No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Tarte Alsace

From the Alsace region of France comes this French version of a pizza. Otherwise known as Tarte Flambe - but only, IMO, if it is flashed in a wood-fired oven! The original recipe calls for lardons of bacon where I've used tomatoes or mushrooms.

(This amount of dough will make 2 tarts 45cm by 30 or 4 tarts 30cm by 25)

400g (or 2 mugs) strong white flour
1/2 tsp salt
250ml (or 2/3rds of a mug) lukewarm water plus 1 teaspoon yeast

For the topping:
200g tub creme fraiche (or Philadelphia or other soft cheese)
2 medium-sized onions, thinly sliced 
6-8 medium tomatoes or mushrooms and black pepper

1. Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Measure the water, stir in the yeast until it dissolves, then add the yeast liquid to the flour.

2. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife (starting with the yeast first, to dissolve it properly), cutting through the dough. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3. Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – and stop before you get fed up!

4. Divide your dough according to the size of your baking sheets and form each piece gently into a cob shape. Roll out each portion of dough very thinly, flouring the worktop and the dough, to the size of the baking sheet.

5. Prepare the topping (the dough will be rising while you do this). Slice the onions very thinly and the tomatoes or mushrooms not quite so thin.

6. Place each rolled out piece of dough onto a prepared baking sheet. Spread each tarte with creme fraiche (or the soft cheese), cover with the sliced onions then place the tomato or mushrooms on top, followed by black pepper to taste.

7. Leave to prove until the dough is risen and puffy, then bake in a hot oven 230C, 450F or gas mark 8 for between 10-15 minutes. Check after about 8 minutes and turn round in the oven if  necessary. To check if they are finished lift up the side with a spatula to check the bottom is beginning to get some colour. The whole side of the tarte should lift up together.

These are best eaten straight away, but if you have some left over, it will freeze well. Reheat in a low oven for 8-10 minutes - or in a dry frying pan for a few minutes.

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