Onion Tart (Zwiebelkuchen)

Region: Central and Southern German wine growing region, Alsace, Switzerland

I first came across the Zwiebelkuchen when as a young boy I travelled to the Palatinate Wine growing region with my parents.

The  onion tart is commonly a fall/autumn dish, traditionally served with most of white wine  in the uncompleted fermentation stage (known as Federweißer in Germany).

It may be hard to get Federweißer outside of Germany and when not in season (which is usually the month of September) so a fresh, dry, fruity white wine will also work just fine.

The onion tart is commonly made with a short crust pastry dough or yeast dough (there is ongoing discussion which is the better alternative) in a 28 cm (11 inch) deep dish pie pan and topped with sautéed onions and bacon and a spiced egg / sour crème mixture. Caraway seeds give additional flavor and help in the digestion of the otherwise quite explosive onion / wine combination.

I add a bottom layer of ground beef to give it even more substance. I appreciate that this is not the way to prepare a traditional Zwiebelkuchen, however, it tastes even better this way.

Despite my changes, it remains a  very simply dish, but perfect in the fall season and very tasty indeed.

Here is my variation of the recipe:

Serves: 4 – 6                 Difficulty: Medium                    Preparation time: 90 mins.


  • 250g (9 oz) white or whole wheat flour
  • Freshly Ground Salt and Pepper, Nutmeg, Caraway seeds
  • 7 medium sized eggs
  • 2 TSP ice cold water
  • 125 g (5 oz) of butter
  • 2 TBS of pork lard or butter
  • 300 g (10.5 oz) Onions, chopped
  • 300 g (10.5 oz) red Onions, cut into fine rings or strips
  • 300 g (10.5 oz) Leek, chopped
  • 250 g (8.5 oz) ground meat (pork and beef/veal mixed)
  • 1 medium to large clove of gralic
  • 200 g (7 oz.) of smoked bacon bits
  • 400 g (14 oz) of solid sour crème of crème fraiche
  • 1 TBS of chopped fresh parsley
  • Butter and flour for the pie pan
  • 1 small bag of dried legumes (peas, beans, lentils, etc.)

Preparing the dough:

Combine 250g (9 oz) white whole wheat flour, 125 g (5 oz) of butter in small chunks, 1 egg, and 2 TBS of ice water. Blend well to an even dough using your hand mixer with dough hooks or your hands. You should achieve a non sticky, solid dough. If it is too crumbly, add some butter, water or milk. If it is too soft, add more flour.

Form dough into a ball and wrap in foil and chill in fridge for 45 mins.

The onion filling:

Peel and chop 300 g (10.5 oz) Onions, (if you don’t cut the root, the event will be less teary). Finely slice the 300 g (10.5 oz) red onions into rings or strips; finely chop 300 g (10.5 oz) of leek.

The bacon bits should be small. If they come too large, cut them into smaller bits. Place the bacon in a cold, large cooking pot and crank up the heat. Melt the bacon for a few minutes until they bacon is crunchy. Remove bacon from pot and set aside. Add 2 TBS of pork lard or butter and let melt. As soon as the grease has melted add the onion mixture and while constantly stirring on medium heat glaze until all is soft but not brown. Return half of the bacon, stir, and let onion mixture cool off.

Glaze on garlic clove in fying pan with a little bit of butter or oil, add ground meat and fry until cumbly, season with salt, pepper and one TS of Mustard.

Putting the dough into the baking dish:

Butter the baking dish and cover the entire baking dish with a thin layer of flour. Shake off any excess flour.

Preheat the oven on upper and bottom heat setting to 175°C or 350° F (Gas: Setting 2). Evenly roll out the dough to a circle with a 32 cm or 12.5 inches diameter.  Place in baking dish and press the edges up  at the sides to a 2 cm (roughly 1 inch) crust. Cut off any excess dough.  Place a sheet of baking paper over the dough and place legumes on the baking paper and onto the dough. Bake for ten minutes in oven. Remove from oven. Remove baking sheet and legumes. Place dough and pan in oven again and bake another 8-10 minutes

Remove from oven and set aside.

Adding the filling:

Mix the remaining 6 medium eggs with 400g (14 oz) crème fraiche and beat until you have an even mass. Strongly season mixture with freshly ground salt, pepper, nutmeg, and caraway seeds.

First evenly spread ground meat over the dough. Add and spread the onion, bacon mixture over the meat. Sprinkle the remaining bacon  over mixture. Add and evenly spread the egg / sour crème mixture and sprinky a dash of caraway seeds on top.

Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool off slightly, but serve warm with above described wine selection.

Tastes even better the next day warmed up.



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