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 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 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 pear galette very quickly by using a store-bought pastry.
Congratulations to the winners of last week’s American Masala Giveaway, details at the end of the post:
The Salty Tart bakes baguettes every day and also creates sandwiches to go.
Sticky Toffee Pudding Cakes, which you know from last week’s post is one of my weaknesses.
If you have a big party or wedding this is where you should come for your cakes, if you don’t make them yourself.
The Salty Tart’s Pear Galette
by Michelle Gayer
Homemade Puff Pastry or use store bought:
1 pound Bread Flour
1 pound Pastry Flour – pastry flour is lower in protein (about 8%) than all-purpose, but higher than cake flour.
2 pounds cold Butter
1/2 ounce Salt
8 ounces Cold Water
- Cut cold butter into small cubes.
- Dissolve salt in water.
- Mix the butter into the flours leaving butter in large chunks.
- Add salted water to flour/butter mixture and mix until the water is absorbed.
- Form dough 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 and 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.
8 oz Almond Meal/Flour
1 oz Sugar
4 oz Butter
1 oz Cake Flour
4 oz Eggs
- In mixer with paddle attachment mix almond flour and sugar at low speed until evenly blended.
- Blend in butter
- Blend in flour
- Blend in eggs until smooth
To assemble the Pear Galette:
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Cut fruit in half (Pears, Apples, Nectarines work best) and 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.
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!
Mortar & pestle, plus a signed copy of American Masala goes to Laurie.
Dinner for 2 at Devi in NYC goes to Andy.