Locavore Lovin’ from the Oven: Ode to the Plum

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words and photos by Lia Pietrolungo

 

Every summer I get hooked on pies. I make as many meals in pie-form as a I possibly can. Given my bias towards anything pie-related, it’s absolutely no surprise that I was considering making one for this article. Most tragically, I decided to swear off pastry-making for the foreseeable future after a run in with a particularly unruly dough.

That is, however, until I came across a picture of a perfectly baked cherry galette on my Instagram newsfeed. I literally gasped at its beauty and resolved to get my tush back in the kitchen before sundown.

A galette is a somewhat rustic, absolutely forgiving free form pastry that is baked directly on a cookie sheet. Before baking, the edges of the pastry dough are turned up to hug the filling just right. A galette can bubble over, singe, or crack and still be stunning. Either way, it’ll be downright delicious.

Since cherries are heading out of season (fare thee well, sweet rubies!), I decided to get my hands on another tasty stone fruit: the plum.

The plum itself has a sweet, stand alone flavor that plays well with a buttery crust and citrus. I added a dash of cardamom — my favorite spice — in this recipe as well. I try to include it in as many baked goods as possible! A word of caution, however: cardamom has the potential to ruin a dish if used carelessly.

Cardamom’s complexity lies in its delicate balance between a floral, herbal, and slightly minty flavor. Too much will overwhelm your taste buds and drown out the subtleties of the plums. Half a teaspoon will suffice if you’re familiarizing yourself with this spice.

I like my galette a bit tart so I decided to keep the sugar low in this recipe. If you like it sweet, feel free to up the sugar, or add a splash of maple syrup to your plums before arranging them on the dough.

For the dough, I decided to stick with one of my favorite recipes for a double crust, which I’ve used before in Locavore Lovin’. The cake flour helps to create a flakier, more tender crust, while using both butter and vegetable shortening ensures a flavorful crust that holds up beautifully in fruit pies. There are a few different ways to make a pastry crust: by hand, in a food processor, or in an electric mixer. I typically make mine by hand and use a pastry blender or my fingers to cut in the solid fats. It’s absolutely up to you how you’d like to go about this. Wrap the unused dough in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months.

After rolling out the dough, it’s essential to add a layer of finely ground nuts and flour to avoid a soggy crust. I opted for almonds and semolina flour in this recipe. When it comes to lining pastry dough in a galette, I prefer the subtly sweet, nutty flavor of semolina flour over all-purpose flour.

The beauty of a galette is its versatility. You can fill it with pluots, cherries, peaches, pears, or even try your hand at a savory filling.

Happy baking, friends!

 

For the crust: (makes a double crust)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

1 tablespoon granulated or coconut sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening

¼ to ½ cup ice water

 

1)      In a large bowl, whisk together both flours and the salt.

2)      Incorporate the shortening using a pastry cutter or your fingers. You’ll want the mixture to resemble small peas. Place in refrigerator if the shortening is too soft.

3)      Using the pastry cutter, incorporate the butter. You’ll want larger bits of butter along with the smaller ones. This ensures a flaky finished product since more steam will be trapped in the pockets that the butter creates as it melts while baking.

4)      Add a few tablespoons of the ice water and toss to dampen the flour mixture. Add additional water a few tablespoons at a time until it comes together in doughy-yet-crumbly chunks. It is ready if it holds together when you squeeze it in your hands.

5)      Turn the dough out onto parchment paper, waxed paper or a lightly floured surface. Separate the dough and form it into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or overnight.

Rolling out the dough:

1)      Remove one disk of dough from the fridge and allow to rest until it’s soft enough to roll but still cold.

2)      Turn out onto parchment, waxed paper, or a lightly floured surface. Roll out to about ⅛ inch.

3)      Refrigerate for twenty minutes. This ensures that the fat remains cold for a flaky crust.

4)      Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.

 

For the filling:

 

2 lbs plums, pitted and cut into ½ inch wedges

5 tbsp ground almonds or walnuts

4 tbsp semolina flour

2 tsp cornstarch

No more than 1 tsp of cardamom (optional)

Lemon zest to taste

¼  cup sugar, divided, plus 1 tsp

3 generous pats of butter

Splash of milk

Powdered sugar for dusting

 

1)     Preheat the oven to 400°. Remove the rolled dough from the fridge and let it settle on the counter while you prepare the filling.

2)     Combine the ¼ cup of sugar with the ground nuts, cornstarch, flour, and optional cardamom. Toss together or pulse in a food processor, then spread the mixture evenly over the rolled dough, leaving a 2-2 ½ inch border to fold up later.

3)      Arrange the plums evenly over the flour mixture (remember not to overfill the pastry — there may be some plums left over, which is totally ok.) Dot the plums with butter and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and lemon zest.

4)      Fold up the edges of the pastry over the filling to create a 2 inch crust. Brush the edge with milk and sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of sugar.

5)      Bake for 1 hour in the middle of the oven or until the fruit juices bubble thickly and the crust is nicely browned. Do not remove before the juices are bubbling. This will leave your galette soggy and most dissatisfying.

6)      Cool the galette on the pan to room temperature before serving. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with a scoop of ice cream, whipped cream, or crème fraîche.

 

Enjoy!

 

Fellow locavores can find ingredients for this recipe at the Countryside Farmers Market at Highland Square and the Highland Square Mustard Seed. The Countryside Farmers Market at Highland Square is open Thursdays from 4 pm until 7 pm at Conger Ave. and W. Market St., Akron. Bring your baskets and load up on your favorite seasonal produce!

 

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