Musing with Max

Musing with Max

October 9, 2011

Upper Crust

When I was in high school going from my junior year into my senior year I had a credit which I needed to make up, for reasons which are nobody's business, and it had to be done during Summer school, yuck. Summer school was odd, it had all those kids that had to go all day cause they just plain failed and those like me who had to make up a credit for reasons that are nobody's business. If you had to make up a credit for reasons that are nobody's business you had to pick a class that wasn't offered during the normal school year which was the same rule they had if you had to make up a credit for reasons which are nobody's business during the school year and had to go to night school, double yuck. Yes, I know this rule sounds bizarre but after all it was Miami which qualifies as another country if not another galaxy. The choices weren't many but they did have something I loved; the class was called "International Cooking" which made it different than the regular HomeEc (yes HomeEc, I'm old) cooking class by virtue of the international aspect. It was a 6 week class and since it was a shorter than usual semester each class was 2 hours. The class was divided into 5 groups each consisting of 5 girls, yes girls no guys took HomeEc, and each group picked a different country hence each week a different country was featured. Whatever group's country was being featured did research on that country and its foods, put a report together and a menu for a full meal which would be cooked by all the groups. Each week every group rotated the duties of each member, i.e.: one girl would be in charge of chopping another of preparation, another table settings another as sous chef and another as chef. On Mondays the featured group would give a presentation on the country, Tuesday a presentation on the food and featured menu, on Wednesday the teacher would show up with all the ingredients and the schedules would be set, on Thursday preparations would begin and whatever could be cooked ahead would be and on Fridays the cooking would be completed and we would sit down and eat. Needless to say this was the best class of my entire high school career. When the last and sixth week came around all the groups had completed their rotations so the teacher announced that it was a free week and we could choose whatever food topic we wanted to cover. The class before ours, regular HomeEc, had made apple pies the week before and we decided that was what we wanted to make. It turned out that it was my turn to be HEAD CHEF and I wanted to make a cherry pie. I had never made a pie before let alone from scratch which was the only way we were to make it here so I was responsible for making the crust rolling it out, etc. The whole nine yards. My pie came out beautiful, the crust was absolutely perfect, everyone raved. I was ecstatic. I then became a profuse pie baker, cherry, apple (double crust), pumpkin...for about two months. Years passed before I made a pie again, and except for one Thanksgiving when I baked a lovely pumpkin pie, the crust was a disaster. It was either too sticky and gummy or too dry and crumbly and impossible to roll out in either case so I stopped even trying. That hasn't stopped me from drooling at pies and tarts and collecting recipes of everything involving a crust and wanting to try it again. So I finally decided to jump in with both feet, or hands, and try a galette since the crust is more forgiving.

Santa Rosa Plum Galette adapted from The New York Times

Total time 45 minutes plus chilling

For the crust:
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon cake flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, chilled and cut into small pieces
For the filling:
  • 1 1/4 cups (4 ounces) blanched, sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 10 ripe Santa Rosa plums, pitted and sliced
  • Sugar for sprinkling
To prepare dough, in a food processor, combine flours, sugar and salt and pulse a few times. Add butter and cream cheese. Process until mixture just comes together.
Turn dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, press it into a disk, wrap it well and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece between sheets of plastic wrap into 1/8-inch-thick rounds (about 6 inches in diameter). Place pastry rounds on one or two baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or nonstick liners. Chill rounds while preparing filling.
For filling, in a food processor, combine almonds with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Pulse until mixture becomes a fine meal (avoid over-processing). Add butter, 2 eggs, flour, vanilla and salt and process until combined.

In a bowl, beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush this egg wash over prepared pastry rounds. Spoon about 2 tablespoons almond filling in center of each pastry round and spread it to within 2 inches of the edge.

Arrange plum slices in a spiral over filling. Sprinkle raw sugar generously over plums. Fold edges of tart dough up over edges of plums. Dough will overlap.

Bake tarts until pastry is golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes.

***Note: This calls for eight tarts, I wanted to make one large one but the dough is too much for that so I wound up making two.

I also toasted the almonds in the broiler for a few minutes before hand because I love the taste
I don't know what Santa Rosa plums are, I used black plums I found in the market; I only used six. It took 40 minutes to bake, I started with 20 minutes and then added intervals of 10 minutes until it was golden. Maybe this had something to do with it being two tarts instead of eight.
Max keeps wondering what the heck I am doing with all this doughy stuff

and why I don't concentrate on things he can and wants to scoop up off the floor or counter when no one's looking

1 comment:

  1. I too have a long distance love affair with pies.

    Every summer I plan to bake a peach pie and then it gets too hot and I won't turn the oven on and I can't make a good crust anyway.

    So there goes another summer pie down the drain.

    But this looks lovely.

    Will I make it? Doubtful. But I'd love a slice.

    xo jane