Recipe of the month: Käseküche, alsatian fromage blanc tarte
This month, after Franche-Comté, we head a bit north for Alsace. A charming, inviting region, I had the opportunity to visit recently and take a sensational gastronomic tour.
Alsace has produced many unique local recipes, with a good number of them incorporating pork in various forms. These recipes are not easily adaptable but many great Michelin-starred chefs have used them as inspiration. Indeed, Alsace appears often in gastronomic guides: its spacious flammkuchen (a white “pizza”) bistros, its incredibly picturesque restaurants, its elegant wine-tasting cellars, and of course the fleischschnackas (a pasta dish), sürkrüt (known to Americans by its German name, sauerkraut), baeckeoffe (a type of stew), coq au riesling, various deli meats, and schiffele (a dish made with smoked pork shoulder).
On the sweet side, Alsace offers a wide array of desserts. The kugelhopf can be served as dessert, but is served often at breakfast, as an afternoon snack, or even in a savory version as hors d’oeuvres. A symbol of Alsatian hospitality, the kugelhopf is usually baked in a fluted clay mold whose manufacture is a specialty of the Alsatian town of Soufflenheim. The classic recipe is passed down from generation to generation, but many home bakers have secret family recipes, as Georges Spetz observed in his book of gastronomic poetry and recipes, L’Alsace gourmande (1914).
Alsatians consume a great number of tarts, both homemade and store-bought. Damson plum tarts are popular; so too a tart made with fromage blanc, called a Käseküche . Another typical Alsatian dessert is white or red wine cakes. During Advent, a highly festive and eagerly awaited season in Alsace, a large variety of cookies and biscuits, called braedalas or braedeles , are made, as well as spice cake, which is distributed to children beginning at St. Nicolas.
For this first Alsatian recipe, I suggest not choucroute or flammenkuche, but something as easy as it is delicious, and less well known than the fermented cabbage and Alsatian pizza, so still something of a discovery: Käseküche , the Alsatian fromage blanc tarte.
For the crust
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 9 tbs cold butter
• 1 egg yolk
• ¼ cup water
• A pinch of salt
For the filling
• 35 oz fromage blanc (40% fat)
• ½ cup crème fraîche
• ½ cup and ¼ cup sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• ⅝ cup flour, sifted
• 5 eggs, separated
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. To make the tart crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3. Add the egg yolk and water and mix to form a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
4. To make the filling: In a large bowl, mix together the fromage blanc, crème fraiche, ½ cup sugar, vanilla extract, and sifted flour. Add the egg yolks to the batter and mix well. Set aside.
5. Beat the egg whites, taking care not to beat too vigorously at the beginning. When the egg whites begin to stiffen, add the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
6. Using a spatula, carefully fold the beaten egg whites into the fromage blanc mixture.
7. Roll out the pastry dough and transfer to a pie pan.
8. Fill with the fromage blanc mixture.
9. Bake the tart at 350°F for 45-50 minutes.
10. The tart is done once the filling has risen above the crust. Turn off the oven and leave the tart inside until the filling deflates to the same level as the crust. Place a round cooling rack on top of the tart, flip over, and remove pan. Allow to cool.
11. After the tart has completely cooled, flip the tart right side up and dust with powdered sugar.
I’ll end this recipe with this quote from Chef Bernard Loiseau. I wish you all a bon appétit. Until next time!
If you have any questions or comments, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chef de cuisine
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