baked sweets

Strawberry and Rhubarb Summer Galette

Making this strawberry and rhubarb galette reinvigorated my (not simply figurative) appetite for flaky pastry. This is my first pastry crust of the summer, but it shant be my last! It is a little bit silly that I’m getting into crust-making right as the cold weather winds down and the sun makes its bold (and much needed) appearance here in Portland. While making this galette I re-learned some of the steadfast rules about pastry-making; i.e., don’t attempt to make a flaky crust with clammy hands and a warm countertop! Or do, but don’t be surprised if said galette is lacking in flaky, buttery galore. I’ve always had a problem being patient with pastry dough; I used to loom over my chilling dough, expecting it to speed up in the fridge and harden those butter shards already. Not surprisingly, my pie crusts always fell on the tough and gummy side of the pie-making spectrum. But not this time. No, no. This crust was made with patient hands and controlled with care, rather than by my thoughtless desire to rush to the finish line.

This galette is full of wholegrain spelt flour, though you could totally swap it out for all-purpose and possibly add a bit less water (since spelt is more water absorbant). If you haven’t already noticed, I’m a big spelt fan. It adds a touch more wholegrainy-ness without tasting and feeling as heavy as whole wheat or buckwheat. Plus, it just so happens to be strewn with a significant amount of vitamins and minerals (hoorah for nutrient-packed pies and cakes!). Spelt flour does still contain gluten, but, as I have recently learned, gluten proteins are not all created equal, and the protein in spelt is far easier for the stomach to digest (regardless, I don’t have a gluten intolerance, and welcome bread into my life with open arms).

Spelt or no spelt, the real star of this show is the rhubarb. And the strawberries, but mostly the rhubarb. I was blown away by how little I had to do to make something so gaspingly-delicious; toss the rhubarb in a little lemon zest, sugar, and vanilla, bake it, and voila (!), a magical matrix of flavors are now yours to enjoy. I seriously need to get back to the shops and stock up on rhubarb while it’s fresh and in season… a rhubarb loaf next, perhaps? Or a rhubarb crumble topped with embarrassingly generous dollops of cream? I’m thinking pretty much anything that combines the unique tanginess of rhubarb with the almightiness of flour and cold butter.


Ingredients~
Makes one ~10-inch galette

Crust:
1/2 cup wholegrain spelt flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (plus a few more pinches for dusting the surface of your workspace)
6 tbsps unsalted butter, cold and cubed
3-4 tbsps ice cold water (the less we need to use the better!)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Slightly heaped 1/4 tsp fine salt

Filling and assembly:
300 g (~3 cups) rhubarb, cut into small inch-thick pieces or left longer and sliced in half lengthwise, as pictured (or into thirds/quarters depending on thickness of stalks)
1/2 heaped cup fresh strawberries, halved or quartered depending on size
Finely grated zest of half a large lemon (or all of one small lemon)
1/4-1/3 cup granulated sugar (less if you have a higher tang tolerance; plus generous sprinkles to top)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsps cornstarch
Optional: 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water for brushing the crust (promotes a shinier finish; but know that the above galette was not brushed with a wash)

For serving:
Powdered sugar for dusting
Freshly whipped heavy cream or vanilla-bean ice cream!

Instructions~

1. In a large bowl, toss together the flours and salt. In a separate, small bowl, stir together 3 tbsps of cold water with the apple cider vinegar and set aside. Add the cubed (and very cold) butter to the flour mixture and use your fingers to toss the butter in the flour and pinch the pieces between your thumb and forefinger into flat shards. Continue tossing and pinching the butter and flour until the pieces are roughly the size of peas (about 1/4-inch; some slightly larger pieces here and there are okay). If at anytime the butter begins to feel too soft and easily squishes between your fingers, immediately put the bowl in the fridge or freezer to chill for several minutes before continuing; cold, cold everything is essential here.
2. Add the water-vinegar mixture and use a fork to gently combine it with the buttery flour. The dough should come together slightly, but needs to be dumped onto a clean (and preferably cool), lightly-floured countertop to be put together. Using your hands, as well as a bench scraper if you have one, fold the right half of the dough mess onto the left half, creating a little stack, and use your palm to press the two stacks of dough together, slightly combining them. Use a rolling pin to roll them out slightly (only so that they gain length and can be folded over again), gently pressing together the sheets of buttery dough in the process, and repeat the previous steps again, folding, pressing, and rolling, at least 1-2 more times until the dough can just be formed into a roughly disc-shaped mass.
3. The above process will all be very messy at first, with loose crumbs running amuck, but trust in the process and drizzle water sparingly (~1 more tbsp) until the dough can just hold together and be wrapped in plastic wrapped; you should be able to see streaks of butter running through the dough, and it shouldn’t feel dry to the touch. Allow it to chill in the fridge for at least one hour but preferably 2.
3. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss the chopped rhubarb and strawberries in a large bowl with the lemon zest, sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch. Set aside.  Prepare a lined baking sheet for the galette before beginning to roll out the dough. Roll out the dough into a roughly 10-inch wide circle, turning the dough slightly as you roll to encourage a more circular shape. Carefully transfer the sheet of dough to the baking pan before adding the fruity filling to the center (scraping out all of the sugar-lemon-cornstarch from the bottom of the bowl!). Be sure to leave at least 1 1/2 inches of empty dough around the circumference. Arrange the strips of rhubarb and strawberries as you desire before folding the outer bit of dough over the filling, overlapping slightly as you go. Lightly brush the crust with egg wash if using, and generously sprinkle sugar over the top of the filling and crust. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the crust is thoroughly browned and the rhubarb is soft to the touch but not burnt. Allow to cool only slightly (to avoid burnt tongues) before serving with whipped cream or ice-cream!

Note: pastry recipe adapted from Bon Appetit’s buckwheat galette recipe!

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