Every once in a while - of course not as often as I'd like - I get an idea for a recipe and it's perfect on the first try. Sometimes - happily less often - it's all wrong. And most of the time it's like this peach galette - really, really good and very play-aroundable. With a recipe like this one, no sooner do I make it/see it/taste it, than I think of what I can do next time.
The tart (technically, I think it should be called a galette, but ... ) is French, mostly. I've seen desserts like this one all over France, mostly in the homiest bistros and pastry shops. Mine's a work in progress, but my guess is that the ones the pros make are pretty flexible, too. There are only three essential elements: the base, a sprinkling of sopper-upper and fruit, in this case peaches. You could get fancier, but you'd have to work hard to get plainer.
I made the base with my favorite Sweet Tart Dough. As soon as it came out of the food processor -- it was still cold, because I had used frozen butter -- I shaped it into a disk, placed it between two sheets of parchment and rolled it into a rough oval. It could have been a square, a rectangle, a circle or any other shape. I rolled mine 1/4-inch thick and I'm still on the fence about whether it was too thick or not. The dough is so delicious that I like to have a hefty slab of it -- and the peaches are heavy, so they need a sturdy base -- but I probably could have made it a sliver slimmer. When the crust was rolled out, I left it between the parchment and froze it. (I was in a hurry - as usual. Tart dough can always go in the fridge for an hour or so.)
In France, the ingredient that would be strewn across the crust would be ground almonds, which would be delicious here. But, in a moment of either inspiration or rebellion, I caught sight of a box of graham cracker crumbs and decided to use them instead. The crumbs turned out to be a good choice. But I could have made other choices: ground up stale pound cake probably would have been great, ditto spice cookies. Bread crumbs might even have been okay, too.
As for the fruit, I went with chunky peach halves that I scored. I liked the look, but Michael, my husband, thought the tart would have looked prettier with thick slices or wedges.
Me? I'm thinking this could make a fabulous blueberry galette. I'm seeing the blueberries melting and getting jammy. I'm not sure I'll be able to get great berries now, but Italian plums are in the market and I think those would be great. Maybe with some coriander in there somewhere ...
It's hardly a recipe, but here's the work-in-progress outline for it:
FREESTYLE PEACH GALETTE
1 recipe Sweet Tart Dough (the recipe's here)
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
10 peaches, peeled and pitted
Roll the dough out -- see above -- and refrigerate or freeze it between sheets of parchment paper.
Center a rack in the oven and put a large rimless cookie sheet in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Put the crumbs and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a small bowl; toss with your fingers to combine. Cut 1 tablespoon of butter into bits, drop them into the bowl and use your fingers to smush everything together until you have large, haphazard curds.
Put the crust on the counter, remove the top sheet of parchment, and, with your fingers, smear the remaining tablespoon of butter over the surface of the crust. Top with the crumb mixture. Place the peaches, cut side down or up, over the surface of the tart. If you'd rather slice the peaches - just do it. Sprinkle the top of the peaches with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
Using another baking sheet or a pizza peel, slide the tart -- parchment and all -- onto the hot cookie sheet. Close the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake the tart from 30 to 45 minutes (maybe more, this is an it-all-depends sweet), or until the crust is golden and firmish around the edges and the peaches are juicy and soft enough to be pierced easily with a knife. If the crust is browning too quickly, make a loose foil tent for it.
Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the tart cool on the sheet. The tart is good warm or at room temperature -- actually, it's good chilled, too -- but you shouldn't try to cut or eat it hot: the crust will be too soft to support the fruit. Really, the crust doesn't come into its own until it's cooled enough to firm and be a little crisp in places.
I'm going to play with the tart. If you do something with it, please let me know.