Pear Crostata

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Galettes are delicious flaky free form french tarts. This galette dough, published by Alice Waters but which she attributes to Jacque Pepin is easy, delicious and versatile. You can fill the dough with nearly anything you want, sweet or savory, from apples to zucchini. For this particular recipe I’m sharing, I took a journey back into my childhood for inspiration.

This recipe really brings me back to when I was a child. My mom makes a lot of amazing desserts, but there is one in particular that always fills the house with a tantalizing sweet aroma: poached pears. I’m also a little sentimental about the pears because they were the only dessert with fruit I would eat until I was 10. I know poached pears doesn’t seem that exciting, but my mom made them in a unique way. She would poach the pears in a simple syrup with vanilla, lemon, and a hint of star anise and serve it with a homemade chestnut gelato. The 3 bold flavors perfectly blended with the sweet earthy flavor of the pears.  This flavor is what I recreated for my galette filling.

Daniel

INGREDIENTS:

  • For Dough
  • 1 cup (4.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 5 tablespoons ice water
  • For filling and topping Galette
  • 1 tablespoon roasted ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup superfine plus 3 tablespoons of sanding sugar (the larger crystals resist melting and add a nice crunch)
  • 1 tablespoon of pulverized amaretti
  • 10 ounces galette dough, rolled into a 14-inch circle and chilled
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds ripe pears
  • Zest from ½ lemon
  • ½ Vanilla bean scraped
  • 1/8 tsp ground star anise
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • A little apple jelly (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine the 4.5 ounces of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl.
  1. Cut in 4 tablespoons of the butter with a pastry blender, mixing until the dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Cut in the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter until the biggest pieces are the size of chickpeas.
  2. Dribble 3.5 tablespoons of ice water into the flour mixture, tossing lightly with one hand and mixing between additions, until the dough just holds together. Do squeeze the dough, or it will toughen. Keep tossing the mixture until it starts to pull together; it will look rather ropy, with some dry patches. If it looks like the dry patches outnumber the ropy parts, add another tablespoon of water and toss until it comes together. Form into a ball then press into a flat disk, about 1/2″ thick and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. The dough will keep in the freezer for a few weeks.
  1. When you are ready to roll out the dough, take from the refrigerator. Let it soften slightly so that it is malleable but still cold. Unwrap the dough and press the edges of the disk so that there are no cracks. Rub some flour into a silicone mat and roll out the disk into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. If at any time the dough becomes to soft and starts to stick, pick up the mat, place it on a sheet pan and pop it into the freezer for a minute. Brush off excess flour with a soft bench brush or pastry brush.  Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate at least 1/2 hour before using. Rolled-out dough may be frozen and used the next day.IMG_0143Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a pizza stone, if you have one, on a lower rack so it heats up with the oven.
  1. Toss the ground almonds, flour, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and pulverized amaretti together.
  1. Remove the prerolled dough from the refrigerator or freezer. Sprinkle the almond-amaretti powder evenly over the pastry, leaving a 1 and 1/2-inch border uncoated.
  1. Peel, remove the stem from the pears and sprinkle a little lemon juice on them. Using a mandolin, cut pears into ¼ inch slices lengthwise. Remove core with a round cookie cutter.  So, what you will have is pear shaped slices with the core removed.IMG_0145Arrange the fruit in concentric circles on the dough, so that the edge of the second pear slice covers the cut out whole in the first one, making a single layer of snugly touching pieces, leaving the border bare.
  1. Mix ¼ cup of sugar with the lemon zest, vanilla, and star anise. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over the fruit.
  2. While rotating the tart, fold the border of exposed dough up and over itself at regular intervals, creating a thin rustic looking border. Brush the border with melted butter, and sprinkle it with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
  3. Bake in the lower third of the oven on the preheated pizza stone for about 45 to 50 minutes, until the crust is well browned and its edges are slightly caramelized. As soon as the galette is out of the oven, use a large metal spatula to slide it onto a cooling rack, to keep it from getting soggy. Let cool for 20 minutes. If you want to glaze the tart, brush the fruit lightly with a little warmed apple jelly. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or Creme Fraiche.

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This recipe can be done with any number of fruits. In Late August and early Septembe, it’s always Fig Fest at my house. We all love the look of figs and their subtle earthy flavor. Mom makes Fig/Earl Gray preserves, fig tarts, fig cookies and figs stuffed with gorgonzola and walnuts. For the fig tart simply omit the sugar for the filling and use 1/4 cup fig preserves instead.

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Berries release a lot of juice so we usually mix them with a stone fruit but let your imagination be your guide. Nectarines with a handful of blackberries are a nice combo.

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Apricots with a drizzle of honey is also nice. Italian prune plums (Stanley plums) are wonderful. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of star anise and the inside of one vanilla bean to the 1/4 cup of sugar.

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Sour cherries are very juicy and require some special handling. We pit them, put them in an oven safe dish with a bit of Kirsh and bakes at 350 for about 5 minutes until they release some juice. Take the juice and boil it down until it’s syrupy. Let the cherries come to room temperature toss the berries with the reduced juice and proceed with the rest of the recipe.

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