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.
In 2008 she finally got the chance and opened the Salty Tart, which was an award-winning treasure in the Midtown 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 one 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 was wonderful and fun as she is.
Michelle 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, but you can create this pear galette very quickly by using a store-bought pastry.
The Salty Tart’s Pear Galette
by Michelle Gayer
While I was at the bakery I overheard Michelle saying to one of her pastry assistants to bake the pear galettes until there is color. “Color is flavor, so let it go until it is nice and caramelized!” I think those are great words to live by in the pastry kitchen and at home!
Homemade Puff Pastry or use store bought:
- 1 lb bread flour
- 1 lb pastry flour
- 2 lbs cold butter
- ½ oz salt
- 8 oz cold water
- 8 oz almond meal/flour
- 1 oz sugar
- 4 oz butter
- 1 oz cake flour
- 4 oz eggs
- Cut cold butter into small cubes and dissolve salt in water.
- Mix the butter into the flours, leaving the butter in large chunks
- Add salted water to flour/butter mixture and mix until the water is absorbed.
- Form double into a flat square and let rest at least 15 minutes.
- Dust table with flour and roll out the dough into a rectangle. Give the dough a book-fold and let rest at least 30 minutes. Repeat rolling out, folding and resting until the dough has 3 book-folds. The dough is now ready to be rolled out and cut.
- In the mixer with a paddle attachment, mix almond flour and sugar at a low speed until evenly blended.
- Blend in the butter. Then blend in flour. Then blend in eggs until smooth.
Pear Galette Assembly
- Preheat oven to 350° and cut fruit in half. Remove seeds or pit.
- Roll out puff pastry and cut into circles that are about a half-inch larger on all sides than your fruit.
- Place a small scoop of almond cream in the center of the puff pastry circle and then place the fruit half, cut side up, on top of the almond cream.
- Egg wash the top of the exposed puff pastry dough, sprinkle with Demerara Sugar and bake approximately 20-30 minutes rotating halfway through baking until dough is golden and flakey.