Jun 13, 2012

Mango & Cherry Galette

I know, what's a Galette, right?  I never heard of it either.  Galette is fancy-pants-French for a free-form, rustic type tart/pie.  It's made from the same dough you'd use to make any pie or tart, pate sucree for example.  The term is used to describe the way in which the pie is formed.

We recently traveled to Lebanon to visit my husbands family and fortunately this is cherry-pickin' season.  And I literally mean that.  His family has two cherry trees in their front yard which we picked the cherries straight from and ate right there and then, a first for me.  We hauled back almost 4kg of cherries to Dubai.  Now cherries are great and all, but no one can eat 4 kg of cherries, really you'd blow up like Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka...and turn red not blue.  And that is just not a good look for anyone.

Since we had enough cherries for the Lebanese army, I decided it was best to try and bake with them.  And as much as I consider myself the all-American girl, I have to say this is the first time I've ate cherry pie.  I know, crazy!  And just a word to the wise...fresh cherries become REALLY tart when you bake them, like wowza tart.  So if you are not a huge fan of tangy sweets, maybe try a different berry like blueberry or blackberry.  I Think either would go great with the mango.  And if you don't like mango (really? who doesn't like mango) you can swap them out for peaches or nectarines.

Since I'm a fan of seemingly useless kitchen gadgets, I wanted to show you my olive/cherry pitter. Finally, finally I got to use this damn thing that takes up so much space in my someday-I-will-use-these-contraptions-drawer.

All you do it place the cherry in the little slot and squeeze the handle. The pit shoots out the bottom without too much damage to the cherry. Pretty easy and painless. This might be something fun for the kiddos to help you with so long as you can trust them to not eat the pits...or feed them to the dog.

Additionally this is the first time I've prepared pie dough using vegetable shortening.  Usually I've always used butter in the past.  Now that I've tried both types, here is what I can recommend to you about both:

Vegetable shortening pie dough: extremely easy and forgiving to work with.  In fact the recipe I tested here didn't even require the dough to be refrigerated prior to using.  You simply mix the ingredients and roll.  Nice and easy.  The dough had an elasticity to it that made it very easy to handle with not too much cracking at the edges.  When using butter-based dough you need to let the dough warm up a bit prior to rolling otherwise you end up with lots of cracks that can be difficult to fix.  The only drawback I see to using vegetable shortening was the over-all taste of the crust.  It kind of came together in your mouth and didn't go anywhere.  Major disappointment.  The crust was somewhat flaky, but no where near as light and crispy as a butter-based crust.

Butter-based pie dough:  Butter is king, butter is better, butter be still my heart.  Nothing compares to the taste of a butter-based pie crust.  Butter provides the ultimate flaky, yet tender crust that melts in your mouth and makes you utter 'gimmie another slice please.' 

The only drawback to using butter is you need to be patient and cautious with the temperature of all your ingredients.  Butter-based pie dough needs TLC.  You need to work fast and you need to work cold.  For more information on perfecting the pie crust please refer to my Gentleman's Apple Pie post.

If you are new to making pies, I 100% implore you to first try a vegetable shortening pie dough.  It's much easier to handle and won't make you sweat and curse in the kitchen.  I also suggest to first try an apple pie or another fruit that isn't too expensive.  If your pie turns out to be a flop (don't worry it won't, I'm just sayin') at least you won't have to trash expensive berries or chocolate.

Lastly, the recipe I tested also called for a custard to be poured into the pie once it's about half way baked.  You then continue baking until the custard is set.  It did mention that all the custard may not fit...well it was right, it didn't.  I poured very, very slowly and still some managed to seep out the sides.  Even if you can only fit half the custard, it's okay.  Some is better than none.

Mango & Chery Galette
Makes one 9" pie, serves 8

For the crust:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
3/4 cup cool water (more or less) not cold

For the filling:
2-4 fresh, ripe mangos depending on the size, peeled and sliced
2 cups pitted cherries (more or less is okay)
2-4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons jam of choice (I used strawberry as it's what I had on hand)
1-2 tablespoon caster or coarse sugar for dusting
 For the custard (optional):
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1/4 cup cream or half & half
To prepare the dough, sift flour and salt into a large bowl making a well in the middle.  Put shortening into the well.
Coat both hands with flour well. Taking a handful of flour, cover the shortening with the flour and begin to slowly incorporate the two ingredients. Be careful not to mush the entire lump of shortening with your hands.  Work slowly and delicately.  It's very important to not let the heat of your hands melt the shortening. The least amount of contact with the shortening the better.

With both hands, work the shortening into the flour using a circular, rubbing motion, always keeping contact with the flour, not the shortening, pick up more flour and shortening as you go. Always keep the shortening in the middle of the flour.

It should look like a small peas, with the shortening being totally incorporated into the flour.

Pour half the water in, gathering it into a ball. Continue adding the water until it comes together in a soft ball of dough. You may need more or less water depending on the humidity (I used about half). Do NOT knead the dough as in bread making.  Work the dough as little as you have to, just enough to keep it formed in a ball. 
Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Dough can also be rolled immediately.

To assemble the Galette:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick silpat liner.
Place the peach slices in a bowl and toss with sugar, more or less, to taste.

On a floured surface, roll out pie crust to approximately 14" in diameter. Leave the edges ragged or trim them as desired.
Transfer pie crust to the prepared pan. The edges will fall over the sides, but it will be folded over the filling later on. 

As usual my Sous Chef is never too far in case I need help...

Using a 9" inverted bowl or pan lid, lightly mark the inside of the pastry crust. Be careful not to cut through the dough. This will be used a guide or template for the jam and or fruit filling.

Spread jam evenly over the pastry crust within the circle.

Layer sliced mangos inside and around the circle until it is full.

Layer the pitted cherries on top of the mango.

Moisten the edges with a small amount of water and carefully fold up, pressing and folding the edges up, slightly folding at the corners.  I crimped the edges with a fork only because it seemed like something you should do, especially where the sides meet.

Sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons of castor sugar for a rustic look.

If the galette is just fruit only with no custard filling, then bake it at 400 degrees for approximately 40-50 minutes or until the fruit is tender.

If the galette will be filled with custard, whisk together all custard ingredients in a small bowl. Remove the galette from the oven after 25 minutes and very gently pour the custard though the center and it will trickle down inside.  I used a measuring cup with a spout so the custard would be easier to pour.

Depending on the amount of fruit juice the galette has produced, some of it may need to be spooned out to make room for the custard. Don't worry if it doesn't all fit. Some is better than none. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until custard is set.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. 

Serve with fresh whipped cream.  Slice and enjoy!

recipe adapted from Donna Diegel

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