Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Master Pie With These Easy, Free-Form Crust Recipes

Galettes are the perfect frames for summer's fruit (no pie dish required!).
July 13, 2015
The first time I made a galette, it was a solution to a problem. The problem was a bicycle basket full of very ripe peaches I had picked at an orchard in Bridgehampton, New York. After my ride home, they were so banged up that I had to do something with them, and fast. 
I threw a simple, buttery dough together and baked those bruised but flavorful peaches into a sort of free-form tart. While dessert was sorted out for the day, that problem and its delicious solution turned into a lifelong love affair. 

Whether you call them galettes, crostatas, or just free-form tarts, these are the easiest and most beautiful way to showcase summer fruits at the height of their season. Think of them as frames around nature’s masterpieces. They have an open structure that allows the fruit to shine, colorful and juicy. And, if you have freezer space for them, summer can linger.
The basic technique is easily mastered and infinitely adaptable, and using a food processor, the dough is a snap to make and nearly foolproof. The tarts are purposely misshapen, so even unskilled hands can produce an admirably rustic-looking dessert.
At its best, summer can seem like our most fleeting season. But everything about these galettes is intended to capture your favorite aspects of the hot months, from the lazy-days artistry of the crust to the fruits with their sun-drenched sweetness. Then there’s the way those berries and plums transform lusciously in the intense heat of an oven, just as infatuations seem to blossom into romance under the fire of a summer sun. Me? I’m on that bike again, the smell of ripe peaches leading me home. 
Thankfully, that deep-summer feeling is easy to rekindle: When I want to indulge in a favorite fruit after its season has passed, I take a premade tart from the freezer and warm it in the oven, and for a few delicious moments, it’s July all over again.

6 Tart-Smart Tips

1. Work out the kinks. You need to soften stiff dough so it won’t crack when you’re rolling it out. Hit it a few times with a rolling pin, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes, or massage it with warm hands.
2. Chill out. Though it shouldn’t be too cold, your dough still needs to be cool so it has enough firmness to fold properly over the filling. Return too-soft dough to the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes. After the dough is filled and folded, return the unbaked galette to the fridge to firm it up before baking.
3. It’s all in the fold. The rustic look works for galettes. Don’t feel obligated to carefully pleat the dough. If there’s too much crust covering the fruit, simply tear off dough to expose more fruit.
4. Lose the juice. Extra-ripe fruit can release too much liquid, which escapes the crust and makes the galette stick to the parchment. Pour off excess juice or increase the flour by 1 tablespoon. Run a spatula under the crust as soon as it comes out of the oven.
5. Pick up the paper. To move a large galette to serve, pick up the parchment paper beneath it by opposite corners and, holding firmly, transfer it to a serving platter. Then pull the parchment paper out from beneath. 
6. Experiment. Play around with whatever fruit’s in season in your area. Just use approximately the same amount of fruit (about 2 pounds), sugar to taste (1/3 to 3/4 cup), and thickener as needed (usually 2 to 3 tablespoons).


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