Tarte flambée or flammeküche is a specialty from the Alsace. It is very similar to a pizza, only no tomato is involved. A tarte flambée consists of a very thin layer of crispy bread dough, covered with cream and onions. Added to this could be cheese, smoky bacon, mushrooms or even smoked salmon. Sweet versions also exist, with apple and calvados.
The tarte flambée is baked at high temperatures, preferably in a bread oven with open flames. This is where it gets its name "flame pie" from: a good tarte flambée should have been 'licked' by the flames and have a nice smokey flavour.
The only source I have found about the history of tarte flambée states that it is of Jewish origin, but surely the Jewish version would not have contained any bacon. In any case it's a peasant dish, simple, but tasting very good. After a day of baking bread, the remaining heat in the oven and the remainder of bread dough would be used to make flammeküche.
In Alsace, you can find restaurants specializing in flammeküche. I have been to one in Strasbourg many years ago - but I presume if you'd go today it would be much the same. In the restaurant we went to, you would order the flammeküche "for the table" and the waiters would keep bringing a new one each time you'd finished, until you'd tell them to stop. It was also possible to order a different version from time to time.
For those of you who cannot go to Strasbourg (or anywhere else in Alsace) to try this dish, you can also make it yourself. For 6/8 persons, you need:
Preheat the oven to 230-250 degrees C. Roll out the dough very thinly into one or more squarish pieces, depending on what fits in your oven. Put the rolled out dough on a well-greased baking tray.
Mix the cream and cheese together and season with the pepper, salt and nutmeg. Spread the mixture over the dough but leave the edges free (like with a pizza).
Scatter onion and bacon over the tarte, you can also add grated Emmenthal cheese and/or mushrooms. Don't add too many toppings, this is not actually a pizza even though it looks like one!
Put the tarte flambée in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the sides are crisp and a bit singed and the bacon is nice and crispy.
To eat, cut into pieces that you then fold up or roll up. Have plenty of napkins ready. Enjoy!