Recipes showcase nectarines

August 24, 2018

After collecting a quart of nectarines from Bennett Orchards at the Historic Lewes Farmers Market, I wanted to find a recipe that would showcase these colorful, juicy beauties. Of course, we tossed slices over cereal and puréed chunks into smoothies, but I wanted to make something for dessert. Allow me to introduce you to the galette.

The term galette comes from the French word galet, which translates to smooth, flat pebble. Unlike a pebble, the galette is a flat, round pastry typically filled with fruit. Galettes are the rustic cousins of elegant tarts – those shallow, straight-sided filled pastries without a top crust, typically made in a scalloped-edged tart pan.

Free-form galettes include a single crust of buttery pastry, mounded with slices of fresh fruit. Instead of covering the contents with a second crust, the edges are simply folded over to contain the juices (see photo). There are a few tricks to making a galette, starting with a few surprising ingredients in the crust.

First is apple cider vinegar; its acidity makes the dough easier to roll out, which helps avoid over-handling, leaving the crust perfectly tender. The second ingredient is vodka. When you add ice water to your dough, you activate the gluten in the flour; by replacing some of the water with vodka you can reduce the amount of water and still hydrate the dough, leaving it flakey (the alcohol evaporates when you bake the galette).

Before assembling your pastry dough, make sure the butter and liquids are chilled. This keeps the butter from liquifying too soon, allowing tiny lumps to become trapped in the flour, creating a rich, buttery texture when the crust is baked. Process the dough as little as possible, either with your hands or a food processor, leaving the bits of butter the size of peas.

Some recipes call for a layer of cream-cheese custard or thickened applesauce between the crust and the fruit filling to keep the juices from making the crust too soggy. I’ve tried this and found the result muddied the fresh flavor of the fruit. Instead, stir in a thickening agent to the sliced fruit, which keeps the filling juicy and gives it a silky texture.

Another tip to keep in mind: everything shrinks. The mound of fruit on your unbaked galette may seem too big. It’s not. As the fruit bakes, it releases its juices and shrinks in size. The same is true of the crust itself, as you can see from the photo, where I didn’t leave a large enough margin of dough to fold up over the fruit (it still tasted great). 

The finishing touch for your galette is an egg wash on the crust (something I forgot in the nectarine galette in the photo). An egg wash is a mixture of egg whisked with a liquid, such as water, milk or cream. The fat from the egg yolk adds a glossy sheen to the crust, and the protein in the egg white enhances browning.

I’ve included two recipes for galette. The sweet version can be made with just about any fruit: nectarine, peach, strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, or a colorful combination. The savory galette is an elegant way to serve zucchini and tomato. The most attractive quality of a galette is how easy it is to assemble, the perfect dessert for a dinner party or main course for a fancy brunch.

Butter Pastry 

8 oz unsalted butter 
1/4 C vodka, chilled 
2 T apple cider vinegar, chilled 
2 T water, chilled 
2 1/2 C flour 
1 t salt 
2 T sugar (optional) 

Slice the butter into 1 T pieces on a plate. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Measure the flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the chilled butter and pulse a few times until the butter is the size of peas. Add the vodka, vinegar and 1 T water; pulse 2 or 3 times to mix. Squeeze the dough with your hands to see if it comes together into a ball. If so, it is ready; if not, add another 1 T water and pulse. Turn the dough out onto a flat surface and form it into a disc. Cut the dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. When you’re ready to make the galette, remove 1 portion of crust from the fridge and let it soften for 10 minutes; the dough should still be cold but malleable. Yield: 2 pastry crusts. 

Nectarine Filling 

6 ripe nectarines 
1 T cornstarch 
2 T lemon juice 
1 t vanilla 
2 T sugar 
pinch salt 

Slice each nectarine in half and remove the pit. Cut each half into 1/4-inch thick slices. In a mixing bowl, combine nectarines with remaining ingredients. Toss gently. 

Egg Wash 

1 egg 
1 T milk 

Whisk together until thoroughly combined.  Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the pie dough into a circle 12 inches in diameter. Place the circle of pastry dough on prepared baking sheet. Starting from the middle, arrange the sliced nectarines in overlapping circles, mounding slightly at the center and leaving a 2-inch border from the edge. Fold the border of the pastry over the fruit, fluting as needed. Brush the pastry with egg wash. Bake until the crust is golden, about 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer galette to a baking rack to cool. Yield: 8 servings.

Zucchini Galette 

1 zucchini 
1/2 pt cherry tomatoes 
1 t herbes de Provence 
1 butter pastry crust 
1/2 C ricotta cheese 
1/4 t salt 
1/4 t pepper 
1 t lemon zest 
1 egg 
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese 
1 T milk 
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick slices and place on baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with herbes de Provence. Halve the tomatoes and place on baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with herbes de Provence. Roast zucchini and tomato until softened, about 15 minutes. Allow vegetables to cool for about 10 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the pastry dough into a circle, about 12 inches in diameter. Place dough on prepared baking sheet; set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together ricotta, salt, pepper, lemon zest, 1 egg and 1/4 C Parmesan cheese, stirring until blended. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the pastry circle, leaving a 2-inch border. Arrange the zucchini slices on the ricotta in overlapping circles; scatter tomato halves over zucchini. Fold the edges of the pastry over the filling. Whisk together egg and milk. Brush the pastry generously with egg wash. Sprinkle entire galette with remaining 1/4 C Parmesan cheese. Bake until golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 4 servings.