This is a rustic French tart with a rather fanciful name, galette, but at the end of the day it is just a pie without a plate. It is simple to make and imperfection is part of its old world charm. No fancy fluting or lattice top crust to worry about and yet the flavor is just as wonderful. A galette can be made with any filling, but right now the apples are abundant and calling me. Since there are so many varieties of apples available, I like to use a few to create the filling. Some will turn to sauce (McIntosh), some will keep their shape (Prairie Spy), others will be sweet (HoneyCrisp) and some will be tart (Haralson). You can mix and match to suit your mood. The crust should be tender and flaky and just barely strong enough to hold up to the apples. It adds to the drama if some of the juices escape, which is why we bake on a sided baking sheet. (more…)
2/17/11 update: Michelle was just nominated for her 3rd James Beard Award!!!! So well deserved. Find more information from the Beard winning journalist Rick Nelson’s Star Tribune article.
I met Michelle Gayer’s desserts many years before I ever met her. When I was still a pastry assistant I came to work with Charlie Trotter’s Desserts, which Michelle wrote while she was the pastry chef at Trotter’s, and convinced the team to make everything out of it. Her style was entirely about the food, elegant, but not architectural and overly fussy. I did manage to bake and cook my way through her book and probably landed the Executive Pastry Chef job as a result. Fast forward a decade and I was introduced to Michelle by a mutual friend. Michelle had just moved to Minneapolis from Chicago with her family to create the desserts for a national bakery. It was one of the finest days in our fair city’s history of sweets. We became fast friends, not in the kitchen, but on the playground with our kids. The very first day I met her we talked about her dream of opening her own bakery, which seemed as inevitable as snow in Minnesota.
Just about 3 years ago she finally got the chance and opened the Salty Tart. It is an award winning treasure in the Global Market. Filled with artisan breads (she uses a sour starter she got when she worked with Nancy Silverton), French pastries, to die for cookies and cupcakes. We did an event together last summer for a Farm to Table dinner at the Walker Art Museum and I got to work in her kitchen. Not only were her desserts lick-the-plate-clean-delicious and gorgeous, but her team at the bakery loved every second of being there with her. She opened her dream bakery and it is as wonderful and fun as she is.
Michelle has generously shared her recipe (below) for this stunning Pear Galette, which is rustic and easy to make. She, of course, makes her own puff pastry at the Salty Tart, but you can create this dessert very quickly by using a store bought pastry.
Congratulations to the winners of last weeks American Masala Giveaway, details at the end of the post:
I know I promised a tour of the spice market in Istanbul, but I had to show you the plum pie I made for my stepmother’s birthday first. When I returned home after a month away my refrigerator was bare, nothing but a jar of capers and a bottle of sriracha sauce. After shopping in Europe the grocery stores here in MN seemed obscene with selection. The produce isle was filled with every fruit and vegie you could ever want, despite the fact that many of them wouldn’t be in season for months. It was both overwhelming and a bit thrilling to have all this at my fingertips. I’d been eating juicy plums and peaches in Italy and had decided to make my stepmother a pie with them for her birthday. They were perhaps a little firm, but they looked and smelled gorgeous. Because it was a special occasion I cooked the plums in champagne and vanilla. I made a tender crust and folded it a few times to add some flaky layers. This is my kind of birthday pie! (more…)