Thursday, July 8, 2010

Get thee a galette!

Berry season is in full swing here in New York, which means fresh blueberries are abundant. The berries are at the height of their goodness: they're firm and sweet and just a tad tart. And while berries from southern New England and the Midatlantic don't get the magnificently wild tang that graces berries from Maine, ours are still pretty darn good.

When faced with a pile of in-season fruit of any variety, my first instinct, typically, is to bake a tart. This time around, it's a blueberry galette, a free-form tart very similar to the strawberry-rhubarb crostata I made back in the beginning of June. Instead of individually sized tarts, here I've made one large dessert to serve a group of four or five, but it's just as easy to make as the crostata, and just as fun to eat.

I've seasoned the tart with my favorite combination for blueberries: sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, along with a dotting of butter and a hint of salt. The butter and vanilla lend the berries richness, while the cinnamon adds a spice to heighten their tart nature. Once you add all that, you will, of course, need a bit of sweetened whipped cream to cut through it.

Am I right?

Blueberry Galette

For the pastry:

1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup polenta
2 tsp. granluated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, very cold or frozen, cut into 1/2-inch bits
3 tbs. ice water

For the filling:
1 pint of blueberries, rinsed and dried
2 tbs. turbinado sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tbs. butter, cut into 1/4-inch bits

1 egg, beaten with a tablespoon of cold water
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Place the flour, polenta, sugar salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse together until the mixture is mealy and most of the butter is about the size of small peas. With the processor running, stream the water in one teaspoon at a time until the mixture begins to come together in one or two big clumps. You may not need all the water, depending on the humidity in your ingredients and the air. (Alternately, you can make the pastry in a medium bowl, using a pastry blender. A food processor is super-fast, but a pastry blender works well, too. Make sure to chill the bowl ahead of time.)

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and mold into a large disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Let the dough rest for at least an hour; it can sit in the fridge for up to 36 hours before you use it.

When you're ready to make the filling and bake the galette, take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit; this will help take the chill off a bit. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the blueberries in a medium bowl and add the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Toss to combine evenly, and set aside while you roll out the pastry.

Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper and place the dough in its center. Flour your pin and use it to whack the disk of pastry once or twice, then start rolling it out from the middle outward, spinning it if you need to, until you have a roughly circular shape about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the crust (on the parchment paper) to a cookie sheet.

Spoon the filling into the middle of the tart, leaving about two inches of crust as a border. Starting anywhere you'd like, fold the pastry up over the filling. Continue to fold in triangles as you go around the tart (Refer to the photo above; it's easy to do once you take a look at a finished version, I think.) until all the edges are folded over the filling, leaving a nice circle of pretty fruit exposed. Using a pastry brush, paint the crust with the beaten egg; this will give it a nice sheen. Dot the exposed filling with the butter.

Place the tart in the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes, depending on your oven, rotating the tart halfway through baking. Bake until golden-brown and bubbly; the crust may leak some juices, but should hold up pretty well in any case, despite the liquid. Once the tart is done, remove it from the oven and transfer it, on its parchment paper, to a cooling rack. Cool close to completely before slicing. Serve topped with whipped cream.

Serves four to five, generously.

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