Saturday, June 16, 2007

Rhubarb & Strawberry Galette

I was inspired to bake this when I saw a picture of this galette in my local newspaper. I'm always attracted to vibrant colors in clothing, and food is no exception. The beautiful jewel color of the strawberries and rhubarb contrasts and just pops against the earthy brown crust. Galettes are great because they aren't supposed to 'look' perfect. They're rustic, homey, and down-to-earth. When made well, they taste amazing.

This recipe, while shared in the newspaper, originally comes from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Remolif Shere. The focus of the article was not so much the desserts but about under privileged youth learning about how to eat well and cook on farm where they use local fresh ingredients. I was totally impressed by the kids, the farm, and the food they make. It was completely inspiring it (this is where the Halleluah song comes in). Having never made a galette and with strawberries in season, I was up for a challenge.

This galette is amazing. It's both sweet and tart, it's sassy, it's gorgeous. It tastes even more amazing than it looks. It's like a hot man/woman that has an even more amazing personality.

The recipe below is presented as it was written up in the newspaper. It mostly worked but I had to modify it to make the crust work better. But if you can get it to work, this is one FINE crust. It's crispy, flaky, buttery and all the things one would desire in a crust. After spending about 24 hours in a fridge, it was still pretty crispy. Two days later, still crispy, still great.

The Dough
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-3/4 tsp kosher salt
-15 T chilled unsalted butter, in small pieces (1/4 inch cubes works for me)
-1/4 cup ice water

The Filling
-1 1/4 pounds rhubarb (enough for approx. 3 3/4 cups)
-1 pint strawberries
-1 cup sugar
-2 1/2 T all-purpose flour
-1 egg yolk whisked with 1 tsp water
-Coarse decorating sugar

To make the dough, put the flour and salt in the food process and pulse to blend (why is this even necessary?). Add the butter and pulse until all the butter pieces are coated with flour and are about the size of large peas (about 10 1-second pulses). Do not over blend.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the water with a fork, mixing until the dough just begins to come together. With one hand, knead it briefly, just until you can collect the dough in a single shaggy mass. Resist the temptation to add more water. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and press it into the shape of a large round hamburger patty. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

This recipe did not call for enough water at all. After I put in 1/4 cup, it was dry and wouldn't come together in a "single shaggy mess." It was just shaggy all over. I probably added another 1/4 to 1/2 cup (1/2 to 3/4 cup total), and while it came together a bit more, I still felt it was not what it was supposed to be. But I avoided the temptation to add any more water and packed it up in the fridge over night.

In the morning, it was still dry so I added a bit more water and dampened my hands, and squished the down together. Not too much but enough to bring it together in a shaggy mass.

Anyway, preheat oven to 425 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it on a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat for 30 minutes. I do not have a baking stone and I still put it on the lower third of the oven.

Remove the dough from the fridge and let it soften for about 15 minutes so it will be easier to roll.

To make the filling, trim the ends of the rhubarb stalks, and the cut stalks into 1/3 inch-wide slices. Hull the strawberries and chop medium fine (I just sliced them). In a large bowl, toss the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and flour until well blended.

Roll the galette dough into a 15-inch circle between two large sheets of parchment paper. If the dough threatens to stick to the paper, lift off the paper and dust the dough lightly with flour. This will definitely happen so just flour everything well before starting to roll it out.

Transfer the dough, still between sheets of parchment paper, to a rimless baking sheet. Remove the top sheet of paper. Top the dough with filling, spreading it evenly but keeping it about 2 inches from the edge. Working quickly, slide a chef's knife or spatula (in my case) under the edge of the dough and fold it over the filling to make a wide border all around. Be fastidious about patching cracks in the dough or the filing will leak out.

Brush the rim of the dough with the egg wash (I didn't have an egg so I used milk). This is purely cosmetic so you can skip it. Sprinkle the rim generously with coarse sugar. Course sugar is decorative and can be expensive. A small jar (think the size of a bottle of herbs) costs $5. Puh-lease. It's sugar that is not granulated, not anything fancy shmancy so don't buy it. Instead, I used raw cane sugar which is of course, much cheaper
(2 lbs costs $3.5o), gets the job done, and tastes better with the crust and the filling.

If you're using a baking stone, slide the galette, still on the parchment paper, directly onto the baking stone. If you are not using a baking stone, bake the galette on a rimless baking sheet.

Bake until the crust is well browned and the filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes. Slide the galette onto a rack to cool. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

FYI, to appropriately work up an appetite for such a decadent dessert, it really does help to smack a few (or in my case A LOT) of golf balls while pretending it's your least favorite person's head. It really does work up a healthy appetite and opens the heart and mind to something so sweet and perfect.

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