Rick Stein’s French ‘pizza’ of cheese and ham

I was first introduced to tarte flambée, which comes from Alsace, with the explanation that it’s France’s answer to pizza. In fact, though, it’s not much like pizza at all – apart from being very thin and savoury. As it is made with unleavened dough it bakes very crisply indeed, which is its great quality. Why it isn’t as famous as pizza escapes me. It comes in rounds or rectangles but I find rectangles are more convenient, as you can fit two on a standard domestic oven baking sheet.

French pizza
James Murphy

SERVES 4-12 (depending on whether it’s a light lunch or snacks with drinks)

DOUGH

250g plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
150ml tepid water
2 tbsp sunflower oil

TOPPING

250g full-fat crème fraîche
1 large onion, finely sliced
160g smoked bacon lardons, fried until browned
250g Emmental or Gruyère cheese or a mixture, grated
salt and black pepper
a few rasps freshly grated nutmeg

1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl, then add the water and oil and bring everything together to make a rough dough. Transfer the dough to a floured board and knead well. Roll the dough into two rectangles, each measuring about 25cm x 28cm, and place on one or two baking sheets. 

2. Preheat the oven to 230C/210C fan or as hot as your oven will go. Spread the crème fraîche over the dough, leaving a little border around the edges, then dot with the onion, lardons and grated cheese. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

3. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the base is crisp and the cheese is bubbling. Slide the tarts on to a wooden board anduse a pizza cutter to slice them into portions. Serve immediately with drinks or as a light lunch with a green salad.

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rick stein secret france recipeRick Stein’s Secret France by Rick Stein will be published on Thursday 31 October by BBC Books, price £26. To pre-order a copy with free p&p for £20.80 until 10 November, visit mailshop.co.uk or call 01603 648155.