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dessert du jour: GALETTES 
by Faith Heinauer 

The French, well known for their rich cuisine, like to end their meals on a lighter note: with a simple, seasonal fruited dessert.  With gardens and markets just bursting now with fresh, flavorful fruits aplenty, summer is the perfect time to try our hands at dessert the French way. So in honor of the French, we’re making galettes – or free-form, open-faced tarts, for those of you aren’t fluent in français.  Made with a flaky pastry dough (which we can thank Pepperidge Farm® for making) and the fruit filling of your choice, galettes are quick, easy, and of course, very, very tasty.  No pie pan, no perfect fluted crust, just free-form and très fabulous! 

Filling | I’ve made galettes with everything from apricots to peaches to apples, but pretty much any fruit works well.  (My one disaster was the attempt at a strawberry galette – the berries proved too watery.)  Go ahead and adapt the fruit filling to whatever happens to be in season.  If the fruit is extra tart, feel free to add an extra tablespoon (or two) of sugar.  The fruit mixture is first cooked on the stove -- to release all those juices and to allow it thicken up – before being encased in the dough and tossed in the oven to bake.

Dough | Because time is ever of the essence – and because you won’t be sacrificing anything in the way of flavor – pre-made puff pastry, available at any supermarket, is the way to go. Puff pastry has a light, tender, flaky texture and consistency… perfect for enclosing a sweet fruit filling.  Don’t be intimidated by the fact that a galette uses puff pastry … we are, after all, cheating just a bit by using purchased puff pastry sheets, so there’s really nothing to it.  Just open the box, pull out a single sheet, let it thaw and then roll it out… easy as pie, right? (Or rather, easy as tart.) 

Folding | With the puff pastry sheet rolled out, you’re ready to fill away. Once the fruit is mounded in the center of the dough, the edges are gently folded up to make a tidy little shell for the filling. The most important thing is to make sure that the edges are firmly pinched shut -- you don’t want all those fruit juices oozing out. Don’t worry if, despite all your careful efforts, a little juice manages to leak out nonetheless.  Because the galette is a “free-form” tart, perfection is out the window.  You’ll end up with a tart that’s au naturel, rather than the sort of primped, crimped and fluted pie you’re probably used to baking.

Helpful hints | If possible, try to line the baking sheet with parchment paper.  Parchment paper is a thick, moisture- and grease-resistant paper that is typically used to line baking pans.  It eliminates the need to grease baking pans, or slave over any dirty pans afterwards (just throw out the sheet when you’re done). If you haven’t used this stuff before, you must get your hands on some – it’s a baker’s best friend. 

Ready to start baking? Try your hand at a galette with this Master Galette Recipe!

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Faith Heinauer is a caterer, cookbook author and head cheese at Bitchin' Kitchen. She's committed to developing quick and sassy ways for folks to work and play with their food. 

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