People often ask me if I bake a lot at home, and it surprises them when they hear that I almost never bake unless I’m at work, where I’m spoiled by the professional kitchen. At home, I can never seem to find the right cup measure or pie plate that I want, and I always make a mess of the kitchen.
But when I visit the farmers’ market, the baking bug invariably bites and that’s when I turn to the one dessert that I do often make at home: a rustic fruit tart, also called a galette. The dough is a breeze to make with ingredients that I always have on hand. The freeform nature of the tart means that I don’t have to search for special baking equipment. And the fruit only needs to be tossed with a little sugar and flour (to thicken the juices) to become an irresistible filling. I’ve given measurements for the fruit, flour, and sugar, but don’t feel you have to follow the formula exactly. These tarts are pretty forgiving, so you can usually use a little more or less of an ingredient, depending on what fruit you have on hand and what sounds scrumptious to you.
Yields 1 tart; serves 8
Make the dough
The tart dough can be made in advance and frozen.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or if mixing by hand, in a medium bowl), combine 6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour, 2 tsp. granulated sugar, and 1/2 tsp. table salt.
Cut 5-1/2 oz. (11 Tbs.) cold, unsalted butter into 1/2-inch cubes and add them to the flour. On low speed, mix the butter and flour until the flour is no longer white and holds together when you clump it with your fingers, 1 to 2 minutes. If there are still lumps of butter larger than the size of peas, break them up with your fingers. Run a spatula along the bottom of the bowl to loosen anything stuck to the bowl. (If mixing by hand, mix with a pastry cutter or two forks until the butter is mixed into the flour as above.)
In a small bowl, mix 1 large egg yolk and 3 Tbs. whole milk and add them to the flour mixture. On low speed, mix until the dough just comes together, about 15 seconds; the dough will be somewhat soft. (If mixing by hand, add the yolk mixture to the flour and mix gently with a fork until the liquid is well distributed. The dough will still look crumbly and dry. Dump the dough onto a clean counter and work it with the heel of your hand, pushing and smearing it away from you and then gathering it up with a bench scraper and repeating until the dough comes together and is pliable.)
Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, press it into a flat disk, wrap it in the plastic, and let it rest in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes (or up to four days) before rolling it out. You can also freeze the dough for up to two months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.
Roll the dough
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Remove the dough from the refrigerator; if the dough is very firm, let it sit at room temperature until it’s pliable enough to roll, 10 to 15 minutes. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a round that’s about 13 to 14 inches in diameter. It’s all right if the edges are a little ragged. If you can’t get a roughly round shape, trim the dough piece so that it’s a rough circle and roll the trimmed scraps back into the dough. Transfer the dough round to the baking sheet and put it in the refrigerator while you prepare the fruit.
When you roll out the dough, be sure to keep your work surface well floured. If there’s too little flour under the dough, it will be difficult to roll and will stick to the surface. It’s also helpful to pass a bench scraper under the dough after every few swipes of the rolling pin, to ensure that the dough isn’t sticking to your work surface (just reflour lightly if it is.) And if the dough sticks to the pin, sprinkle a little flour on the top of the dough.
Prepare the fruit
You’ll need a total of about 4 cups of fruit. You can choose a single fruit or a combination (see options below), but I find that raspberries work best in combination with another fruit. (A raspberry-only tart is too tart.)
Put the fruit in a large bowl. Toss the fruit with 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour, and a big pinch of salt.
Choose one or two fruits
Apples, peeled and thinly sliced
Apricots, thinly sliced
Nectarines, thinly sliced
Peaches, thinly sliced
Pears, thinly sliced
Plums, thinly sliced
Add a flavoring
If you like can enhance the flavor of your fruit with citrus zest, spices, nuts, or extracts.
Add your flavoring to the fruit and toss to mix them in evenly. Taste your fruit; if it’s more tart than you like, you may want to add a few tablespoons more sugar.
Choose up to two flavorings (optional)
Pure almond extract: 1/2 tsp.
Pure vanilla extract: 1 tsp.
Finely grated lemon zest: 1 tsp.
Finely grated orange zest: 1 Tbs.
Toasted, coarsely chopped pecans: 1/2 cup
Toasted sliced almonds: 1/2 cup
Honey: 2 Tbs.
Ground cinnamon: 1/2 tsp.
Fresh lemon juice: 2 Tbs.
Assemble the tart
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes to keep it from cracking when you assemble the tart.
Heap the fruit in the center of the dough round. If you’re using sliced fruit, you can decoratively arrange slices in a fan on top of the center of the tart, or just pile the fruit on randomly. Using your fingertips, fold the edges of the dough over some of the fruit to create a rim about 2 inches wide. Work your way all the way around, pleating the dough as you go.
Give the crust some sparkle
Make a simple egg wash by beating 1 large egg in a small bowl with a fork. Using a pastry brush, brush the pleated dough evenly with the egg wash (you won’t use it all). To add a crunchy touch to the crust, sprinkle about 2 Tbs. of a topping (see options below) directly on the dough and fruit.
Choose a topping (optional)
Bake the tart
Bake the tart until the pleats of dough are completely golden brown without a trace of pale, unbaked dough, about 55 minutes. (It’s all right if some of the juices escape from the tart and seep onto the pan.) Transfer to a rack and let cool. The tart may be baked up to six hours ahead of serving.
When cool enough to handle, use a spatula to transfer the tart to a serving plate or cutting board. Slice it and serve it warm or at room temperature. Serve the slices with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if you like.
Variation: Mini Tarts
To make four individual tarts instead of one large one, follow the same method laid out here with a few adjustments. When you’re finished mixing the dough, portion it into four equal pieces (about 3-1/2 oz. each) before pressing them into disks and wrapping them in plastic; refrigerate. Roll the dough into rounds about 7 inches in diameter and portion the fruit evenly among the rounds. Pleat the dough around the fruit to make a 1-inch rim. Bake the tarts for 50 to 55 minutes.