California, where figs grow wild early in the summer and I find myself with two baskets of calimyrna figs. Golden yellow and slightly larger than black mission figs. The ‘custard’ in calimyrnas slightly more set than that in other varieties -with crunchy, nutty seeds. The watermelon of figs.
Cory Schreiber, Wildwood founder and James Beard winner was my culinary mentor and taught me how to make this tart. He was the instructor of my very first class in culinary school. From cleaning squid, to making pasta by hand and dressing salad properly with my hands.
He taught me to trust myself. He gave me the job of cooking Hors d’oeuvre that represented him as the Best Chef Pacific Northwest, at the James Beard Awards Ceremony.
House Spirits Aquavit Oregon Smoked Salmon, Caraway Cracker, Caramelized Walla Walla, Crème Fraîche.
One day after class, he gave me his most recent cookbook: Rustic Fruit Desserts. Following the recipes and reading the instructions in almost-dialogue-style, was just like cooking by his side. A step back to the basic simplicity of food and eating. His approach to food and cooking is familiar and common, no numbers or bullet points, because food isn’t supposed to be exact. Because you know the figs you got from the neighbors’ tree are at the prime of the season and that’s what you need to know.
I used Oregon’s Boyco Foods Buckwheat Honey in the Pastry Cream to add more of a robust flavor to the calimyrna figs, but you can also let them shine -and embrace California- with a light honey.
Fig & Honey Cream Galette
Recipe from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson.
Serves 6 to 8 / Baking time: 50 to 60 minutes
1 Recipe Galette Dough
1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter
3 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Honey Pastry Cream
Seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
3/4 cup half-and-half
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 to 10 large figs, stemmed and quartered
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Creme fraiche, for serving.
– Galette Crust (makes one 10-inch) –
Put the flour, sugar, and slat into a bowl, stir to combine, then put the bowl in the freezer for about 10 minutes, until super cold.
Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes, then add it to the flour mixture and toss until each cube of butter is coated with the flour mixture. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender, food processor, electric mixer, or your hands, just until the ingredients become coarse and crumbly and the butter is slightly smaller than a pea.
Stir the water and lemon juice together, then drizzle over the dough, tossing with a fork to distribute the liquid. The pastry will be shaggy but should hold together when squeezed in the palm of your hand; if not, add an additional teaspoon or two of ice water.
Dump the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface and press down on the dough, folding it over on itself a few times until it holds together. Try not to handle it too much or it will get warm and may become over developed. Flatten the pastry out into a disk approximately 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
[Storage: If wrapped well, the disk will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in the freezer. Defrost the frozen dough in the refrigerator over night.]
– Honey Pastry Cream –
To make the pastry cream, put the vanilla bean seeds into a sauce pan. Add the half-and-half and vanilla bean pod and cook over medium heat until hot, but not boiling. Separately, whisk the egg yolks, honey, sugar, and salt together in a bowl and continue whisking until slightly thickened and lighter in color. Add the cornstarch and whisk until combined. Slowly pour half of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, stirring constantly until well blended. Pour the yolk mixture back into the sauce pan and cook over medium heat, until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, then whisk in the butter. Discard the vanilla bean pod. Stir occasionally until cool.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it generously with cooking spray. Roll the dough into a 13-to 14-inch circle, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet. It should overhang the sheet a bit.
Spread the cooled pastry cream over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border around the edge. Arrange the fig quarters in a circular pattern, skin side down and stem end facing into the center, again leaving a 2-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle the sugar over the figs. Fold the outer edge of the dough over the outermost figs, pleating the dough as necessary. Put the galette in the refrigerator for 1 hour to chill and relax the dough.
Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375° F. Bake the galette in the bottom third of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes before serving, topped with a dollop of creme fraiche.
Storage: Covered with a tea towel, this galette will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Photos by Javier Cabral theglutster.com