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Too much of a good thing

August 15, 2010
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In terms of produce, our options for the freshest are at their highest during the summer season.  We love sweet corn on the cob, just-picked zucchinis, tomatoes off the vine, and of course all the juicy fruit that we bring into the house by the bucket-load and watch disappear within days.  So if I seem to enjoy taking advantage of this freshness in my cooking, then you may be wondering why all of my blog posts seem to reject that.  You’ve got Nia here with here grilled peaches, juicy plums, and farmer’s market pickles while I’m baking like fall couldn’t come soon enough.  Where are the pies, tarts, crisps, and cobblers that I should be baking?

Well, the truth is, I blame my work.  This time last year I was baking fruit desserts almost every other week but this past May when I landed a job a country store well-known famous for its pies, my appetite for all things that involved fruit with a crust decreased…and that’s a very sad thing.  But can’t you understand that after spending eight hours a day, five days a week baking pies and then dishing them up to eager customers at work, the last thing I’d want to do is come home and start rolling out dough?  Now don’t start putting pictures in you mind that I slave away all day with a rolling pin, a flour dusted apron, and a paring knife in hand, peeling and cutting apples.  No, the pies arrive already assembled but I do spend a good deal of time putting on the finishing touches and baking them up in the oven.  And although they are quite tasty, after baking thousands in the past few months I have found myself a little sick of pie and craving things more along the lines of cake and cookies this summer.  But on Friday I realized that I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t cook at least one fruit dessert for my friends and family this summer.

So to change things up a little, I made a galette instead of pie and used plums, probably the one fruit that is not in any of my work’s pies.  I followed a Martha Stewart Recipe exactly except I used both red and black plums for color variation, instead of just one kind.  It was exceptionally easy yet turned out very elegant and beautiful.  This dessert was definitely a showstopper.  It was much more light and delicate than the pies I make at work and, unlike those, mine was made without any sort of wonky ingredients and preservatives I can’t pronounce.  I also didn’t have that guilty overindulging feeling afterwards, partly because it wasn’t as sickly sweet as most pies.  This of course could be because I accidentally skipped the step where you sprinkle a bit of sugar on the plums before baking, but even if I did see that small detail, the galette would have still had a nice tart aspect that paired amazingly with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Plum Galette

For the crust (pate brisee)

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
½ cup ice water

Using the metal blade, pulse together the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the cubes of butter and continue pulsing until you have small, pea sized pieces of butter in the mixture, and it resembles a coarse meal.  Then, with the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the cold water and continue processing until everything comes together and forms a ball.  Immediately wrap up the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the Galette

1 ball of pate brisee (recipe above)
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
½ cup finely ground toasted hazelnuts
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt
5-6 plums, cut into ¼- ½ inch thick wedges
3 Tbs. granulated sugar (don’t forget this like I did)
1 egg, for eggwash
Jam for glazing (I used apricot because that’s what I had but plum jamwould probably work best)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a cookie sheet pan with parchment paper.  On a lightly floured surface roll out the chilled crust dough into a rectangle until it is about 1/8 inch thick.  Trim the edges so you have a perfect rectangle that is just slightly bigger than your sheet pan.

Use your rolling pin to transfer the dough to the pan.  In a small bowl, mix together the flour, ground hazelnuts, brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Sprinkle this onto the center of your crust, leaving a 2-3 inch border on all sides.  Arrange the plums on the hazelnut mixture, working down in rows and slightly overlapping the plum slices.  Alternate the direction the plums face for each row (see pictures for guidelines).

Sprinkle the plums with the granulated sugar.  Fold the dough on the edges over the plums, pinching the corners together to making sure everything is snug so there won’t be any leaks.  Brush the edges with the egg wash and place the whole pan in the refrigerator.  After 30 minutes in the refrigerator, transfer the pan to the preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Then, reduce the temperature to 400 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes until the edges are brown and the plums bubbly and caramelized.

At difficult as it may be, wait until the galette has cooled for about 1 ½ to 2 hours before eating.  Just before serving, heat the jam in a saucepan until it’s runny and use a pastry brush to glaze the plums with it.

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