Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Berry Galette: The Lazy Man's Pie Recipe

Have you ever had one of those dishes that every time you see a picture or recipe of it, you think: "I want to make that someday..." but the day never comes? (It's like reading, and it's the reason why I have a personal library--there is always something waiting to be read--and baked.)

For me, that is true of many recipes, but in the dessert category, it has been a galette.  I'm a sucker for peasant anything.  As a kid I dreamt of living somewhere in the countryside in a little thatched roof cottage, dirt floor and all, and I loved, and still love, what would in the old days be considered peasant food (my mom's shepherd's pie was a favorite).  By their very nature, dishes created by the lower class tend to be remarkably simple, requiring only a pot or two and a few basic ingredients.

A galette wonderfully contains these qualities: it doesn't even require a pan.  It is a pastry dough made of flour, butter, and water rolled into a circle with a heap of fruit dumped in the middle.  The edges of the pastry dough are folded up and pleated around the base of the fruit heap to form the crust, then the whole thing is baked.  Talk about simplicity.

I'm headed to a Memorial Day picnic-y lunch this afternoon, and in my "What do I take???" search, I came across a galette recipe or two, and I finally decided to just DO it.  I read over the recipe in Baking Illustrated for a "Free Form Fruit Tart" and the recipe in The 150 Best American Recipes for "Santa Rosa Plum Galette" and kind-of combined the two to make my own recipe.  Here is what I did:

Dough Ingredients and Prep:
1 cup all-purpose flour
Slightly heaping 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
11 Tblsp. cold unsalted butter, cut up into 1/4-inch slices
3 Tblsp. ice water (you may need more or less, depending on the humidity of the day)

Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times to blend. Add the slices of butter to the bowl.  Pulse in very short bursts until the butter and flour are blended to look the size of tiny peas.  Sprinkle the blend with one tablespoon of ice water then pulse with about 15 bursts.  Add the next tablespoon of ice water and repeat the 15 bursts.  Add the last tablespoon of ice water and pulse until the dough forms a large lump, about another 15 times.  If it seems that the dough is too dry, add another 1/2 tablespoon of ice water and pulse (you just don't want it too wet.). The dough ball should be moist but not sticky.  It should hold together nicely.  Dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap.  Shape it into a ball, then cover it with another piece of plastic wrap, flatten it into a disk, then wrap up the disk with the excess plastic and stick it in the fridge for an hour or overnight (I did overnight.).

Line a rimless baking sheet (or the underside of a cookie sheet) with parchment paper and set aside.

Using a lightly floured pastry cloth and a rolling pin sleeve (essential, essential, essential for pastry rolling ease! Go get them!!!), roll the dough disk out to be 12-13 inches in diameter.  Don't worry if the dough isn't in a perfect circle (I suck at perfect circles.).  Using the edge of the pastry mat, flip an edge of the dough over the rolling pin, then spin your rolling pin, wrapping the dough around the cylinder.  Move it over to the parchment-lined baking sheet, place the pin at the edge of the baking sheet, and unroll your dough onto the baking sheet.  Stick the dough in the fridge while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with the rack in the middle of your oven.

Filling Ingredients and Prep:
3 heaping cups frozen blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries
3 Tblsp. sugar
2 Tblsp. flour + 1 Tblsp. flour
2 Tblsp. slivered unsalted butter + 1 Tblsp. melted unsalted butter

In a medium bowl, dump the berries, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of flour.  Toss with a fork to coat as best as you can.

Pull the dough out of the fridge.  I trimmed mine into a very rough circle with a rolling pastry trimmer (I told you I'm horrible at circles).  Sprinkle the dough with the 1 tablespoon of flour.  Dump the berries on top of the flour, leaving a 2-inch-ish border.  Smooth the berry mound and rearrange as necessary to make the mound fairly even.

Fold a small section of the pastry edge up over the base of the berry mound with your left hand.  Hold your fold there, then move your right hand to the right a few inches and fold the next section of dough up with your right hand, lightly pressing down the pleat that is formed by the two folds with your thumb.  Fold up the next section of dough to the right with your right hand and press the pleat down, etc.  Continue to work your way around the galette, using your thumbs to help you make and press down pleats as you form them.

Top the berries with the slivers of butter, brush the crust with the melted butter, and sprinkle the edges with sugar.  Slide the baking sheet into the oven for 40-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Cool completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack.

And here you go:

The crust is unbelievably flaky, thanks to all the butter.  OMG.  (I just tested a scrap piece sprinkled with cinnamon sugar—thank you, Barb, for that wonderful idea!).

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