It must have been about eight or nine years ago now. Who knew one little book would lead to all this? Don’t worry, I’m not about to try sign you up to some weird cult, it’s a cook book.
I was in one of those discount book shops that you get – this one in a particularly dark, dingy recess of a shopping centre in Dundee – when I happened by chance to pick up a copy of New Bistro (Fran Warde, published by Mitchell Beazley, 2009). It’s a book about rustic French cooking; the sort of food you find in little bistros around France.
I’ve always loved ‘French food’, but for some reason it is this book (which in all probability isn’t the most genuine interpretation of cuisine française) that made me start cooking it. Since those days there have been several incarnations of Tomato Crumble (and another one here), hogget, ratatouille, and more besides, but something I’ve never attempted is a galette.
If you look up galettes online you’ll find numerous interpretations of what they are. They can be sweet, savoury, they can even be cookies (if you’re a French-Canadian); for me though they tend to be a free-form pastry based dessert. Or another name for a savoury crêpe. Confused yet? I am.
Those like me who spend too much time on Instagram will likely have noticed that sweet, fruit-laden galettes are quite on-trend at the moment, and it was there (Food52’s feed, to be exact) that I saw one that got me thinking about the tub of strawberries I had kicking about in the fridge.
So, in short, this recipe is for a rustic French dessert made in Edinburgh, by way of a company from New York’s Instagram and a dingy bookshop in Dundee. Way to over-complicate a simple dessert much?
This recipe is the result of much mouthwatering Instagram ‘research’ and a ‘trial and error’ approach, so is an original to The Usual Saucepans. It makes a dessert for four (or more if they’re not greedy like my friends and I). There is no real reason this has to be made with strawberries, so adjust for whatever fruit you want to use.
180g plain flour
15g brown sugar
1 large egg
1 pinch of salt
1 tbs demerara sugar
1 punnet of strawberries
2 tsp cornflour
Take your strawberries out of the fridge (if they were in there) so they are at room temperature when you need them.
Make the pastry by putting the flour, brown sugar, salt and butter in a large bowl and mix together with an electric mixer until it has a breadcrumb-like texture. At this point crack in your egg (you should whisk it first, but who’s to know if you don’t?), and mix gently until it starts to come together. You can also do this in a food processor, but be careful not to over mix it. If the mixture doesn’t look like it is coming together (not all eggs and flour measurement is created equal), add in a couple teaspoons worth of milk.
Get your hands into the bowl and bring the mixture together and then start to knead it (or roll out onto a floured work surface, if you prefer) for a couple of minutes until it becomes smooth. Wrap tightly and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Preheat your oven to 200ºC. Roll out your pastry to a circle approximately 30cm (12 inches) in diameter, then transfer to a baking paper-lined tray. I would use a tray with sides, just in case there’s leakage in the oven – trays are easier to clean than ovens. Put back in the fridge.
Prepare your filling by hulling and roughly chopping your strawberries into a bowl. Once all the pieces are in, mix through the cornflour (this will thicken the juices; if using less juicy fruit, only use 1 tsp). You can add vanilla extract or a little lemon juice here, if you want.
Take your pastry out of the fridge and pile your strawberry mixture on top, leaving a 5-7cm gap around the sides. Gently fold the edges of your pastry over your fruit, pinching slightly as you go to deal with overlaps. This will form the rim of your galette (there is no lid). Brush the top of the pastry with a little milk or egg (optional) to give it a gloss when it comes out of the oven, then scatter your Demerara sugar over the top, making sure most of it goes on the fruit.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until the pastry is golden. Cool for 5-10 minutes and serve, or cool completely and serve at room temperature. Serve with more fruit and a little cream.