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Friday, October 11, 2013

Enjoy a Slice of Germany - Flammkuchen!

Just one slice....well, maybe two...and another beer...

In Germany, Flammkuchen, or Flame Cake decorates nearly every restaurant menu.  When you’re at a fest, look for the long lines. But, among the hungry multitudes, you’ll need a plan.

Plan A:  Pick out a fest, any fest.  Elbow your way to the beer stand and while you slug down your first liter of malt and hops, waddle over to the stone ovens billowing out clouds of flavor.   Hey, it’s autumn, it’s fest time, it’s Flammkuchen time! Too many hungry swine ahead of you?

Plan B:  Grab another liter, link arms and join in a drinking song, and wait.

Can’t find a fest?  Go get your eyes checked!  But, don't’ despair.  Whether you call it Flammkuchen or as the French say, Tarte Flambé, you can be a culinary hero and amaze your lazy friends in your very own kitchen.  

Tarte is a good name for this dish.  Simple.  Hot.  Delicious!  Easier to make than any girl you dated in high school.  The perfect appetizer before, during, or after a football game, or as part of an inebriation ceremony.

Get started before the crowd in your kitchen gets restless and starts pawing through your liquor cabinet.

The crust is severely thin and crisp, almost like a cracker, but the savory taste is all there.  No, it’s not just a thin crust pizza.

Here’s how you do it…this rendition serves 3 men who don’t give a damn, or 14 ladies who are trying to persuade each other they really don’t eat that much.

First preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC), then make the crust:

1 1/2 Cups flour
1 Teaspoon salt
A sprinkle of pepper
A sprinkle of nutmeg
1/3 Cup water
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Pour in the oil and water and stir with a fork.  Knead by hand until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers.  Provided you’ve used enough flour, this takes no time at all. If it’s still sticky, add a little more flour.

About the size of a man's fist.

Dust your counter well with flour.  Roll the dough out as thin as possible.  I’m talking Wheat Thins® Cracker thin. 

I'm talkin' thin!

Prepare the topping.

3/4 Cup crème frâiche (with herbs is best) If you can’t get crème frâiche, try sour cream, mixed with little bit of heavy cream.

I used traditional toppings, but any topping in any amount will do.  For those who are anal-retentive, or control freaks, I offer these measurements:

3 heaping Tablespoons chopped onions
3 heaping Tablespoons lean, diced bacon
3 heaping Tablespoons chopped pepperoni (the little green, pickled peppers, not the sausage)

Put the bacon and chopped onions in a frying pan and gently sauté until the onions are limp and the bacon nearly crisp.

Place the thinly rolled dough on a baking sheet, spread moderately with crème frâiche, then sprinkle on the toppings.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the edges are getting a tiny bit charred and the crème frâiche is bubbling….after all, this is Flame Cake!

Raw, naked, and ready for the oven.

There’s also a sweet version. Instead of the savory toppings, just sprinkle sugar over the crème frâiche and add your favorite dessert toppings.

Oh yeah!  You be da cook o da hour! 

Ladies, kiss the cook!  Guys, grab him another liter of beer!

For the neighbors who followed the aroma, get the dog to chase them out of the yard, unless of course they brought more beer.

Out of the oven!  Smell that aroma!

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