A lot of emphasis nowadays is put into how our food looks. Restaurant dishes come out looking like works of art, perfectly composed and almost too pretty to bite into. Desserts are the worst offender — this offering from Upper West Side Spanish restaurant Graffit, “a study of moscatel” that resembles a Kandinsky painting, is perhaps an extreme example of food as art, but even the dessert case at Whole Foods offers shiny glazed tarts and perfectly round chocolate bombs.
Funny thing is, that sort of stuff rarely appeals to me. My favorite dessert at Whole Foods is the decadently rich chocolate pudding, and the dish I’ll remember most from my dinner at Graffit was the succulent lechón (suckling pig), crispy-skinned and melt-in-your-mouth soft on the inside. Neither are terribly nice to look at (gloopy brown things rarely are), but in my eyes, taste is most important 100% of the time.
A lack of hang-ups about ugly food comes in handy when you make such um … rustic-looking food so often. While the desserts always taste delicious, I have yet to learn how to neatly frost a cake or make evenly round cookies (let’s not even discuss this cheesecake). So rather than fret over yet another misshapen pie, I decided to make a galette, or a free-form tart, where a rustic, homemade appearance is the desired outcome.
I had some frozen dough left over from making hand pies, which made this recipe a total cinch. But due to my inability to properly read a recipe, I didn’t realize I needed to buy almonds at the grocery store, which let to a lot of improvisation. I ditched Martha’s suggestion to make an almond filling and instead relied on the plum’s flavor to carry the tart.
Unfortunately, my plums were very unripe, creating a very tart tart (ha.) that needed some brown sugar and vanilla to brighten it. While they helped a bit, the tart was a little too one-note, so if you have almonds (or pistachios — I think those would be lovely), it’s worth including them.
That being said, this plum galette disappeared within 12 hours of its removal from the oven, 8 of those hours being used for sleeping. Maybe my family is willing to eat anything, but I’ll take it as a sign that the tart was still pretty good. (My own opinion: it was a 6 out of 10.) The crust was buttery flaky perfection, and I didn’t mind the tartness too much — I like a little something something to cut the sweetness of my desserts. I have a few ideas of how to improve it, which I’ve shared below, and I’d love to make it again, maybe with apricots or pluots instead.
Bonus: for once, my tart looked just as nice as Martha’s.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
I had exactly enough leftover hand pie dough to make this recipe, so I used that. The original recipe includes instructions on how to make the galette dough, so if you don’t have any frozen dough in your fridge, fret not — Martha’s got you covered. The only difference between the two is that the galette dough has much more sugar in it.
Since I didn’t have almonds and my plums were incredibly unripe, I added brown sugar and vanilla extract. Next time, I’d macerate the plums with the sugar and vanilla, so that they take on more sweetness. If your plums are ripe, you don’t necessarily need to do this, but if your plums, like mine, were at least a week away from perfection, then you may want to try this. Simply mix the plums, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and let sit for 20 minutes.
– 1 recipe pate brisee, chilled and ready to be rolled out (or you can use the dough from the original recipe)
– 6 plums, pitted and sliced thinly (keep the slices together)
– 1/4 cup brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
– 2 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4-inch pats
1) Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Flour your work surface and rolling pin generously. Unwrap your chilled dough (if using frozen dough, make sure it has been thawed completely).
2) Begin rolling out, turning and flouring as needed, until the dough has reached 1/4-inch thickness. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
3) Place the plums on the dough, fanning them out to create a domino-like effect. Leave at least a 2-inch border between the plums and the edge of the dough.
4) If you didn’t macerate the plums with the sugar and vanilla, add both now, sprinkling over the plums to distribute evenly. Fold the edges over fruit. Brush the edges with milk and sprinkle some sugar on the crust.
5) Bake for 60 minutes, then add the pats of butter over top the plums. Bake another 10-15 minutes, until the crust is golden, the plums are soft and the underside is cooked through.