I've been thinking lately about the function of a recipe-- how it is inherently a teaching text. That seems obvious, but I think it's something I often forget. How these thoughts translate to my own purposes is:
1) In how I interact with a recipe and consider the type of recipe I like to follow and 2) In how I can best write recipes in a way that not only teaches the reader how to make the thing that the recipe is in fact describing, but that also allows the reader how to have their own agency. I don't want my recipes to be so proscriptive that a reader doesn't feel like they can stray from it, improvise, or use their own variation. Because ideally, they will make it their own. To take that one step further, I've been considering how a recipe--or at least one in the form we think of it--could become unnecessary--where a text or combination of text and image might not be proscriptive at all but rather inspirational. It's like the difference between a traditional classical music score and something by John Cage or Pauline Oliveros or Christian Wolff where there is a range of variability allowed for, welcomed even, in each performance of the piece.
I'm not entirely sure what that all means for my recipe writing and for this blog, but it's something I'd like to experiment with more here and elsewhere. It feels exciting--a way to bring more experimentation and creativity to my own baking and the baking of others. Now I'm in a sense going to forgo all of what I just said and give you a pretty standard recipe, but with the side note that hopes to allow for some inventiveness and imagination.
Galettes are one of my favorite things to make because of all the possibilities they can inspire. They can be as simple as pastry, fresh fruit, and a sprinkling of sugar, or involve multiple ingredients and processes. This particular time I was called to the leaf-on satsuma oranges at the grocery store (I know I'm hitting the tail end of citrus season here, but spring was late so I'm using that as my excuse). But I've made galettes in all sorts of varieties--sweet and savory. For savory dishes they are a great way to combine multiple ingredients but for dessert galettes, I usually like to stick with one type of very fresh fruit. It's a great way to showcase what's in season and let the fruit itself shine. You can also try different crusts--I've used my standard pie crust recipes but also rye crusts, buckwheat crusts, cream cheese crusts (like I use here) and more.
Here are a few galettes I've made in the past, along with a new recipe for a Satsuma Orange Galette with a Cream Cheese Crust (which is a variation on this Blood Orange Galette I made long ago). Hopefully they'll provide a little inspiration for your own kitchen improvisation, or as my friend Mandy calls it "free jazz baking."
Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread Galette
Ham, Gruyere & Caramelized Onion Galette with Fried Egg
Heirloom Tomato-Ricotta Galette
Swiss Chard & Goat Cheese Galette
Tri-color Potato, Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese & Rosemary Galette
Plum & Orange Flower Custard Galette
Simple Rhubarb Tart
Strawberry Rhubarb and Wine-Soaked Fig Rustic Tart
1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp. raw Turbinado sugar
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
5 Tblsp. salted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
4 Tblsp. cream cheese
3 Tblsp. ice water
1 large egg yolk mixed with 2 Tblsp. of water
1. Whisk 1 cup of flour with 2 Tblsp. sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the 4 Tblsp. of cold butter in sliced pieces and cream cheese and cut into flour mixture with a knife and fork or pastry cutter. Sprinkle the dough with the ice water and combine until pastry can be formed into a disk. Wrap pastry in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
2. On a floured work surface, roll out pastry to an 11-in. round, about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the pastry to a parchment paper–lined flat cookie sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, peel the oranges, removing all of the bitter white pith with a knife. Thinly slice 2 of the oranges crosswise and remove the pits. Transfer the orange slices to a plate. Cut in between the membranes of the remaining oranges, along section lines. You will need 1 cup of sections.
4. Arrange the orange sections on the pastry, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Sprinkle 2 Tblsp. of sugar over the oranges. Thinly slice the remaining 1 Tblsp. of butter over the oranges. Fold up the pastry over the oranges, leaving most of the oranges uncovered. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with 1 Tblsp. of the sugar. Arrange the orange slices on top, leaving a 1-in. border of pastry all around. Sprinkle the remaining 1 Tblsp. of sugar on top. Freeze the tart until solid, at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
5. Preheat the oven to 375° and position a rack in the center. Place a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drips. Bake the tart directly from the freezer for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the pastry is deeply browned. Let the tart cool completely. Serve with salted butter caramel sauce, if so desired. Recipe here.