For the Crust:
3/4 c. warm water (105° to 115°)
1 1/2 t. active dry yeast
2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 t. Salt
2 T. unsalted butter, softened
Combine the water, yeast, and 1 1/4 cups of the flour in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the butter and salt and beat until the butter is incorporated. Begin stirring in the remaining flour, adding just enough flour to form a soft dough that holds its shape. Sprinkle some of the remaining flour on a smooth surface. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and sprinkle with a bit more flour. Knead the dough, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking, until the dough is smooth and springs back when pressed lightly with a finger—about 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size—about 1 hour.
Note: Originally, Tarte Flambée was a snack made with extra dough in the community bread baking oven while the oven was still too hot to bake bread. Any simple dough will work. Use a half pound of dough per tart.
Building and Baking the Tarte:
6 oz. thick-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2" wide strips
1 medium white onion, very thinly sliced (about 9 to 10 oz.)—see note
1/2 c. cottage cheese
1/2 c. crème fraîche—see note
1 T. vegetable oil
2 t. flour
Salt & Pepper
Preheat oven to 500°F. If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven while the oven is heating.
In a large sauté pan, set over medium low heat, cook the bacon until most of the fat is rendered and the bacon is beginning to color—it does not need to be crisp. Drain off the excess fat and increase the heat to medium. Add the onions and sweat until just wilted—they should still have a bit of crunch. If you removed to much of the bacon fat...or the onions look dry, you may add back some of the bacon fat that you poured off. Remove from the heat and season generously with freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
While the bacon and onions cook, place the cottage cheese in the food processor and process until smooth. Add the crème fraîche, oil & flour and process in. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Punch down the dough and divide it in half and form each half into a ball. Place the balls on a flour dusted counter and cover the balls of dough with a towel and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Working with one ball of dough at a time, stretch or roll the dough out (with lightly floured hands or on a lightly floured surface) to make a thin circle that is about 10-inches across. Transfer the dough to a semolina dusted peel or pizza pan/baking sheet.
Spread half of the crème fraîche mixture over the crust, leaving a half-inch border. Scatter half of the onion and bacon mixture over the cream. If using a pizza pan or baking sheet, place the tart in the pan on a pre-heated pizza stone in a pre-heated 500° oven. To insure a crisp crust, slide the pizza off of the pan and directly onto the pizza stone as soon as the crust is set (after 4 or 5 minutes). If using a peel, slide the pizza directly onto the preheated baking stone.
Bake the tart until the edge of the crust is crisp and brown, the cream is bubbling and golden and some of the tips of the onions are beginning to caramelize, about 8 to 15 minutes (time depends greatly on your oven). Quickly build and bake the second tart while you enjoy the first. If you happen to have two stones, build and bake both the tarts at the same time. Makes 2 tarts, serving 8 as a first course or 4 as an entrée.
- I have no recollection now of where I heard this, but I remember being told once that the white onion—which is sweeter than a yellow onion—is the best choice for this tart. Since it makes a delicious tart, I have never been inclined to make it with anything else.
- Sold at most supermarkets. If unavailable, heat 1 cup whipping cream to lukewarm (85° F). Remove from heat and mix in 2 T. buttermilk. Cover and let stand in warm, draft-free area until slightly thickened, 24 to 48 hours, depending on temperature of room. Refrigerate until ready to use.
(Topping adapted from Andre Soltner)