How to make the perfect flammekueche – recipe | Felicity Cloake's Perfect (2024)

Flammekueche (flammeküeche, flammeküche, flammenkueche and flammenküche are also permitted by France’s Le Robert dictionaries) is a traditional speciality of the Franco-German borderlands, Alsace-Lorraine on one side, Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate on the other. It’s also known, especially outside the region, as tarte à la flamme or tarte flambée, though no alcohol is involved in its production – as the name suggests, it’s a tart, albeit one that’s cooked quickly in a hot oven much like a pizza, then topped with distinctly un-Italian combination of salt pork and soured cream.

It is, however, often enjoyed with alcohol, and pairs particularly well with a chilled glass of crisp riesling or pinot blanc – preferably local, sitting at a cafe in a half-timbered square festooned with geraniums, happily watching the world go by.

The base

Flammekueche recipes seem to fall into two camps: those that use bread dough and those that opt for an unleavened pastry. The latter is, in my experience, more common these days – despite being a committed consumer of the stuff, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a bread-based example on either side of the border.

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Since that other regional speciality, the quiche lorraine, was also once made from leftover bread dough, it seems likely to me that this is the older variation, a theory backed up by its inclusion in a 1981 collection of recipes from a French television series exploring the nation’s culinary traditions, Les Recettes de Mon Village. A Monsieur Kohln, from Erstein in the Bas-Rhin, calls simply for “bread dough”, as does the late Paul Bocuse, widely considered to be one of the most important French chefs of the last century – though he hailed from farther south-west. Both versions are delicious in the same way that a pizza is, but with such rich toppings, the whole thing is unapologetically hefty. Great as a main dish, as the gloss in the tie-in recipe book to the French television programme suggests, but a bit much as a snack with drinks, which is how I’m used to consuming flammekueche.

Another celebrated and much-mourned chef, Michel Roux, suggests using puff pastry in his book The Essence of French Cooking, while Gabriel Kreuther, a native of Niederschaeffolsheim now picking up Michelin stars in New York, makes a kind of flatbread, raised with baking powder and enriched with egg yolks. Puff pastry, to my mind – though a temptingly easy option if you buy it ready-made – turns this into just another tart. And the yolks make Kreuther’s base too soft and flaky for the job. The base that comes closest to those I’ve enjoyed in Alsace comes from the association of local winemakers and uses plain flour and a little oil, but no raising agent, giving it a winningly crisp texture that makes it the perfect foil for the rich dairy and pork on top.

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If you live in France, of course, you’ll probably be able to buy excellent dough at your local supermarket. No judgment here; it’s not as if it’s the only ingredient we’re missing out on on this side of the Channel. Whatever you use, bear in mind that this is a dish traditionally baked in a bread oven, so, as with pizzas, you’ll need to crank up your home machine. I’d also recommend heating the baking tray, too, to help the middle of the base cook through before the edges burn to a cinder in the furnace.


If this were a pizza, it would be a pizza bianca, with dairy replacing the familiar tomato sauce. Roux uses double cream mixed with a little lemon juice, presumably to simulate the tangy richness of creme fraiche, but if the latter, which is thicker and more interesting, is available, I’d choose that instead. Vins d’Alsace, the official site of the wine-growing area, mixes the cream with fromage blanc, a milky young cheese with a gentle acidity that’s all but impossible to find in this country. After many experiments, I’ve settled on drained whole Greek yoghurt as a decent, if imperfect substitute, or you could try Kreuther’s cream cheese, but really, if creme fraiche alone is good enough for Monsieur Kohln, it’s good enough for me.

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Interestingly, Strasbourg textile designer and blogger Frédérique Froidevaux advises those watching their figure to use a mixture of half creme fraiche and half fromage blanc for a lighter result, explaining that, in the past, the cheaper fromage blanc was used alone. If you don’t add much, however – and I don’t think you need much – there’s no need to dilute it. I would mix it with some of the other toppings before spreading it, though; it makes it go further and stops the onions from drying out.

The toppings

There’s very little variation here: onions and cured pork are the order of the day. Cut the former as thinly as possible and, to keep them nice and sweet, soften them in butter first, as both Monsieur Kohln and Vins d’Alsace suggest. I’d do the same for the pork, too, though it’s less important – fry it before the onions, so they can benefit from any rendered fat.

That pork doesn’t have to be smoked, but for reasons of flavour, I’d strongly urge you to make sure it is; the same goes for finding a cut with a decent amount of fat. That means streaky, rather than back – and go for lardons or slab bacon, if either is available; the wafer-thin, cruelly trimmed slices favoured by British supermarkets these days will burn to a crisp in the oven.

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Rick Stein adds grated cheese (emmental or gruyère) in his latest book, Secret France, which makes his, strictly speaking, a flammekueche gratinée, while Froidevaux informs me that fresh mushrooms would make it a flammekueche forestière (perhaps a good option for those who don’t eat pork); a sweet spin can be made with stewed apple and sliced fruit. In fact, I’m sure you could put almost anything on there but, as with pizzas, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should.


Roux adds thyme to his tart, a flavour that works well with the other ingredients, but the warmth of nutmeg favoured by Kohln, Kreuther and Vins d’Alsace is even better. Most recipes are finished with a drizzle of oil but, for once, I don’t think it needs any extra fat. That said, to each their own.

Perfect flammekueche

Prep 10 min
Rest 1 hr
Cook 35 min
Serves 4

250g flour, preferably strong white bread
½ tsp salt, plus extra for seasoning
150ml water
50ml neutral oil
1 tbsp butter
100g smoked streaky bacon or pancetta
, preferably in one piece, or chunky lardons
1 large onion
75g creme fraiche
1 good grating

Start by making the base. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. In a jug, whisk the water and oil, then stir into the flour bowl and mix until you have a smooth dough. Continue mixing until it feels elastic, then cover and leave to rest for an hour.

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Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the onion (if you have one, a mandoline would be helpful here) and, if necessary, cut the bacon into chunky pieces.

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Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, fry the bacon until the fat begins to render, then scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside, keeping as much fat in the pan as possible. Turn down the heat and fry the onions with a pinch of salt until soft and golden, but not browned.

Heat the oven, and a lightly greased baking tray, to 250C (conventional and fan)/gas 9, or as hot as it will go. Mix the creme fraiche into the onions and season generously with nutmeg.

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On a lightly floured surface, roll or stretch out the dough into a rectangle or circle as close to 1mm thick as you can get it. Take the hot baking tray out of the oven, carefully transfer the base to it, then spread the onion mixture over the surface.

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Scatter the lardons all over the top, then bake for about 12 minutes, until the edges are crisp and well browned (the timings will depend on how hot your oven gets, so keep a beady eye on it). Cut into squares and serve immediately.

How to make the perfect flammekueche – recipe | Felicity Cloake's Perfect (2024)


What is the difference between flammkuchen and pizza? ›

Unlike pizza, Flammkuchen, Tarte Flambée etc. don't have an underlying layer of tomato sauce under the cheese and toppings. Cheese, onions / leeks and sometimes lardon pieces are directly put on the rectangular base, before baking in a hot oven (usually wood-fired).

What is flammkuchen in english? ›

Flammkuchen, which means 'flame cake' in German, is the perfect example of a dish that is much greater than the sum of its parts. Crème fraîche, sliced onion, bacon and a crispy base come together to create this delicious pizza-flatbread hybrid.

What is the origin of Flammekueche? ›

History. The dish was created by German farmers from Alsace, Baden and the Palatinate who used to bake bread once a week. The Flammekueche was originally a homemade dish which did not make its urban restaurant debut until the "pizza craze" of the 1960s.

What is Flam food? ›

The short answer is that it is the Alsatian/ German version of pizza. Translated it flammekueche means, 'flame cake'. Originally this was a hearty farmer's meal. It didn't make its way to the major cities until the 1960s. Made in either rectangular or oval shapes, the pastry crust is thin.

Is flammkuchen healthier than pizza? ›

I have something for you: flammkuchen with fresh figs, rosemary, thyme and goat cheese. Deliciously fresh, full of herbs and vitamines and a healthy alternative to a high-calorie pizza.

What is flammkuchen made of? ›

Flammkuchen is a crispy flatbread topped with creme fraiche, bacon (Speck or lardons depending on the region), and onions that comes from the Alsace region of France. It was created by German settlers so it's not only popular in France but also in Germany and Austria.

What is pizza called in German? ›

The German word for pizza is Pizza. In German, common as well as proper nouns are capitalized. Pizza is a feminine noun, so ''the pizza'' is translated as die Pizza.

How do Germans say pizza? ›

How to say Pizza in German?
  1. Die Pizza (f) Pizza.
  2. Er aß eine Pizza. He ate a pizza.
  3. Das ist mein Pizzastück. Das ist meins. This is my pizza slice. This is mine.
  4. Ich möchte eine Pizza ohne Käse bestellen. I would like to order a pizza without cheese.

What does Flammkuchen taste like? ›

It's similar to a pizza or flatbread and traditionally topped with bacon, onion, and crème fraiche, although you can easily customize flammkuchen however you like. It's deliciously savory, with a slightly smoky flavor and a beautifully crispy thin crust.

Which country made Flammkuchen? ›

But this delicious food is also directly related to geography! Flammkuchen was first created in towns along the borders of Germany and France, which includes Trier.

When was Flammkuchen invented? ›

(It dates to the 4th century, long before modern borders, writes Helga Rosemann in her 2009 book “Flammkuchen.”) Ideally, it will arrive at your table fresh from a wood-burning oven, as at Mintwood Place in the District, whose high temperature (around 700 degrees!)

What is flammkuchen in French? ›

Is Flammkuchen French or German? Flammkuchen (pronounced flam-KOOK-en) in German, or Flammekueche (pronounced flam-KOOCHE) or tarte flambé in French, comes from the Alsace region of France (just across Germany's the southwestern border with France).

How do you know when flan is done? ›

The flan is ready to be removed from the oven when it has begun to set. Gently shake the pan: the centers of the custard should jiggle slightly. You can also insert the tip of a knife into the custard near the center; if the flan is still liquid, it needs more time in the oven.

Where can I buy tarte flambée? ›

Unearthed Tarte Flambée with Lardons Onion & Crème Fraiche 180g | Sainsbury's.

What is the difference between pizza and tarte flambee? ›

The classic pizza always consists of tomato sauce, herbs and cheese plus ingredients to taste, which can range from simple salami to exclusive truffle. The original Alsatian tarte flambée always consists of sour cream, bacon and onion. There are also numerous variations for the topping of the tarte flambée.

What do they call pizza in Germany? ›

Although some people call it simply “German pizza,” Flammkuchen is a lot more complicated than that!

What does flammkuchen taste like? ›

It's similar to a pizza or flatbread and traditionally topped with bacon, onion, and crème fraiche, although you can easily customize flammkuchen however you like. It's deliciously savory, with a slightly smoky flavor and a beautifully crispy thin crust.


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