Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Strawberry Galette

I love making free-form tarts, such as crostatas and galettes. I'm not even 100% sure what the difference is between the two terms, but I think it's rather unimportant when faced with something so simple yet extraordinary. Generally, these pastries utilize flaky pie dough as opposed to a crisper and sweeter tart dough. They are baked on a sheet pan with the crust simply folded over the edges of the usually rustic filling. It almost looks like a pizza.

In fact, when we served this galette recently on my aunt's boat, we enjoyed it just like a pizza, eating it with our hands in a very unsophisticated manner. Whether you use your hands or a fork, this galette truly showcases the flavor and fragrance of summer. When you pull it from the oven, it smells just like homemade strawberry jam!

This recipe uses my favorite pie crust, although you can easily use another recipe for the crust if you don't believe me that this one is the best (it is, just trust me). The strawberries are arranged in a pretty pattern over the dough, making this otherwise rustic tart much more elegant.

If you don't have heavy cream, you can definitely brush egg wash around the edges of the crust, but I sometimes feel like it's a waste of a whole egg for just a little bit of brushing, and heavy cream works really well too, with just a slightly paler result.

Strawberry Galette
Makes one approximately 10-inch galette

1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup very cold water
1 1/2 cups + 1 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 2 1/2 T. unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small cubes

1 pound strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
About 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Start by making the crust. In a small bowl add the salt to the water and stir to dissolve. Keep cold in the refrigerator.

In a food processor, put the flour in the work bowl and add the small butter cubes, scattering all over. Pulse briefly until the mixture forms large crumbs and some of the butter is still the size of peas. Add the water-salt mixture and pulse for several seconds until the dough begins to come together in a ball. You should still be able to see some butter chunks.

On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a disk 1 inch thick. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight (this dough can now be frozen in a freezer bag and then defrosted in the refrigerator the day before it is to be used).

Place the chilled dough on a floured surface and roll out to 1/8-to-1/4-inch thick, lifting and rotating the dough to make sure it doesn't stick, and working quickly to ensure the dough stays as cold as possible. Add more flour to the board as needed.

Place the dough round on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill the dough while preparing the strawberries.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Thinly slice the strawberries, reserving the end pieces for another use (although you may need a few of them depending on how you arrange your strawberry slices in the filling).Toss the strawberry slices with 1/4 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch, then immediately arrange them in concentric circles on the dough, starting 1-inch from the edge. Overlap the slices slightly. If you need to, you can use a few of the prettiest strawberry edge pieces as well, just toss them in the sugar/cornstarch sludge that remains in the bowl.

Fold the edges over the berries and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Brush the pastry edges with heavy cream and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. Dot the berries with the butter and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.


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