Where has summer gone? After another week of grey days, rain and wind, I’ve been looking sadly at the weather in Cyprus, where they are having sun every day and temperatures in the low thirties! It looks lovely, but I shouldn’t complain really, I’ve been inside at work all week so I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it anyway. Still, a little of that glorious sunshine would be nice!
When I’m busy at work, I am always looking for recipes that I can either prepare partially in the morning or that are quick and easy to prepare when I get home. One of the great things about pizza, or pizza-like things, is that you can very quickly knock the dough together, then leave it to rise in the fridge during the day. Before you have even put your bag down when you come home, go into the kitchen, heat the oven, take the dough out of the fridge and by the time you’ve poured a glass of wine and are ready to start cooking, everything is ready for you. Tonight we are having one of my all-time favourite German recipes, easy, delicious, filling and it looks equally impressive when serving to guests as for a weeknight dinner.
Flammkuchen, literally ‘Flame Cake’ is Germany’s answer to pizza. Originating on the border with France at Alsace, Flammkuchen are deliciously thin and crunchy, topped with rich creme fraiche, bacon and onions and are incredibly flavoursome. At the yearly medieval market at Christmas time in Munich, I always make sure to buy one of these hot treats directly from the wood-fire oven as I walk around the crowded market sipping my glühwein. Try to use spelt flour, if available – it adds a subtle, nutty richness.
Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!
for the dough:
- 500 g bread flour or
- 500 g spelt flour
- 7 g sachet yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 250-300 ml warm water
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
for the topping:
- 300 g creme fraiche or
- 300 g sour cream
- 1 large red onion
- 200 g goat cheese
- 250 g bacon, diced
- small bunch fresh thyme
- black pepper
- cornmeal, or fine polenta for dusting the tray
- For the flammkuchen dough, put the flour, yeast, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix together well, before adding 250ml of water and the olive oil.
- Using either a knife or the dough hook attachment of the mixer mix well to combine, adding more water if the dough is too dry. The dough should be sticky to begin with, but not sticking like chewing gum to the sides of the bowl. Knead for 5- 10 minutes, until the dough is soft, supple and elastic. Set aside, covered with a clean cloth for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to the hottest it will go, prepare your ingredients for the topping, stirring the creme fraiche to loosen it a little and peeling and slicing the red onion in thin rings.
- When the dough has risen, turn it out onto the bench top and knock the air out of it, using your fingertips to flatten it. Divide the dough into 4 equal sized portions, return two to the bowl and cover.
- Sprinkle a little cornmeal or fine polenta over a large baking tray and then gently stretch each of your dough pieces out to a long rectangle, each covering nearly half of the tray. The dough should be thin, but not see through.
- Spread a quarter of the creme fraiche over each flammkuchen, leaving a small border around the edge. Scatter over the sliced onions, thin slices of the goats cheese, bacon and the leaves of the fresh thyme. Grind over fresh black pepper and grate over some nutmeg.
- Transfer the tray to the hot oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the dough has browned. Meanwhile, repeat with the other two portions of dough.
- Serve hot, with a crisp green salad and a cool glass of riesling, or in winter with a big mug of glühwein.