Galette: The best a pastry fan can get

This berry tart is easy and delicious, the perfect home-made dessert to rustle up in summer

Photograph: Harry Weir

Photograph: Harry Weir

 

The term “galette” conjures up lots of different French pastries, crusty cakes and pies. They are usually “open” and round in shape. The exceptions are galette des rois, which is enclosed with a pastry top, and a Breton galette, which is a savoury ham and cheese buckwheat pancake (my favourite street food when in France).

Simple, farmhouse-style cooking invariably appeals to fuss-free cooks. This type of throw-together dessert stands in sharp contrast to so many others you might find in formidable gastronomic tomes. This berry galette is both easy and delicious, the perfect home-made dessert to rustle up in summer when casual entertaining reigns. It is especially useful if you are staying in holiday accommodation without your bakeware arsenal to hand (unless you are one of the many people I know who pack the whole kit and caboodle).

While on holidays you may prefer shop-bought pastry, but making a single batch of pastry is quick and easy, as you can mix the flour and butter together by hand in less than 10 minutes.

Keeping things cool for pastry making during the summer months is the only consideration. In a warm kitchen, I keep the diced butter and flour in the freezer until I am ready to rub them together with my finger tips.

For this galette, avoid frozen fruit as it holds too much moisture. If you don’t have enough fresh berries, you can add some extra chopped apples or peaches. For added flavour add warm spices and perhaps a dash of liqueur (such as Cointreau, Gran Marnier or limoncello).

Freshly baked and hot out of the oven, the delicious golden crust and warm berries make it utterly irresistible served with a scoop of ice cream.

SUMMER BERRY GALETTE

Serves 6

150g plain flour
75g butter, diced small, chilled
20g icing sugar
1 egg
½tsp vanilla extract
 

Berry filling
3tbs raspberry jam (or apricot jam)
2tsp cornflour mixed with 1tbs lemon juice
1tsp lemon zest
400g-500g fresh berries (blackberries, blueberries and raspberries)
1tsp sugar, for sprinkling

To serve
200ml whipped cream or ice cream

Method 

1 To make the pastry, sieve the flour into a bowl. Add the diced butter and rub into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sieve in the icing sugar and stir to combine. Lightly whisk the egg with the vanilla extract and pour two-thirds of it over the flour mixture (the remaining egg will be used to brush over the pastry). Use a dinner knife to mix in the egg before bringing the mixture together with your hands to form a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the dough rest before rolling out. 

2 On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry to a 20cm circle, 2mm thick (thin pastry is important as the pastry only has a short time to cook through). Cut a piece of parchment paper just larger than the circle and transfer the pastry on to it.

3 When ready to bake, preheat oven to 190 degrees fan. Place a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.

4 Gently heat the jam and stir in the cornflour, lemon juice and lemon zest. Leaving a 3cm outer border, spread most of the jam over the pastry, then cover with the berries. Loosen the remaining warm jam with a little more lemon juice and lightly brush over the top of the fruit. 

5 Fold the pastry border inwards over the fruit, leaving the centre uncovered. Brush the exposed pastry with egg wash. Sprinkle with a little sugar. 

6 Slide the filled pastry on to the hot baking sheet and bake in the oven for at least 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Serve hot with freshly whipped cream (or a scoop of ice cream).  

Variation

Don’t limit yourself to sweet galettes. Once you omit the sugar in the pastry, these free-form galettes are delicious with savoury vegetarian fillings topped with farmhouse cheese (any combination of mushrooms, onion, spinach and potato works well). Try cracking an egg in the centre for the last five minutes of baking.

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