“The season of bounty …
… is here.” That’s how one of the vendors at the Albany Farmers’ Market put it this morning, grinning as she tucked my purchase into my backpack for me. Looking around at stalls brimming with variety, I couldn’t argue: Snap peas and sugar peas, lettuce and leeks on one table, flats of berries and cherries on another; late asparagus over there, jams and jellies and honey over here, fresh-baked bread nearby. We’ve finally reached the season of more food than flowers – not that I have anything against flowers, but they aren’t why I go to the market.
Never mind that the weather is still cloudy and cool (the farmers don’t). It’s summer. Just look at the calendar: Solstice falls tomorrow, and while we in North America tend to call it the first day of summer, I like the older traditions of people who marked the start of summer and planting season in May, and thought of the solstice as mid-summer. Which makes tonight Mid-Summer’s Eve, a night to frolic and feast and enjoy the longest day of the year.
Which seems as good an excuse as any to do something special but easy with the gorgeous cherries I brought home from the market today, in a mixed flat with strawberries and raspberries (which will probably get eaten plain, by the handful, if my berry-red fingertips are any indication.)
Really good fruit doesn’t need much help. A simple preparation that focuses on the flavor (and doesn’t tie you to the kitchen on a summer’s day) is just the thing. I thought about cherry pie, with the ruby-red fruit bubbling up in the interstices of a latticed crust, but that takes work, and who am I out to impress today, anyway? Still: Cherries … pie crust … hmmm… ooh, ooh – cherry galette!
A galette is just an easy, rustic pie. Instead of laying the crust in a pie pan and fiddling with a top crust, you center it on a baking sheet, mound the fruit in the center and pull up the dough to partly cover the top. The filling needs less liquid than you might use in a pie – otherwise it tends to leak out before it sets. Bake and serve as you would any old pie.
This recipe makes a small galette – big servings for two, or small ones for four. The almonds and kirshwasser are chosen to punch the pure cherry flavor, and that they do!
Mid-Summer Cherry Galette
- Crust for a single-layer pie. Make your own, or buy it in the refrigerator case
- 2 pints ripe local cherries, pitted and halved. (A cherry pitter makes this a snap!)
- 2 tsp kirschwasser (cherry eau de vie) or lemon juice
- 1/4 cup + 1 tsp sugar, more or less, depending on the sweetness of your cherries. I like to taste fruit, not just sugar.
- 1/4 cup almond meal. I use Bob’s Red Mill, but it’s easy enough to grind up a handful of raw almonds in the food processor.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Roll out pie crust on a baking sheet (I used a tart pan because it was handy).
Toss cherries with 1 tsp of the kirsch (or lemon juice, if your cherries are especially sweet).
Mix 1/4 c sugar and almond meal; toss that with the cherries. I chose almond meal as a binder for the juicy cherries because almond and cherry are well-matched flavors – and because typical fruit pie thickeners – corn starch, tapioca – can result in a gluey filling. Besides, I had almond meal in the pantry.
Mound filling in the center of the crust; pull up the edges, pleating and pinching as you go, to mostly cover the fruit. Don’t worry if it isn’t symmetrical – galettes are supposed to look rustic!
Brush crust with remaining kirsch or lemon juice; sprinkle with remaining tsp sugar.
Bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Some juice will invariably leak out.
Serve warm or cool. Top with ice cream – or creme fraiche!