Mushroom Tart - All Purpose Galette
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I have long used frozen pie crusts to bake my holiday pies. From apple to pecan and pumpkin, my pie fillings were all homemade but the crusts I trusted to Pillsbury. No more!  At least as far as a single crusted tart goes, anyway. Enter the galette – a rustic flour, sugar and butter crust that practically makes itself. Fill it with mushrooms or some fruit and you cannot go wrong. Here is the recipe in three parts: One for the crust, one for a savory mushroom filling and one for a fruit filling. First the galette itself: Dry ingredients: 2 cups all-purpose flour, and a bit extra for dusting and rolling out ½ cup non-rising plain cornmeal 2 teaspoons sugar 1 teaspoon non-iodized salt For cutting in: 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled Wet ingredients: ¼ cup ice water ¼ cup sour cream or yogurt, chilled Parchment paper for handling Like with all pie crusts, it’s important to keep the dough chilled at all times, so when you are working with the dough be sure to get it back to your refrigerator between steps so that it stays chilled.  The butter chunks need to stay cool so that they melt only when baked, helping the crust to stay light and flaky. Whisk together the dry ingredients; the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt. Leave the butter in your refrigerator until you are ready to take this step, helping to keep the whole mess chilled.  Slice all that butter into small pats and cut all of it into the dry ingredients.  You can use a pastry cutter or a pair of forks.  You can use your hands, but work quickly.  The warmth from your hands will raise the temperature of the butter pats and the dough.  Remember that those butter chunks need to stay cool and not soften too much.  You are done when the dough appears like course gravel with small pea-sized bits of butter in it. Stir the chilled sour cream or yogurt into the ice water then add the mixture to the dry ingredients a little at a time until combined.  Depending on your household humidity, age of the flour, etc., you may have to add a little water than that ¼ cup to get the right consistency.  You are aiming for moistened dough that is not gluten-plastic-sticky like bread dough.  But it definitely should clump together well when you squeeze some in your fist. Brief work counts in your favor:  The finished dough needs to get back to that ‘fridge to cool, it needs to rest a bit, and it will not be good to overwork the dough.  These are all classic rules of pastry making designed to turn out a deliciously flaky crust.  Form the dough into a ball and divide it in half.  Cover one half with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out and get it into your refrigerator to keep it chilled.  Keep it there for one hour or overnight. Throw the other half in your freezer for another time.  You can keep it there for a couple of months and defrost it overnight when needed. After one hour or overnight, remove the half-dough and roll it out to about a 12-13 inch disk that is about 1/8 inch thick.  To roll out the disk, here is where the chilling pays off.  A well-chilled work surface sticks less to the dough.  My quartz countertop works well for this since marble or quartz stays cooler than wood.  Before starting, throw a dusting of extra flour on the work surface and on the rolling pin and on the dough. This can actually be fun as you start in the middle of the disk and feel the dough squish out from the roller in the direction you choose.  When done, place the dough on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and get that disk back into the refrigerator to keep it chilled.  Prepare your choice of filling. Remember that the moisture boiled off from the chilled chunks of butter is responsible for air pockets in this non-rising dough.  Because they are chilled, the moisture/air is released at just the right time to ensure the flakiness. Savory Mushroom Ricotta Galette Filling Cheese filling ingredients: 1 cup full fat ricotta cheese ¼ cup Gruyère or mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated 1-2 tablespoons chopped rosemary or thyme Mushroom filling ingredients: 1 pound cremini, shitake or any combination of flavorful fungi 2-3 tablespoons olive oil or butter 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine 1-2 teaspoons chopped rosemary or thyme Salt 2 tablespoons white wine or an 80-20 mix of water to lemon juice for deglazing For the egg wash: 1 egg 1 tablespoon water, milk or cream A little extra cheese for sprinkling over the egg wash Preheat your over for 375 degrees. Mix together all the cheeses and some of the rosemary/thyme and a little salt in a small bowl and set aside. Heat a little of the oil in a large pan on medium high heat and sauté the mushrooms to drive out their moisture so the tart won’t get soggy.  This will take about 10-12 minutes until the mushrooms just are starting to brown. Add the garlic plus rosemary/thyme and sauté some more until softened, then toss in your wine/water/lemon juice to deglaze the pan.  Wait until that liquid evaporates then scrape everything into a separate bowl and reserve. Remove the rolled out disk of dough from the refrigerator. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly on the disk, leaving a 1 ½ - 2 inch margin at the edges.  This base of ricotta really helps keep everything moist during baking.   Layer the mushroom mixture on top of the ricotta leaving the same margin at the edges for folding.  Then fold the edges all in towards the center, pleating where needed, to finish the assembly.  No need to be perfect – this is the joy of a rustic tart like a galette. Make an egg wash by whisking together the egg and water/milk and brush it all over the edges of the galette. Sprinkle a little extra Gruyère or mozzarella on top of the wash for a completely finished look.  If you have an extra sprig of rosemary/thyme, throw that in the middle and bake. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes until browned, let cool, and serve. Alternate Filling – Honeyed Fig or other fruit For the filling base: 3 tablespoons chopped nuts – I use pecans or walnuts 1 tablespoon + 1 ½ teaspoons flour 1 tablespoon sugar Alternate filling base, which I will try next time (adapted from the mushroom filling): ¾ cup full fat ricotta cheese ¼ cup shredded Gruyere cheese, may substitute mozzarella which sacrifices flavor Salt to taste Optional chopped rosemary to taste   Glaze for the figs: 2 tablespoons honey ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon orange zest – this is an awesome addition and cannot be omitted! ½ teaspoon non-iodized salt 10-12 ounces fresh figs, stems removed and cut in half.  The larger figs need to be cut into thirds. You want to end up with about 15-20 slices. The egg wash and topping: 1 egg 1 tablespoon milk, cream or water Some Turbinado sugar to sprinkle on top of the wash Mix together the filling base (either the flour & nut or the ricotta & Gruyere) and set aside. Make the glaze by warming the honey in a microwave safe bowl, then combine with the vanilla, orange zest & salt. Add the figs, combine, and set them aside. Roll out the galette dough as for the mushroom tart. Spread the filling base onto the rolled out dough leaving a 2 inch border.  Fold in the dough edges to make a 2 inch round margin.  Set the sliced figs in the center of the tart, cut side up, touching each other to fit them all in. Brush the 2 inch crust edge with the egg wash and sprinkle some Turbinado sugar onto the wash. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes until done.  Watch for over browning of the crust.  Arrest the browning with a foil tent if needed. Let cool for 30 minutes and serve warm. Serve with home made whipped cream if you have extra energy!