Friday, August 14, 2015

Strawberry Galette

As we inch toward September and the winds of fall, I’m here to remind you to be sure not to let the chance to make a fresh fruit galette pass you by.  In my opinion, fruit galettes are a must have every spring and summer.  A free form version of pie, they are much easier to make and one of the most delicious things you can eat during our fabulous fresh fruit season.  Nothing really beats the contrast of buttery, crisp and flaky pastry and the sensation of pampered fruit.

At the renowned Chez Panisse in Berkeley, fruit galettes have always been central to their daily dessert menu at the upstairs cafĂ©.  When I interned there, I saw some of the very best fruit produced in the country float through the door.  Just amazing color, texture, taste.  So I clearly understood how much this dessert is beloved by their patrons and so very rightly so.

One of the basic components for assembling the galettes at Chez Panisse is what they call “moon dust,” a simple mixture of equal parts almonds, flour, sugar and pulverized amaretti.  These ingredients are ground in a food processor and sprinkled on the pastry dough before the fruit is arranged on top.  This layer of moon dust prevents the crust from getting soggy and adds a subtle almond note to the finished product. 

Although I really love the fall season, I’m not quite ready for the shift.  There will be plenty of time for chocolate and nuts, apples and pears.  But for now, if you can locate some delicious fresh peaches, nectarines, apricots, figs or plums, don’t let them pass you by.  I happened to have some strawberries.  Whichever fruit you choose, it’s a delicious pastry to close out the summer.

Bench notes:
- It’s very important that the butter and water for the pastry dough are very, very cold.  If the butter is warm or soft, it blends too much with the flour and there won’t be the pockets of butter necessary to produce flakiness. 
- The finished dough will look like a pile of small bits similar to cottage cheese.  Resist the temptation to knead it, which will toughen it.  Just place the pile on a sheet of plastic wrap and pull it together as you wrap it tightly.  As it rests in the refrigerator, it will all come together.
- So why chill the dough after mixing?  Because it allows the gluten in the flour to relax (which means the dough won’t spring back when you go to roll it out), the water to be fully absorbed and the butter to firm up.
- I like to roll out my dough on a silpat or piece of parchment so I can lift the whole thing onto the baking sheet without stretching or tearing the dough.
- Mix the fruit and sugar just before you're ready to assemble the galette.  If it sits too long it will begin to macerate and you'll have too much of the juices flowing.
- Amaretti are traditional almond flavored crunchy cookies from Italy.  They’re made from noyau, the kernel found inside the apricot pit (almonds and apricots are botanically related).  If you don’t have access to amaretti, use another almond cookie you love.  
- You can make a larger quantity of moon dust and store it in an airtight container.

Strawberry Galette
Serves 6

Galette Dough
1 cup (5 oz) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 oz (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2 oz) very cold water

Moon Dust
1 tablespoon ground almonds                            
1 tablespoon (9 grams) flour       
1 tablespoon (13 grams) sugar                                      
1 tablespoon ground amaretti                   

1 lb fresh strawberries
3 tablespoons (39 grams) sugar, to taste

1/4 oz (1/2 tablespoon) unsalted butter, melted
sugar for sprinkling

To prepare the galette dough, place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2” pieces and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.  Add the cold water and pulse just until the dough starts to clump.  The dough will not look smooth but rather clumpy and a bit like small curd cottage cheese.  Gather the mixture and place on a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly.  Shape into a flattened disc and chill thoroughly.

For the moon dust, place all the ingredients into a food processor and process until finely ground.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

When you’re ready to roll out the dough, unwrap and let it rest on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper or silpat for just a few minutes.  It needs to warm up just enough to handle without a lot of resistance and cracking.  

Roll the dough out to about a 12” circle and 1/8” thickness, gently lifting and moving the dough after each roll and keeping it lightly floured as needed. When you have the desired shape, brush off any excess flour and lift the dough along with the parchment or silpat onto a baking sheet. Chill while you prepare the fruit.

Hull and slice the strawberries in half and place in a bowl.  Toss with 3 tablespoons of sugar, to taste.

Remove the prepared dough from the refrigerator and sprinkle 1/4 cup of the moon dust evenly across the pastry, leaving a 1 1/2” border around the edges.  Arrange the fruit on top of the moon dust.  Lift and gather the edges up and over on top of the fruit, being careful not to create any cracks that will cause the galette to leak.  Work your way around the circle with both hands, pleating and pressing gently to keep the dough in place.  Chill if the oven isn’t ready.

Brush the border of dough with melted butter and dust with a light sprinkle of sugar.  Bake until the dough is crisp and browned and the fruit is bubbling, about 40 minutes.


Lola Spandex said...

Oh, I love this post. I feel like you just imparted secrets from a very special kitchen, tips I would just never know otherwise. (Well, yes, actually, I guess that is exactly what happened.!) Thank you once again for sharing a splendid recipe with your fabulous bench notes.

pastry studio said...

Thank you very much, Lola. I have some great memories from all my pastry travels, when I stop and think about it. Hope you get to enjoy a galette or two before we head into fall. Cheers!

Kate said...

Goodness yes!
I, for one, am thrilled to see a summery or spring dessert as your post.
I know you live in California but upstate New York is not ready to embrace cinnamon, pumpkins, apples or allspice
Long live berries enrobed in flaky pastry :-)

pastry studio said...

Howdy, Kate. Glad to see another fan of the last lingering days of the fruit season. I'm sure upstate NY is gorgeous in the fall but there's no need to rush this moment! I'm still seeing lots and lots of peaches and nectarines, plums and berries and I plan on savoring every last bit of them.