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Author Notes: I am reading Thomas McNamee’s "Alice Waters and Chez Panisse" these days, and am finding the experience wholly inspiring, with its simple, evocative treatment of food and life. As a baker, the stories around Lindsey Shere, Chez Panisse's first and most celebrated pastry chef, are particularly poignant, and each recipe I come across I feel the urge to make immediately. Peaches are in season, and on a walk through the GreenMarket in Union Square the other day I couldn’t resist taking home far more than I could eat, and thus, the perfect opportunity to try this galette. This galette is just lovely – simple, beautiful, and perfect to feature fruit at its freshest and most flavorful. There’s nothing overwrought or in-the-way about this tart. It’s just about the fruit. Plus, it’s easy to adapt to the size you want or the fruit you have, and lends itself to endless variation (berries? apricots? peach and sage? plum and mint?). Stone fruits, though, as Lindsey notes, are ideal. They caramelize beautifully and hold up well to the form. The peaches here practically melted, for a sweet mouthful of late summer with just the perfect touch of crunch from an unassuming crust. A gorgeous tart - perfect especially for those who think fruit is always better as itself. —dpm
Serves serves 6 - 8 (easily adaptable)
- Start with a pâte brisée, of whatever size you need for what you’re making. I made a largish one for six people, so for this I used one cup of flour, six tablespoons of cold butter, a pinch of salt and a quarter cup of very cold water. (On another occasion, I doubled this recipe and made 6 smaller tarts - easier to transport to the park, and better crust to fruit ratio!) Crumble the butter into the salted flour quickly so as to not warm the butter too much (I prefer to use our hands, though a pastry blender would work well here). Add the water - the dough will come 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. 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. I peeled my peaches (but wouldn't peel plums or apricots.) For this size, I used a quart of fruit.
- Roll the dough out in a circle. You want it very thin, as thin as possible without tearing. Transfer to 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. If you have one, put it in the oven now, as you preheat to 400F. (FYI: I don't have a stone, and had no complaints on crispiness.)
- Make a mixture of equal parts sugar and flour – for this size and amount of fruit I 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 macarons, which I 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 you'll need to judge - my peaches were very sweet, so I only use three tablespoons or so. Tarter fruit, or fruit that becomes tart when cooked, might take more. Or perhaps your taste tends towards sweeter. 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 sprinkle them heavily with sugar, so it’s well-coated. The sugar will caramelize in the oven and give your galette a beautiful toasted sheen (far better than an egg wash, and besides, as the dough has no sugar of its own, it's a necessary layer.)
- Bake your tart for 40 - 50 minutes. It might take more or less, depending on how soft and thin your fruit. I suggest you rotate the tart at 20 minutes, and check it periodically after that. (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. And voila!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for A&M Smackdown / Your Best Peach Pie or Tart