As the name suggests, flamiche is Flemish, a reminder that in the 14th century, the Dukes of Burgundy ruled as far as Flanders and the North Sea. Flamiche is a robust version of quiche made with bread dough instead of pastry and it needs a pungent filling. Personally, I like to work with generous amounts of bread dough, so this recipe makes two flamiches, each enough for eight people. You’ll find a cheese filling below as an alternative to the leek, so you can make two flavors and offer a choice. Simply divide the filling amounts in half to make one of each.
for the bread dough
- 1 1/2 cups milk IMPORTANT for UK and France this is 300 ml/1/2 pint milk
- 1 tablespoon/10 g/1/3 oz dry active yeast
- 4 cups/500 g/l lb flour, more if needed
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 eggs, beaten to mix
- 1 cup/250 g/1/2 lb butter
for the leek filling
- 1 1/2 lb/750 g leeks
- 2 tablespoons/30 g/1 oz butter
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped thyme or sage
- salt and pepper
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup/75 ml/2 1/2 fl oz heavy cream
two 10-inch springform pans
To make the bread dough: Scald the milk in a small saucepan and let it cool to tepid. Pour about a quarter cup into a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top, and leave it until dissolved, about 5 minutes. Sift the flour into a bowl with the sugar and salt and make a well in the center. Add the remaining milk, eggs, and yeast mixture. With your hand gradually work the flour into the liquid ingredients to form a smooth dough — it should be quite soft, but if very sticky, add more flour. Alternatively, use a heavy duty electric mixer with a dough hook to combine the ingredients.
To knead the dough by hand, lift it up and throw it down on a floured work surface until it is very elastic and resembles the texture of chamois leather, about 5 minutes. Work in more flour if necessary so that at the end of kneading the dough is somewhat sticky but holds together in one piece. Cream the butter and add it to the dough, squeezing with your fist until the butter is incorporated, about 5 minutes. You can also knead the dough and add the butter in the mixer — it will take about half the time. After kneading, transfer the dough to a buttered bowl, turn it over so the top is buttered, and cover the bowl with a damp cloth. Leave it in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
Meanwhile, make the filling: Trim the leeks, discarding most of the green tops, cut them lengthwise, and slice them into ¼-in/6-cm slices. Wash them thoroughly to remove any grit and drain them in a colander. Melt the butter in a medium pan, add the leeks with the thyme or sage, salt, and pepper, and press a piece of foil on top. Cover the pan with the lid and sweat the leeks over low heat until they are very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Do not let them brown.
Generously butter the pans. When the dough is risen, knead it lightly to knock out the air, and divide it in half. On a floured surface, roll or pat each piece of dough to a l5-in/40-cm round — it will be quite soft and floppy. Line the pans with dough, letting it drape over the rims. Spread the leeks on the dough. Whisk the egg yolks and cream with salt and pepper until mixed, and spoon this custard over the leeks. Fold the overhanging dough on top of the filling to half cover it, pleating it slightly towards the center. Leave the flamiches to rise in a warm place until almost doubled, 20 to 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6 and set a baking sheet low down in the oven to heat.
Bake the flamiches until the crust is browned and starts pulling from the sides of the pan; the filling should be set. Allow 40 to 50 minutes’ cooking time and, if in doubt, bake them longer as the dough is slow to cook. If the top browns too quickly, cover it loosely with foil. Let the flamiches cool for 5 minutes before unmolding them. Serve flamiche freshly baked and warm with a green salad along side.
From My Château Kitchen by Anne Willan, 2000
Photo CREDIT: Langdon Clay