Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Plum Galette by any other name is still a Rustic Plum Tart and a Plum Crostata . . .

Call it what you will, a plum galette/rustic tart/crostata is a wondrous marvel of simplicity, constructable by anyone who can wield a rolling pin and slice fruit. Just about any dough that's usable for pie crust will do. Nothing fancy to worry about--no elaborate edge crimping, no lattice weaving, no need to weep bitterly if the dough tears while en route to the baking sheet. It's the miracle dessert. Touch it and you'll be healed. (Okay, not really. Forgive my irreverence. Touch it and you'll just really want to eat it.)

When brevity is the name of the game, make a galette. Grab a portion of pie crust dough that's been at the ready, frozen in your freezer; it will defrost quickly while you're gathering and cutting up your fruit. Scrounge around in your fridge for some nice stone fruit that's eager to be eaten up. Plums, peaches, nectarines, etc. --any of those will work. Throw in a few sweet cherries or berries of some kind for added color if you like. Assuming you have a usable chunk of dough laying around, you can probably get one of these babies into the oven in 20 minutes without breaking a sweat.

For the galette you see pictured, I used a basic pate brisee recipe that I've used before for fruit pies. For one galette, you'll need the equivalent amount of dough that you'd need for a one-crust pie.

Plum Galette (aka Rustic Tart/Crostata)

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

About the dough:
Any pie dough recipe you like will probably do fine but here's the one I used. This recipe makes enough for two double-crust pies or four single-crust pies; it's good to be able to grab a package of your own ready-to-use dough from the freezer whenever you need it. This recipe makes enough for four galettes--one now and three in the future! Wahooo!

3 and 1/2 cups AP flour, bleached
1 cup cake flour
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 lb. minus 2 Tbsp. (that's 3 sticks plus 6 Tbsp.) of unsalted butter, cut into smallish cubes and put in the freezer for about one hour
1 and 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup ice water, plus more on hand if needed

Combine the two flours, sugar, and salt in the large bowl of a food processor. Pulse until well combined. (Or, do the whole process below by hand in a big bowl with a pastry blender if you prefer. It'll work just as well.)

Scatter the frozen butter cubes over the top of the flour. Pulse the food processor until the cubes are no smaller than peas.

Slowly add the lemon juice and half the water, pulsing just until combined. Continue adding more water until the dough holds together when you test it by pressing a bit of it in your hand. When the dough seems ready to you, dump it into a large regular bowl, or onto a clean flat surface, so you can gather it all up into a ball.

Divide the ball into four equal parts, and shape each one into a flattened disk. Wrap all of the disks individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate however many of them you plan to use within a day or two; freeze the rest.

For the fruit filling:
Use stone fruit, sliced up into large bite-size pieces (plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots will all work; I used about 7 medium-sized plums, and a handful of dark sweet cherries that had been pitted and cut into quarters) and, if you like, add some sweet berries for added color.

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
large pinch of salt
1 egg beaten with two teaspoons of cold water
3-4 Tbsp. sanding sugar or granulated sugar (for top of galette)

Mix all of he fruit, sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

To assemble the galette:

When your dough is cold and ready to be rolled out, sprinkle flour lightly onto your surface. Roll the dough into a 14" circle. Transfer the rolled dough to a parchment-paper covered baking sheet (or roll the dough out on the parchment to start with, if you like).

Place all of the fruit, and all of its sugary juice, into a pile in the middle of the rolled dough. Leave about 2" of dough as a margin all around. Bring the edges of the dough up around the fruit, bit by bit, "pleating" the dough with your fingers, and squeezing it together at the top as needed so it holds together without falling back down. If any part of it tears, just patch it back together. Remember, it's rustic.

Use a pastry brush to brush the egg mixture onto the crust.

Sprinkle the entire top of the galette generously with sanding sugar or granulated sugar.

Bake the galette in a 375 oven for about 25 minutes or so, until golden brown.

Serve warm or cold, garnished if you like with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

So uncomplicated, and yet the end result will amaze and astound. Isn't it nice to simplify? (Henry David Thoreau would be so proud of us. "Simplify, simplify." I'll bet he liked to bake.)

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