August 12, 2005

Galettes!


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A galette is the rustic, uncouth cousin to the prime and proper pie and urbane, sophisticated tart. Like tarts and pies, galettes are basically pastry crust containers with yummy stuff inside -- although we normally only eat sweet pastries in this country, savory or dinner pastries are quite common in France and Italy, and I personally make sweet and savory equally often. However, the galette we're making today is sweet, filled with seasonal fruit. The most obvious difference between a galette and pie or tart should be obvious just from the picture: there's no pan! Instead, the pastry dough is casually folded up around the filling, left oblong and untrimmed, in a true rustic fashion. This gives galettes one critical weakness, but they more than make up for it in flexibility and style. More on that later.

Dough
Basically, your favourite pie or tart dough will work. However, I strongly recommend not using store-bought dough -- it's designed to fit a pie pan, and galettes need significantly more dough for a dish of the same diameter. If you've never made pie crust before, it's not too terribly hard, but you might want to watch a more experienced baker a couple times, because it can be kind of tricky. Here's my technique:
Ingredients:
  1. 2 cups of flour
  2. 1 tbsp sugar
  3. 1 tsp salt
  4. 8 tbsp butter (that's a stick and a half)
  5. about 1/2 cup cold water, with 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

Thoroughly sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter half a stick at a time using a dough blender; when thoroughly mixed, the dough should have the texture of corn meal. If the butter is starting to get soft, refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Now, add the cold water a tablespoon or two at a time, and don't worry if you don't need the entire half-cup. Work it in thoroughly; I usually just use my fingers at this point. The dough should stick together loosely, but not to anything else (fingers, countertop) too much. Roll/smush into a thick disc, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes while you work on ...

Filling
Just about any filling you'd use in a pie or tart will work in a galette EXCEPT custards; without a pan, the dough alone can't hold all that liquid in place. So no lemon meringue galettes. For the one above, I used fresh peaches (4 peaches = about 6 cups), raspberries, and blueberries (1 cup each) because they were on special at the grocery store. Canned fruits work okay, but fresh will always taste better if they're ripe; if you do go with canned, be sure to drain off the syrup, and you probably won't need to add sugar.
Ingredients:
  1. 6-8 cups of fruit
  2. 1/4 cup ( = 3 tbsp) each of sugar and flour
  3. 1/4 cup lemon juice

Clean and slice the fruit into a big bowl -- no, bigger than you think, you'll want plenty of space left over. Stir in the sugar and flour to coat the fruit evenly. If your fruit is especially juicy, omit the lemon juice. If your fruit is especially sweet, omit the sugar. Be sure to check for taste at this point!

Building the galette
Ingredients: Dough, filling, and one egg or melted butter
Preheat oven to 400*F. Take the dough out of the fridge and throw away the plastic. Lightly flour a large space of cutting board or clean countertop, and have a sheet pan and the fruit at hand. Now you have some options, which is the main advantage of a galette: you can make one large pastry, 6-7" in diameter, or several small ones 3-4" in diameter, or any combination in between, because you don't have to worry about fitting everything into a pie pan. Large ones make for a stunning, rustic presentation, especially since galettes are so uncommon in this country. Smaller ones are 'cuter', allow for some customization of the filling or garnish, and cook faster.

Divide the dough equally into the number of galettes you'll be making, and roll out one at a time with a rolling pin into rough circles, about 1/8" thick and twice the diameter you want for the final galette. Don't worry about getting them perfectly round or having cracks out towards the edges -- these are rustic desserts, remember! Transfer the rolled piece of dough to the baking sheet, pile fruit in the middle to about the diameter you want for the final galette, and fold up the edges. Make sure there aren't any cracks in the sides where juice can escape, and brush the exposed pastry with the egg or butter to encourage browning.

For small galettes, baking time might be as short as 15 minutes, while large galettes can take half an hour or more. The crust should be golden brown and the exposed fruit just starting to dry out. Like a pie, let cool down during dinner so the inside isn't molten, and serve with vanilla ice cream. It keeps well for quite a few days, even just covered in foil or plastic on the counter, and doesn't need to be reheated to be delicious.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

ooo that looks yummy to the max! you should bring one to me when you come here.
Manda

mal said...

dan, will you come cook for me, im hungry and your food looks much better than anything i have the energy to make...