Previous Lives, Fruit Galettes, and Strawberry Jam
As a baker, I would often go through cases of butter each night. Layering fat in between fine flours to create the perfect croissant, mixing chocolate and egg to create decadent flourless cakes, building tarts from lemon and sweet berries. Creating beautiful, decadent, artery plugging desserts to be eaten quietly, and likely with eyes closed. My mom would call such food TBOs: Taste Bud Orgasms (when I was a kid this embarrassed me to no end).
My baking has since become a lot less fussy, quite a bit healthier, and much more attuned to the seasonal availability of ingredients.
Galettes are rustic, free-form fruit pies that can be quickly thrown together, baked for 30-45 minutes, and eaten straight from hand. They can be as simple as you want, and as creative as you dream. For mine, I use a mix of whole wheat pastry and unbleached flour, real unsalted butter, a bit of cold water, an egg for brushing the crust, whatever fruit is sitting on the counter, and sometimes a little coarse, raw sugar.
This time of year the fruit I seem to have on hand are strawberries fresh from the farmers’ market. Rhubarb is also popping up, and combined they make for a beautiful galette that can be eaten as dessert after a dinner of local eggs, asparagus, and field greens. Or if you’re like me, for breakfast with milky coffee. This one is best done while sitting barefoot on the porch, wiggling toes in spring breezes.
One tip for making the perfect galette. The best fruits are juicy. Juice on top of uncooked dough can lead to soggy crusts. This is bad. We want crusts that shatter when a fork looks at them sideways. To avoid the sog, spread a thin layer of jam over the dough to create a juice barrier before piling on your fruit. Any flavor of jam will do, I often choose apricot, but in the dessert above nothing can beat fresh strawberry-lemon jam.
Jam is basically crushed fruit, fruit juice, and sugar boiled together to create something not quite as jiggly as jelly, but still sticky and spreadable. I use this jam fast, so don’t usually end up canning it, but it can be done. For information on safe canning practices and instructions, check out the new Food Preservation Community.
Pint of fresh strawberries
Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 -1/2 cup sugar.
Put everything in a small sauce pan. With a wooden spoon mush up the berries to get some juice in the pan. Cook over medium heat. Be careful, the fruit might spit at you. Stir often. Lower heat and let the fruit reduce in the pan. Continue stirring often. If it’s not setting up and starting to look a bit like Smuckers, add a little more sugar. It will continue to solidify as it cools. When it looks done it’s done. Trust yourself. Let cool before using/eating/serving.
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