One of the many highlights of my recent March Break in Montreal was that I convinced the gang to eat at 3 Brasseurs no less the three times -- in three different locations! So there are 9 brasseurs implicated in this tale, and I am thankful to them all.
This may sound like a food safety nightmare, but it has worked for me so far. This recipe is from Joy of Cooking. If you're leery of the whole procedure (or think it's a crazy waste of time) then you could just use sour cream instead, or cottage cheese (but it may be too bland), but come on! Give it a go! It's fun, and worth it!
One day before you plan to Flamm:
This "pie" is cooked on a thin pizza dough -- we're talking cracker here. This is a bit of a challenge to pull off, but if you give a dough a 24 hour stint in the fridge, it builds up a massive amount of gluten (sorry Alison!) and can become a thin and wonderful thing.
To make the dough, you need 2 cups of flour, 1/2 tsp yeast, 1/2 tsp honey, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp water (don't blame me, this measure is in the book), and 1/4 cup of vegetable oil.
The Cooks Illustrated team go on to describe a food processor method that looks like it is finished before you even start. I am a bit of a Luddite, however, and prefer the wooden spoon and bowl technique. For the Luddite version...
proof your yeast. I do this any time I make dough just to make sure my yeast is still alive. Take your water (it should be lukewarm), add the honey, add the yeast and stir. Wait about 5 mins, and you should see the yeast start to dance, and it will smell all boozy. Once this happens, you're good to go. If it doesn't make sure your water is warm enough -- if it is, go buy new yeast.
Mix the dry ingredients, but use only half the flour.
Gradually add the last half of the flour. It will become really hard to stir towards the end, but soilder on -- it's good for your pipes! You'll end up with a nice ball at the end. Knead the dough a bit in the bowl if stirring becomes impossible. Just grab an edge of the ball, pull it to the centre, press down, and keep working your way around the ball and the bowl until you feel like you're done and all the flour has disappeared.
Turn the dough out onto a nice floured surface...
Then pour a little olive oil on top and spread it around to coat the ball. Finally, pop it in a bowl, cover it, and put it in the fridge until the next day. (Cooks Illustrated says to put it in plastic wrap, but you already know how I feel about plastic. Just make sure your bowl is big enough -- this puppy will double or triple in size over night. This is also a warning to keep your yeast measurement as indicated -- if you're tempted to add more yeast you are sure to have a massive ball of dough take over your whole fridge -- like the chicken heart in that Fat Albert episode. You have been warned!)
On the day you plan to Flamm!
First bit of advice: do not get a massive head cold. It will diminish your enthusiasm and make you hesitate to have lots of beer. But, as I've said before, soilder on! (The dough will take over your fridge if you don't!)
To make the flamm, you need your dough, your creme fraiche, bacon, onions, and cheese (I went for compte, which is pretty dear, but also pretty awesome -- you could go for any gruyere, cheddar, whatever, just don't use mozza because you want some flavour here.) Cooks doesn't call for cheese, but 3 Brasseurs uses it and I wanted it, so there.
Three cheers for the 3 Brasseurs! Huzzah!