Puff Pastry and a Galette

You can’t just be a cook these days. You need to be a writer, a photographer and a public relations guru. I’m learning to do all three of these things. And that’s why I didn’t make the puff pastry you see in this picture.

Well, that’s only part of it.  The other reason I didn’t make it is because I want to demonstrate that for most home cooks, it’s not very practical to make your own puff pastry.  Good puff pastry is available from many grocery and specialty food stores. And when it’s a busy, hot summer, it’s more important to enjoy the fruits of the season without the stress of creating puff pastry.

Don’t let me discourage you though. If you’re interested in a challenge, making puff pastry is right up there with making croissants.  (Actually, the technique is quite similar.)  And it’s incredibly satisfying, like making a beautiful loaf of hearth bread.  If you’re looking for a somewhat simpler technique, try a recipe for making blitz or quick puff pastry. You can get much of the same characteristic layering without all of the complicated folding that true puff pastry requires.

But don’t feel pressured. Very, very few restaurants and even bakeries make their own puff pastry. One exception I know of is the King Arthur Flour Bakery in Vermont, where I worked for a year. We made beautiful, buttery and flaky puff pastry every week and I loved it.  But because puff pastry can be a little temperamental to handle (hot kitchens are not conducive to puff) and because it takes a lot of time to make puff pastry, most businesses buy their puff.

In the Seattle area, there are a several choices for the home cook. All-butter puff pastry is by far the best flavor. DeLaurenti’s in Seattle’s Pike Place Market carries a very nice all-butter puff pastry in their freezer case. Metropolitan Market carries the Dufour brand of puff, also an all-butter option. You can also find puff pastry at PCC (Aussie brand), Top Foods (Aussie and Pepperidge Farm brands) and Safeway (Safeway Select). These three stores all carry puff pastry made with palm oils. Although the flavor is somewhat inferior to the all-butter options, they all puff up well and have a nice light texture, with the Safeway Select brand being slightly flakier to the other two brands. (I’m using Delaurenti’s puff pastry in these pictures.)

Puff Pastry Handling Tips: All puff pastry is sold frozen and folded. You must thaw the puff pastry before unfolding it. The best way to do this is to thaw the pastry on the counter at mild temperatures (70 degrees) or in the refrigerator. Once the puff has thawed, unfold it and lay it in single flat layers on a parchment lined baking sheet. Then freeze it again on the baking sheet (about 20 minutes). Freezing it allows for easier cutting and handling.

Fruit Galette with Almond Filling
Before you remove the puff from the freezer, make an egg wash (1 whole egg, 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt mixed with a fork). The egg wash will be the “glue” when you put together your galette. Once the puff pastry is frozen again, remove it from the freezer. Let it thaw slightly and then cut it into the desired shape.  For this galette, you can measure two rectangles the same size, or you can use an approximate form like I did – the bottom of a 5×9 inch loaf pan.  After cutting identical rectangles, cut out the center of one of the rectangles leaving about a 5/8 inch “frame.” Now you will have one solid rectangle and one frame. (Gather the leftover puff scraps, wrap them in plastic and put them back in the freezer for another use.)

Carefully paint the egg wash onto the outer ½ inch edge of the solid rectangle of puff pastry. I use my finger to keep from getting too much egg wash. Egg wash that drips down the sides of the puff will seal the puff and prevent it from “puffing.”  (If the puff pastry starts to get too soft to handle, just pop it in the freezer again until it’s solid.)  Now take the puff “frame” and place it on top of the egg wash painted edge of the solid rectangle, gently lining up the edges. Now put the constructed galette base back into the freezer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Make this recipe for frangipane (almond cake). You’ll use a small portion of it, so save the rest for another time. It freezes well.

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Then it’s time to slice up the fruit. I like the look of the peels on the fruit, so the nectarines and black or red plums work well for this galette. Apricot would also be nice this time of year. And this galette is a classic with pear or apple slices. Slice the fruit very thin, about 1/16 inch thick. Traditionally, a galette like this should look somewhat refined.

Remove the puff galette base from the freezer and spread some of the frangipane within the frame of the puff, not letting it exceed the top of the puff rim.  Now lay the fruit onto the frangipane in neat rows, spacing them evenly.

Just one more time in the freezer for the whole galette to firm the puff before it goes into the oven. Once it’s firm, remove it from the freezer and carefully paint on the egg wash around the top of the “frame.

Bake the galette for 25-35 minutes until it is puffed and dark golden brown. The almond filling will bake and puff up some and should also be golden brown. After you’ve removed it from the oven, brush the fruit lightly with an apricot jam glaze (2 tablespoons jam to 1 tablespoon water warmed and strained). Cool the galette before serving.

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