For a time I have let the San Marazano tomatoes remain in the cupboard. Their bright acidic tang blended with the soft heat of garlic and the subtle touch of dried oregano has served our pizza night’s well, but now I turn to creme fraiche.
It began with a nudge from a friend who encouraged me to make Tarte Flambee for our Alsatian themed dinner party. Having never heard of this dish before I had visions of me bringing a large dish of sorts to the table filled with dinner guests who eagerly looked to me as I set the food aflame.
Pleased to find out that I would not be creating any sort of fire hazard I quickly realized, with the help of Google, that Tarte Flambée is simply a thin crusted pizza with fromage blanc or creme fraiche as the base. Crispy bacon and onions are scattered on top as well as a light dusting of freshly ground nutmeg. Which to me is the reason why this pizza is uncommonly good.
Since that night I have made this pizza numerous times. So often in fact, my husband is probably ready for the return of a simply tomato sauced and mozzerella topped pizza. Not yet, dear.
I assure you there will be no longings for cheese as you bite into this rich pizza. The creme fraiche melts into the crust and intensifies leaving an impossibly creamy base for the sweet and smokey layer of bacon and onions.
I implore you to use freshly grated nutmeg. There is no replacement. Although, don’t go running to the fancy kitchen shop to get a nutmeg house/grater. I simply use one of my favorite kitchen tools, the microplane. (I also use this for garlic, Parmesean, citrus zests, ginger, and even grating fresh fruit and vegetables to use for baby food).
While there will not be any showy flames emanating from this dish there will be plenty of very pleased diners.
continue for the recipes…
makes enough for 3 or 4 pizzas
4 cups all purpose flour (1 lb 4 oz.)
1 T salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 cups water, room temperature
Additional flour, for dusting.
Combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 2 cups of room temperature water, then mix on low speed using dough hook until dough binds, about 1 minute, adding more water as necessary. Let rest for 5 minutes. Knead on second-lowest setting for 5 to 7 minutes, until dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a smooth ball.
Turn out onto a floured surface, knead and form into a ball, then let rest in a bowl for 3 to 4 hours.
By this point the dough should have doubled in size. Punch down and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge overnight. It is possible to use this dough the same day with great results although the long rest in the fridge improves the texture and becomes much easier to stretch, so we do highly recommend it.
Take it out of the fridge two hours before you want to eat dinner and let rest on counter. After approximately 90 minutes, turn out the dough onto a floured surface and cut into 4 8-ounce pieces. Fold and knead each three or four times until it forms a smooth ball. Let rest/rise for 30 minutes.
Working with one ball at a time, using your hands, slowly stretch the dough to your desired size leaving a bit of a crust around the outer edge. If the dough becomes tight and hard to work with, let it rest for a few minutes while you move on to the next ball of dough. Sometimes the dough just needs a moment to relax (don’t we all).
photo by Gabe Rodriguez
makes plenty for 1 12” pizza
½ cup creme fraiche (try making your own!)
salt and pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 small garlic clove, minced
4 slices bacon, cut into ¼” strips
½ medium onion, julienned
1 tbl fresh chopped chives
Combine the creme fraiche with salt, pepper, nutmeg and garlic. In a skillet over medium heat cook the bacon until crisp. Add the onions and cook until gently caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Preheat your oven for at least 45 minutes with pizza stone inside, to 485 – 550 degrees.
Create 12” round using your dough. Place on semolina dusted pizza peel. Spread with creme fraiche mixture and top with bacon and caramelized onion. Slide onto pizza stone and bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with a nice finishing salt over top, such as Maldon or Fleur de Sel.
Garnish with fresh chives then slice and serve immediately.
One last thing. Today (or maybe it’s tomorrow) is the last day to vote in the Saveur awards!