* updated 11 July 2011 with plum, peach and apricot versions (see end).
Like many New Yorkers, we skipped town for the Fourth and headed north for some time away from the concrete, with lots of country-fresh air and, importantly, strawberry picking. Jane and Paul’s (aptly located on Fruit Street!), in Clara’s hometown was open, thankfully, on a Sunday, and off we were with family in tow. Though it was quite literally the last day of the season, the strawberry patch we found ourselves in was a goldmine (a redmine?) of gorgeous strawberries – small, sweet and untroubled by birds and a seasons-worth of pickers. It’s hard not to be greedy when picking strawberries. Hidden beneath almost every leaf is the promise of a new, undisturbed cluster of beautiful fruit…Before we knew it we’d picked almost ten pounds.
After a tummy-ache-inducing strawberry-eating binge, we looked around for other ways to highlight our bounty. These sweet, bright strawberries were the perfect excuse to try Lindsey Shere’s galette, pulled from Thomas McNamee’s Alice Waters and Chez Panisse (Clara’s reading the book and finding the experience wholly inspiring, with its simple, evocative treatment of food and life.) This galette is just lovely – the perfect way to feature fruit at its freshest and most flavorful. There’s nothing overwrought or in-the-way about this tart. It’s just a touch of sugar, a flaky crust, and fruit. (And a plus: it’s easy to adapt to the size you want or the fruit you have.)
Lindsey’s recipe calls for stone fruits – peaches, plums – though she notes it can be easily adapted to pears and apples. In our version, the soft, ripe strawberries – and the equally-last-of-the-season rhubarb we added for a bit of tartness – took considerably less time to cook, so keep an eye out when substituting fruits lest your galette burn.
a strawberry rhubarb galette
adapted from Lindsey Shere of Chez Panisse fame
Start with a pâte brisée, of whatever size you need for what you’re making. We made a largish one for six people, so for this we used one cup of flour, six tablespoons of cold butter, a pinch of salt and a quarter cup of very cold water. Crumble the butter into the salted flour quickly so as to not warm the butter too much (we prefer to use our hands, though a pastry blender would work well here). Add the water and bring the dough together quickly. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge while you prep the fruit, to let the flour relax.
Wash, dry and slice your fruits. Our strawberries were little, so we merely halved them, and the rhubarb we cut in thin slices. You want the fruit to have substance – too thin and it will melt into an unidentifiable mash – but it should not be so thick that it doesn’t cook properly. Depending on the fruit, you may want to peel it. For this size, we used about three cups of fruit, but seeing how the strawberries cooked down, we could have gone for the whole quart.
Roll the dough out in a circle. You want it very thin, as thin as possible, and lay out on a buttered baking sheet. Later, you’ll have to slide the galette onto a rack to cool. Little galettes are easy to lift, but something of this size risks breaking in the middle, so best to use a baking sheet without ledges if you have one.
Lindsey suggests placing the baking sheet on top of a pizza stone in the oven, to get the pan extra hot. Luckily, we were cooking in a fantastically stocked kitchen equipped with such a stone. If you have one, put it in the oven now, as you preheat to 400F.
Make a mixture of equal parts sugar and flour – for this size we used two tablespoons of each – and spread evenly over the bottom of the galette, out to about two inches from the edge. The mixture is there to absorb and thicken the juices from the fruit. Lindsey notes she sometimes adds a layer of almond paste, or crumbled macaroons, which we can only imagine would be even more delicious.
Add your fruit – in a fancy pattern or just in a natural jumble. And, sprinkle generously with sugar. Here is where you need to judge. The strawberries were sweet, but the rhubarb was quite tart. We were not particularly generous with the sugar, maybe three tablespoons worth. We could have used more, though in the end the ice cream was a sweet-enough foil. You might want to test the amount by cooking a tiny bit of your fruit on the stove, and sugaring it to see how much you need.
Fold the edges of the dough up over the fruit. Brush the edges heavily with water, and them sprinkle generously with sugar so it’s well-coated. The sugar will caramelize in the oven and give your galette a beautiful toasted sheen.
Lindsey says to bake in the oven 40-50 minutes, but the strawberry galette was ready in a mere 30. We suggest rotating the galette in the oven at 20 minutes, and checking the baking process at that point. (It’s important to rotate, so the galette browns evenly.) The thing to look for is for the fruit to be thoroughly cooked – soft and caramelized – and also, that the juices are boiling in the middle, which indicates the flour’s cooked through as well. Watch to make sure the caramel on the crust is not burning! In a pinch, you can cover the galette with foil.
When it’s done, slide immediately onto a rack to cool, or the bottom will get soggy. In the first minute or so, when the juices are still bubbling, use a pastry brush to pick up those juices and glaze any of the fruit that looks dry. After that, the juices will be absorbed by the flour, so be quick! Cool until the juices have firmed up slightly.
Ready to enjoy plain with a good espresso (for breakfast?!) or dressed with ice cream or crème chantilly for a rich treat.
peaches, plums and apricots …
are in season, and on a walk through the GreenMarket in Union Square the other day we couldn’t resist taking home a few of each. Lindsey is right – this tart is just fantastic with stone fruits. Better even than with the strawberries, which are a bit soft and thin out when cooked. We made smaller versions, two of each fruit, for a picnic in the park – they’re easy to transport once cool and not too runny, which makes them an ideal of-the-moment bite of sweetness at the end of a meal outdoors. Plus, smaller means a better crust to fruit ratio, which we’re always in favor of!
As for the to-dos: we doubled the pâte brisée (so, two cups of flour, etc) and ended up with six small galettes to share, each about 5-6 inches in diameter. The peaches we peeled, the plums and apricots we did not. And we filled them quite a lot. We were worried we’d been too generous but the fruits held their shape through the cooking process and the flour-sugar bottom worked its magic in absorbing juices. Other than that, just a little sugar (though in the future we might experiment with some herbs…peach and sage? plum and mint?). And yes, though smaller, these did take the full 45 minutes to cook through, and the crust was never once in danger of burning despite being heavily sugared.
These fruits caramelized beautifully, and as they’re more substantial, they held up nicely when cut into quarters. We were undecided as to a favorite, though we have to say, the brilliant purple of the plums is hard to resist…