TasteFood by Lynda Balslev

Galette: A Rustic Free-form Tart That Everyone Can Make

I am not a patient baker. My desserts tend to be free-form, which, in my case, is a polite way of saying messy and imprecise.

Fortunately for me, there is a place in the dessert world for my arguably “rustic” desserts. I call it my sweet spot (pun intended). This includes crisps, crumbles, cobblers, galettes and crostatas, which are a group of homey desserts that show off the season’s best fruit, usually in the company of some sort of pastry dough or streusel.

This galette is a perfect example -- it’s a free-form tart, which also goes by the name "crostata” in the Italian realm of desserts. Unlike a traditional tart or pie, a baking dish is not required. The spiced fruit filling is simply mounded into the center of the pastry dough, and then the pastry edges are gathered and folded around the filling, leaving the top exposed. The result is a golden crust cocooning a bubbling center of oozing fresh fruit.

Now, that’s my kind of dessert. Try this one on for your Thanksgiving holiday.

Pear and Cranberry Galette

Active Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, plus chilling time

Yield: Serves 6

Pastry dough:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup ice water

Filling:

4 ripe but not-too-soft pears, such as Anjou or Bartlett, peeled and cored, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 cup fresh cranberries

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons almond meal, divided

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 egg, lightly whisked

Make the pastry dough: Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse once or twice to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal and the butter is pea-sized. Add the water and pulse until the dough just comes together. Transfer the dough to a work surface and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling out.

Roll out the dough on a piece of parchment paper into a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter. (It does not have to be perfect!) Slide the dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the pears, cranberries, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons almond meal, the lemon juice, orange zest, cardamom and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir to combine.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon almond meal over dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Mound the fruit over the almond meal. Fold the borders up and around the fruit. Lightly brush the dough with the egg and sprinkle the galette with the 1 tablespoon sugar.

Transfer the galette to the oven and bake until the crust is golden and the fruit is tender and bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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