This recipe is part of a series about cookbooks and recipe collections we have been given over the years. See here for an overview of all the cookbooks. In this post I will tell you about our wedding cookbook and how to make Alsatian Flammkuchen, literally flame cake.
2005 was a turbulent year in the best possible way.
It started off in Atlanta, USA where I was on expat assignment for my Swiss company. The year was spent travelling around the USA for business, going on a memorable mad-dash trip to Australia to train support staff, planning a wedding remotely, returning to Switzerland, getting married in Germany and finally moving to South Africa. You can read more about that difficult transition here but today let’s talk about the wedding.
In Germany it is common for the wedding party and other friends to contribute to the party in the form of entertainment and personalized gifts. Our guests put together a hilarious bi-lingual magazine the “Wedding Times” that our 12 year old has recently been pouring over with delight (ahem). They also compiled a recipe collection, a “Hochzeitskochbuch”, that is a wonderful collection of recipes representing the diversity of our friends and family – both culturally and personally. Some recipes are very detailed and complex (buy grains, grind them,…. eventually bake bread) others are highly amusing in their simplicity and realism (open packet, mix in water, eat).
This collection has been everywhere with us and is much more than a few pages of cooking instructions. It’s a memory of special people and good times and it is a tie that binds us to them so we don’t feel too adrift out in the big, wide world.
We haven’t made all of the recipes in this work of love but some have become firm favorites. The following recipe for Elsässer Flammkuchen was added by German friends I worked with in Switzerland. A few years after our wedding they went to Shanghai as expats. I remember at the time thinking: “There are a lot of places I’d go but I will NEVER go to China.” Yeah, well…. good thing I don’t mind being wrong.
Almut & Jan's Elsässer Flammkuchen
Flammkuchen is sometimes referred to as “German pizza” and literally means “flame cake”. It has it’s roots in the Alsace region (now in France), where bakers would use a thinly rolled out piece of bread dough to test the temperature of their wood burning ovens. If it burned quickly, the ovens were still too hot to bake bread. If it took more than a few minutes to bake the base, the ovens weren’t hot enough. At some point a baker got creative and added a splash of creme fraiche, some cheese, bacon and fresh onions, creating this simple yet delicious meal.
You can change it up with apples & cinnamon or blue cheese & grapes or… just don’t overload the base. It’s not deep dish pizza. Keep the toppings minimal and enjoy every crunchy bite.