High Country Baking column: Plum galette a rustic-yet-appealing dessert
Editor’s note: High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
Simplicity can be very enticing, take this rustic galette for example. Sliced sweet plums are cradled in a tender crust kept crisp by a sprinkle of ground nuts. It couldn’t be more straightforward or more appealing.
To assure its success, use only ripe (but not over-ripe) and unblemished plums, handle the dough very lightly and serve the galette warm on the day you make it. Vanilla ice cream is a nice accompaniment.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon superfine sugar, preferably Baker’s
Generous 1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
5-6 tablespoons ice water
1/4 cup almond meal or ground almonds
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar, divided
3 1/2 tablespoons flour, divided
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 pound ripe sweet plums, preferably Italian Prune Plums
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream
Make the dough (can be done one day ahead): Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Cut butter into 1-inch cubes, add to bowl and pulse a few times; butter should remain very chunky. Add 5 tablespoons ice water and pulse until moist curds form. Pinch the dough between your fingers, if it doesn’t stick together, then add more ice water and pulse again. Turn out on a piece of waxed paper, gently form into a 6-inch disc and refrigerate, wrapped, for at least an hour and up to a day.
Whisk the ground nuts, 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons flour in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm until roll-able. Center disc on a sheet of parchment and roll into a 12-inch circle about 1/4 of an inch thick (lay waxed paper on top of the disc before rolling so the dough doesn’t stick to the rolling pin). Flip dough (still between the waxed and parchment papers) over several times while rolling and gently lift the parchment (so dough doesn’t stick to it), then place parchment back on dough, flip again, so waxed paper is on top, and continue to roll. Remove waxed paper, leave dough on the parchment and trim edges of the circle. Slide the parchment paper, with the dough on it, onto a cookie sheet. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 cup sugar and lemon zest until combined. Wash, pit the plums and slice them into 1/2-inch wedges. Add them, with the vanilla, to the mixing bowl and toss until all slices are coated with the dry ingredients.
Sprinkle the nut mixture over the dough circle. Pile the plum slices decoratively in the center, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the edge of the dough over the fruit, pleating it as you go; it should hold the plum slices snugly with no air pockets. Brush the dough with cream and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top (on both fruit and dough).
Bake until the crust is golden and the plums are tender and bubbling, about 50-60 minutes. If the crust is done before the fruit, then tent the galette with a piece of foil. Remove to a rack and cool completely; the filling will thicken as it cools. Cut the galette into pieces and, if desired, reheat in a 325 degree oven until warm to the touch.
Vera Dawson, author of the new high altitude cookbook “Cookies in the Clouds” (available at The Bookworm in Edwards and The Next Page Bookstore in Frisco), is a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.