Try telling an Alsatian that a tarte flambée is “like a pizza”. Go on. I dare you. You’ll politely – yet pointedly- be set straight. This deliciously uncomplicated bacon and onion tart is a signature dish of Alsace – an agriculturally rich Franco-German region of France bordering Germany and Switzerland. In The Art of French Pastry , Alsatian Chef and author Jacquy Pfeiffer credits local farmers for creating the tart. Pfeiffer writes that farmers baked bread weekly and “the ovens would stay very hot for a long time after the bread was done, so [they] would roll out bits of leftover dough into thin rounds, spread thick cream over them, and bake them quickly in the hot ovens.”
Conventional ovens are no match for the blistering 700F heat of a tarte flambée oven. We account for that difference by preheating the bejesus (that’s a technical term) out of the oven and a pizza stone. Chef Jacquy’s tarte flambée recipe calls for an hour long preheat. Don’t stress if you do not have a pizza stone. Use a cookie sheet. Simply turn the tray upside down (if it’s rimmed) and place it in the oven to preheat.
This recipe also calls for crème fraiche, a high fat content cream soured by a bacterial culture. This thick, rich and subtly tangy cream is not handily available at most grocery stores. Fortunately, it is easy to make and worth the minimal effort. The recipe belongs to Julia Child and I have seen it used in some of my favorite cookbooks. If it ain’t broke, right? I make a double batch and use the extra cream in place of cream cheese, sour cream and even whipped cream.
This tarte flambée recipe is from The Art of French Pastry with two changes. The most notable change is replacing the traditional flour crust with a cauliflower crust. Since the cauliflower crust is gluten free, I substituted the all-purpose flour in the topping with tapioca flour to make the entire dish sans gluten. You could easily swap the bacon for mushrooms for a vegetarian option. Beyond that you’ll have to take it up with the Alsatians.