In the Hudson Valley, the month of August produces the crown jewels of the summer produce. At last, local tomatoes, corn and peaches are ready for picking. At last. It feels like I waited all summer for this event and now it is peach picking time. I am now ready to taste and cook peaches from every orchard in the Hudson Valley. First baking item on the agenda from this August bounty, is a peach galette.
I love making galettes. There is less pressure making a galette, because simplicity is the appeal. A pie made with a fancy decorative crust is stunning to look at, but I will save those for the holidays. For my day-to-day dessert, galettes fit the bill. There is more fruit to crust ratio in a galette, but it still has a crispy buttery crust to contrast with the tender fruit filling.
For this recipe, I scaled up the preparation a degree to produce a galette with a tender crispy crust with no soggy bottom, and enable the galette to keep its shape. To do this, I chill the galette dough at three different steps. First, I chill the dough right after I make it. Later, I chill the dough after I finish rolling it into a circle. The third and final chill happens after I fill the galette with fruit and shape it. This last step, is not a typical one, nor is it necessary, but it helps the galette keep its shape when baking and creates a flaky crust. Each time the dough is chilled, the gluten in the dough relaxes and the butter stays cold.
Another upgrade is, I added a layer of almond paste to my traditional fruit galette recipe. The almond paste has two purposes, add extra depth of nutty flavor to the peaches, and create a barrier between the fruit and the dough. This protective layer prevents the fruit juices from soaking the crust and making it soggy. There is nothing worse than a soggy bottom galette or pie.
I thinned the almond paste with dark rum so it will spread easily across the dough. Almonds and rum pair perfectly with the peaches and cherries and makes the peach galette have more depth of flavor. The almond paste does not overwhelm the peaches because the rum balances the flavor with notes of caramel and warmth. Look for almond paste in the baking aisle of your grocery store. If you do not like nuts, or are allergic to them, omit the almond paste and baste a layer of egg wash over the crust before you add the fruit.
One last upgrade I added is a trick I learned from The Art of Pie, by Kate McDermott. Before placing the fruit filling over the galette dough, drain the fruit juices into a bowl, then reduce the juice in a sauce pan on the stove. Not only does this step lessen the amount of fruit juices, but it concentrates the flavor as well. Each peach galette I made this summer, the peaches had a lot of juice. I never can tell how much fruit juice there will be. This extra step is not necessary, because the cornstarch will thicken up the juices, but it won’t hurt either.
This summer I learned something new about the different types of peaches. I am a little embarrassed about this discovery, but I always thought the “cling” of cling peaches, is just a name, like a Granny Smith apple. However, I learned “cling” has specific meaning and it’s obvious, duh, and I feel stupid for not realizing this earlier. There are two types of peaches with many variations of each type, cling peaches and free stone peaches. A cling peach, is a peach with its flesh tightly attached to the pit. The peach clings to the stone. A free stone peach, the peach flesh is not attached to the pit. The peach is free from the stone and easy to cut a peach in half and pull it apart. When I read this, I gave myself a whack on the forehead. Duh! Why did I not realize this before?
I always believed when peach flesh sticks to the pit, it means the peach is not completely ripe. Actually, I never heard the name free stone peach until this project. In my defense, it is possible I never ate a free stone peach before, but I would love to find some. Prying the flesh of cling peaches away from their pits is slippery and challenging. I get concerned about cutting my hand with my knife, and/or squish the peaches from gripping them to stay in place.
These additional steps take some time, but they create a delicious peach galette. One that is rich and bright in flavor from the almonds, peaches and cherries, with a crispy all butter crust. Keep these additional steps in your back pocket and use when you wish to up your galette making skills. Time is the unwritten ingredient for this recipe, but it is an important one to make a great crust.
© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.