I’m an equal opportunity pizza lover. Whether it’s thick crust, deep dish, grilled, topped with tomato sauce, or dessert style, odds are I will adore it. But mmm, thin crust is my number one favorite. Tarte flambée, which is basically a thin crust pizza hailing from the Alsace region of France, has been at the top of my list of recipes that I’ve been dying to try for quite some time. When Natasha and Laz announced that this month’s 5 Star Makeover theme was pizza, I knew exactly what I wanted to make.
Tarte flambée is usually topped with crème fraiche, caramelized onions, and bacon (you can read more about it here or here), but I wanted to change it up a little. I kept two of the traditional elements (the super thin crust and the caramelized onions), but I used an Italian gorgonzola dolce instead of crème fraiche and champagne grapes instead of bacon.
Gorgonzola dolce has to be my favorite kind of blue cheese. Its greenish-blue veins are much more mildly pungent than other kinds of blue cheese, and the white parts are almost buttery. It has a rich and creamy spreadable texture and melts nicely on pizza.
Champagne grapes, unlike the name suggests, are not used for making champagne at all. They also called Zante currants, black Corinth grapes, or just “table grapes”. They are small and sweet and are commonly eaten as is, or dried into what we know as currants. And of course they go fantastically well with blue cheese. (You can read more about champagne grapes on Wikipedia.)
Serves about 4 to 6 as an appetizer
2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 cup lukewarm water, plus up to 3 teaspoons more
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled (I used Italian gorgonzola dolce)
1/3 cup (2 oz) champagne grapes
A pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
For the Dough:
Oil a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon oil; set aside.
Pulse together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a food processor (or whisk together, if not using a food processor). Pulse in the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and then pulse in the water until it forms a shaggy dough (alternatively, you can do this by hand with a wooden spoon). Flour your hands and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead the dough a couple times until it comes together (an indentation should remain in the dough when you press down with a finger).
Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl, cover the bowl with a damp towel, and let it sit (at warm room temperature) until doubled in size, about 60 to 90 minutes. Gently deflate the dough (don’t press out all the air); put it back in the bowl, cover with the towel, and let it rest another 45 minutes.
For the Toppings:
While the dough rises the second time, caramelize the onion. Heat the oil and butter in a medium-sized, thick-bottomed skillet over medium heat; add the onion and cook until translucent and starting to turn light caramel in color, about 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (don’t completely caramelize the onion since it will finish caramelizing in the oven). (If the pan gets too hot or the onion starts to burn in places, you can add a splash of water or turn the heat down a bit.)
Cooking the Tarte:
Preheat oven to 475F. Use your hands to stretch the dough out (or roll it with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface; or lightly oil a large round pizza stone and use your hands to push it out) to a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Make a few pricks with a fork in the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes. Spread on the onion (leaving about a 1/2 inch border all around), then top with the cheese and grapes; sprinkle on the nutmeg. Bake until the crust is light golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.