up.

Whilst your base is proving, let’s get on with the topping. Start by trimming the fat from four rashers of smoked bacon and slicing them fairly roughly. Dice a decent sized red onion and gently fry it with the bacon and a some finely chopped herbs. I grow sage and oregano in the garden, and I think they complement the bacon and onions well, but go ahead and experiment to see what works for you.

Once the onions are soft and your dough is proved, evenly spread a thin layer of room temperature skyr over the base. Sprinkle the bacon and onions over the top, give it a good grind of pepper, and transfer it to a baking tray or stone in a pre-heated oven at about 250°C for about ten minutes.

When its done, serve immediately, with a green salad and a cold Alsace beer.

As they say in the true language of love, köstlich.

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