I’ve been craving strawberries in the worst way lately. Late March, the trees are budding, and the supermarket is full of asparagus, spring onions, rhubarb, and strawberries. Not that any of that really grows in Massachusetts yet. I finally gave in and bought a quart of giant, not so flavorful, strawberries from California for a “pretend it’s spring” dessert. My strategy for making winter fruit taste more like itself (and less like watery cardboard) is to use a little jam. A smear of strawberry jam under the fruit lends a little intensity and sweetness to these galettes. A galette is simply a rustic free-form tart. I love making galettes at home because you don’t need any special equipment – just a rolling pin and a pan. This recipe is adapted from Tartine, by by Elizabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson.
Some Notes on Making Flakey Pastry: The only tricks to making flakey pastry dough are 1. Don’t overwork the dough – leave the butter in pea size chunks. You want visible pieces of butter in the final product. See the photo below. 2. Keep everything very cold – this just makes it easier to avoid melting the butter completely into the dough. Those big pieces of butter are what gives the dough its flake. The cold butter pieces melt when they hit the heat from the oven, and the water in them turns to steam which pushes against the dough to make little pockets and give the dough its texture.
Some people swear by shortening or lard to make flakey pie dough. I grew up eating pastry made with lard, and it’s definitely flakey, but I just prefer the flavor of butter. A lard dough is nice as a topping for chicken pot pie or another savory stew, but for sweet pies, tarts, and galettes, I always use butter. I avoid shortening because it’s made with hydrogenated oils and, besides not being so good for you, it’s not so tasty.
For the Flakey Pastry
3 cups/ 454g all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup/ 150g very cold water
1 cup + 5 tbsp/300g unsalted butter (cold and cubed)
Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Roughly cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives. You want the mixture to be crumbly with visible pieces of large butter showing. Alternatively, place the flour, salt, sugar, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using the paddle attachment, mix until the butter is broken and the mixture looks crumbly with large pieces of butter still visible. Slowly drizzle the water into the flour mixture. Mix until the dough comes together in a shaggy ball. You may not need all the water*, so go slow. Dump out the dough on the counter and form it into two rounds. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.
*Some fun facts: Flour loses it’s moisture as it ages, so depending on how long your flour’s been sitting in your pantry or on your grocer’s shelf, it will absorb more or less water. Also, the more the butter is worked into the flour, the less water the flour will absorb because the butter coats the flour and prevents it from absorbing water.
For the Filling and Assembly
2 quarts strawberries, hulled, washed, and roughly chopped (or another fruit of your choice)
1/2 cup good quality strawberry jam (or another kind)
sugar to taste
1 egg, beaten with a little water to make a wash
You can easily substitute any fruit for the strawberries. Stone fruits like peaches and plums can be used raw as well as any kind of berry, but I like to sautee apples an pears briefly first with a little butter and brown sugar. If it’s summer and fruit is flavorful, omit the jam. The Tartine book suggests sweetening each galette to taste, which makes a lot of sense given the difference in sweetness from one fruit and one season to another. So, taste your fruit and adjust the amount of sugar depending.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove one ball of dough from the fridge. If you’re making small galettes, divide the dough into 4 pices and shape each into a disk. Working on a floured surface, roll each disk into a rough circle and place on a sheetpan lined with parchment paper. Smear 1 tbsp jam in the center of each piece of dough and mound about 2/3 cup strawberries on top of the jam. Fold the sides of the dough around the strawberries and pinch at each corner. Repeat with the remaining dough (to make another 4 small galettes.)
To make 2 larger galettes, simply form each ball of dough into one disc and, again on a floured surface, roll into a rough circle. Place on a sheet pan lines with parchment paper. Smear 1/4 cup jam onto the center of the dough and mound half the strawberries on top of the jam. Fold the sides of the dough around the berries and pinch each of the corners.
Chill the galettes until ready to bake or wrap well and freeze for up to 1 week.
Just before baking, brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle each galette with a little sugar (I did about 1-1 1/2 tsp for my winter berries.)
Bake for 40-50 min for the small and 45-60 minutes for the large. Add 10 min to the time if you’re baking from frozen. The galettes should be golden brown and bubbling. To make sure the bottoms are brown, gently lift one of the galettes with an offset spatula or butter knife and peek underneath.