After a short hiatus from professional kitchens I am back. Consulting at a local business with simple delicious fare. They need just a bit of help with baking and I am happy to be there. Last week an out going catering job need fruit galettes to feed about 30. A galette is sort of an umbrella term for a free form open-faced tart. Almost any dough will do but the richer the better, I think, because the dessert is basically unadorned it should be unbelievably tasty. When we make simple pairings of just a few flavours, they should all be perfect, at their own personal peak.
According to Greenleaf, a local produce company with an exceptional dedication to Organic and sustainable, seasonal produce and clear communication, rhubarb is now coming to the market from the field. (Sign up for the newsletter-- it is an outstanding resource for anyone who wants to know what is actually in season when.) What I worked with last week was hothouse, but it was very good. Sometimes hothouse can be more watery, and with a stalk which boasts 95% water, this can be a hairy situation.
Because a galette is open-faced it is important that water content in its interior be low. In a pie you have a carrier, a seal. But a galette is more laid-back, you bake it flat and hope your seams are secure.
In this tart I knew sliced apples going straight into the convection oven would only produce fruit leather so I sauteed them in a thin caramel with a pinch or two of unsalted butter. Then I drained them in a colander high over a bowl. You can save this liquid to drizzle over ice cream or it can be your little secret in the back of the fridge. Depending on the season, the pectin in the apples will slightly gel this apple-caramel. I cooked the apples in batches, I think it was about 4/5ths of a case, and cooked some more than others to create textural variety within the galette.
For the rhubarb I wet a towel and gave the quirky stalks a kitchen version of a sponge-bath before prepping them into shapes of a mostly similar size. Never wash cut rhubarb. You are sure to end up with a soupy mess after applying the rhubarb to heat.
This is the order I followed:
1. Make a lot of dough. 2. Portion it out. 3. Freeze dough packages. 4. Prep apples. 5. Pull out packages and put in walk-in. 6. Saute apples. 7. Clean/prep rhubarb. 8. Roll dough. Chill/rest rolled dough. 9. Line up all prepped ingredients and work fast. 10. Toss rhubarb pieces in sugar.
As you can see the dough needs a lot of babysitting. In a perfect world dough should be a 2-3 day process. But in this case I was like an AP photographer, I developed my film in hot chemicals to get the pictures faster.
If you look hard you can see in one of the photos I sprinkled a little rose geranium leaves/flowers I had in my freezer. Because they were brittle and cold I could easily crumple them up into small pieces. A little goes a long way with aromatic plants. I stayed away from the obvious cinnamon and hid an almost imperceptible pinch of crushed cardamon seeds into the flour/sugar mixture I sprinkled on the bottom of the galette dough before gently scooping in the caramel sauteed apples. (This helps to collect and congeal any sneaky pools of liquid from forming and protects the dough from getting too soggy.)
The oven should be hotter than you would think. The heat needs to travel through all that moisture to get the the bottom and middle of the galette. Also most doughs high in fat need a hot oven, if only at the onset, because otherwise they will melt or or shrink or just fall once warmed. I like to brush a little cream on the dough folds and sprinkle with some raw sugar for texture and a light sweetness.
I'll post the galette dough I prefer at a later date. But be warned: It is filled with gratuitous butterfat!