Flammkuchen – Quick & Easy Rustic German Fare!

Not sure why on my 46 years on this planet have I never made, let alone ate Flammkuchen until today!! There was a bar which specialized in them and speciality beers in Den Bosch but sadly closed down with Covid. If you are a fan of thin crust pizza (which I am) this is a must try. I was inspired when I saw Hugo Kennis making a “Duits hapjes platter on the 5 Uur Live show – recipes are here. In the same episode, he also made curryworst but I’ll totally pass on that but I know the kids would love it.

My plan was to make two types of Flammkuchen. Salmon & Leeks and Spek & Red Onion and both were so good! After the first two, the kids were still hungry so I used the 3rd & 4th sheet – one for a combo of the aforementioned as I still had leftovers. And then for a treat, I made one with apples and cinnamon. Clearly a success as there was not a single piece left!! I look forward to being creative and making new combinations in the the future.

A Flam What?

Flammkuchen pronounced flam-KOOK-en) also known by its French name “Tarte Flambée” comes from South Germany and the Alsace region of France (along the southwestern French-German border).  According to the wikipedia entry, it was made as a way to test the heat of the oven the farmers used to make bread. Then they added some ingredients as topping, and voila – a whole new kind of “pizza” was created.

What is the difference between Flammkuchen and Pizza?

Unlike traditional pizza, Flammkuchen or Tarte Flambée does not have an underlying layer of tomato sauce under cheese (normally mozzarella) and toppings. While you can use any toppings that you like for you flammkuchen, the most traditional combination includes bacon and caramelized onions. And instead of cheese, Flammkuchen uses crème fraîche or cottage cheese (fromage blanc or weißer Käse) seasoned with a sprinkle of nutmeg and black pepper. Your options are endless – just google Flammkuchen or Tarte Flambee recipes and you’ll see soooo many options. Here is one in English from The Guardian. I’ve seen some which look so good including this Green Asparagus, Feta & Red Onion from Jumbo’s recipe guide in Dutch – that is one that I’d make next for sure!

Dough – make or buy?

Like with pizza, you can buy or make our own dough. For me, I never make my own. But this dough is quite simple – a mixture of flour, salt, water, and oil that mixes together well and kneads nice and smooth. But I figure why bother, when you can get a four pack of pre-rolled out, perfectly formed rectangle sheets at Sligo for less than €2. I need to mention that Sligro is my second favorite shop in the Netherlands. And maybe from past posts, you probably know that Amazing Oriental is first. Maybe one day I’ll do a blog post on those two shops. I already did one on Intratuin – being more than your average garden center – it’s another great shop – even for non-green thumbs like myself. Anyway back to the dough and the main difference from your typical pizza is that there is no yeast or other leavening agent. It’s just a pretty simple dough. So it doesn’t rise – just try and get it as thin as you can. Or be like me and buy the base.

Tips when making.

1.) Less is really is more in this dish. Like when you make a pizza, if you add too many toppings, it won’t crisp up and you end up with a soggy base – yuck! So, same concept -keep the toppings light! You are better off with a few an one big mushy one.

2.) If you are using spek (bacon pieces) do first pan from they so they are crispy. If using onions, I recommend you pan fry them too – or alternatively let them soak in water for a bit before putting on, otherwise, they can burn too quickly as your oven is really hot!

3.) If you are in the US or a place you cannot find creme fraiche, you can mix of sour cream and Greek yogurt.

4.) It can be tricky to slide the Flammkuchen onto a baking tray, so just make it already on the baking tray – but be sure you put down parchment paper – so they don’t stick!

So that was my experience with Flammkuchen. One day I’ll finally get to Italy and enjoy their pizza. For now I’ll fondly remember the escargot pizza in Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, France which sounds awful to some but really SO GOOOOOD! Of course, I know Italian and Turkish pizza – what’s next to try? Polish Pizza?

Have a suggestion other than better quality food photos 🙂 – do let me know!

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