Provence had Pissaladière, while in Alsace they have tarte flambée, a pizza-style base topped with crème fraîche, lardons and onions - popular ingredients in Alsatian cuisine.
Gluten-free is a concept that hasn't quite caught on in the land of baguettes, and it can be frustrating for anyone on a gluten- free diet who wants to try delicious French pastries and bread, so here I've replaced the regular wheat base with chestnut flour and tapioca starch. This means no kneading is required - just mix the ingredients together to form a ball.
- 160g chestnut flour*
- 140g tapioca starch
- 1 teaspoon guar gum**
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon light soft brown sugar
- 5g dried yeast
- 190ml warm water
FOR THE TOPPING
- 4 tablespoons crème fraîche
- 2 red onions, thinly sliced
- 100g lardoons or cubes of smoked bacon
- 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
- Make the base. Mix together the flour tapioca starch, guar gum, baking powder, salt and sugar in the warm water. When the yeast begins to foam, pour it into the well and mix everything together to form a ball.
- Roll out the dough between 2 pieces of baking powder until it is 5mm thick, then place it into a baking tin that is large enough for the pastry to sit flat. (The shape doesn't really matter, it's the 5mm thickness that's important.) Remove the top layer of paper and trim off any excess paper from around the edges of the bottom piece.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C and place a large baking tray in the oven to get hot.
- Spread the crème fraîche over the dough, then sprinkle the onions, lardons and thyme leaves on top. Slide the baking tin on to the hot baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the edges are crisp. The tart is traditionally eaten warm, but it's great cold too.
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*Chestnut flour can be bought in health shops and online. For tapioca starch, try your supermarket or a Chinese grocery store.
** Guar gum is a very powerful thickening agent made from guar beans. You can find it in powdered form online and in health food shops.
For a sweet topping, replace the onions and lardons with thinly sliced apples and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon and brown sugar.