Sunday, August 30, 2009

nectarine galette

nectarine almond tart

Has it really been nearly two years we talked about the Simplest Apple Tart? What a bummer, I say, a darn shame because there’s no reason to limit this pared-down approach to fruit desserts to apple season. Stone fruits are a natural match for this type of open, single crust tart — they bake up gorgeously, don’t lose so much liquid that you end up flooding the crust (or your oven floor) and oh, they’re all so flawless right now that even nectarines, which unfairly play second fiddle to peaches, deserve their own day in the spotlight.

jersey nectarinesa white nectarine snuck in!nectarine wedgesground almonds, sugar and flournectarines, ground almondsnectarine-almond tart, ready to bake

Plus? It’s ridiculous easy to make. A single pie crust, a brush of melted butter, a sprinkling of sugar and big wedges of peak-season fruit, in this case, arranged on a bed of ground almonds, baked until the edges are browned and the fruit is starting to caramelize. You don’t need a tart pan or pie plate, you don’t need streusel toppings or intimidating slabs of dough rolled out to uber-specific measurements and frankly, you don’t even need a recipe for this kind of approach — something I proved by managing in my spaced-out mental lala land of 36 weeks of pregnancy to fudge almost every step. You don’t even need a proper excuse to make this; “it’s 3 p.m. and I really ought to do something with those nectarines” was enough for me.

We had some as a late-night snack, more then next afternoon with some unsweetened yogurt slathered on top and, if friends drop by today, they’ll get a taste as well. But they’d better hurry. I’m just saying.

nectarine almond tart

One year ago: Sour Cherry Compote and Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee
Two years ago: White Bean Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Three (!) years ago: Moules a la Marieniere and Vodka Cream Pasta

Nectarine Galette
Adapted, loosely, from Alice Water’s Apricot Tart

Among the many air-headed things I did while making this (shrugged at the measurement suggestions, forgot to buy the amaretti cookies) I ended up making double the tart dough needed and using it all at once, resulting in a thicker-than-usual galette. A bad thing? Not if you really like your flaky crust. But I’ll tell you the recipe the way it was ought to be, with a little less heft. Double it if you wish.

Waters’ recipe includes some crushed amaretti cookies — small, macaroon-like almond biscuits — with the ground almond base, an addition I have no doubt would be fantastic. With no interest in running waddling back to the store for them, I swapped them with extra ground almonds, but if you’ve got them around, I am sure you’ll be glad you used them.

Finally, next time I’ll sprinkle some sliced almonds on top near the end of the baking time, to increase the almond-y flavor but you can skip this if you don’t wish to accent it.

Serves 8

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick or 3 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2–inch pieces

1 tablespoon ground almonds
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon amaretti, pulverized — or — 1 extra tablespoon ground almonds plus an extra teaspoon sugar
10 ounces galette dough, rolled into a 14-inch circle and chilled
1 and 1/2 pounds ripe nectarines (about 4 large)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/4 sliced almonds (optional)
Peach or nectarine jam (optional)

Make the crust: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large, wide mixing bowl. Cut in six tablespoons of the butter with a pastry blender or two knives, mixing until the dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Dribble four tablespoons ice water over the mixture, using a rubber spatula to pull the mixture together. Gather the dough into a mound (either in the bowl or on a counter) and gently knead it together, for just a few seconds. If it’s not coming together, add ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until it does. Wrap dough in a flat disc in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

When you are ready to roll out the dough, take one disk and let it soften slightly so that it is malleable but still cold. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the disk into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate at least 1/2 hour before using.

Make the galette: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a pizza stone, if you have one, on a lower rack. Toss the ground almonds, flour, one tablespoon of the sugar, and pulverized amaretti (or mix of extra ground almonds and sugar) together.

Remove the prerolled dough from the refrigerator or freezer and sprinkle the almond mixture evenly over the pastry, leaving a 1 1/2 to 2-inch border uncoated. Cut nectarines in half, removing pits, then each half into thirds (you’ll get six wedges per nectarine). Arrange the fruit, skin-side-down, in concentric circles on the dough, making a single layer of snugly touching pieces, leaving the border bare. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the sugar evenly over the fruit.

While rotating the tart, fold the border of exposed dough up and over itself at regular intervals, crimping and pushing it up against the fruit. Pinch or trim off any excess dough. (Make sure there are no breaks that will let juices leak.) Brush the border with melted butter, and sprinkle it with two tablespoons sugar.

Bake in the lower third of the oven (preferably on a pizza stone) for about 45 to 50 minutes, until the crust is well browned and its edges are slightly caramelized. If you wish, sprinkle sliced almonds over the galette 15 minutes before the baking time ends, so they get toasty and extra-crisp. As soon as the galette is out of the oven, use a large metal spatula to slide it onto a cooling rack, to keep it from getting soggy. Let cool for 20 minutes. If you want to glaze the tart, brush the fruit lightly with a little warmed peach (or nectarine, if you have it) jam. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or with plain yogurt.

Do ahead: This galette keeps at room temperature for at least two days, and even longer in the fridge. The unbaked dough, wrapped in plastic, will keep in the freezer for a few weeks, the fridge for a day or more. Rolled-out dough may be frozen and used the next day.


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