Plum Galette

HOT.

That’s what today is. One word pretty much sums it all up. We’re currently in the middle of a California heat wave. It was 104 degrees at the peak of hotness, and the AC is still going strong.

Of course, I’m sure this is nothing compared to the weather in other regions. You’re probably laughing at me right now. I know, we’re so spoiled here!

The dry hotness is an interesting contrast to the tropical weather we had last week: balmy, drizzly, and oddly humid. Yep, it was basically Hawaii outside. As a result, outdoor activities, such as tennis, were a no-go that afternoon. So, it was either baking and picture-taking or practicing the violin for four hours. Seeing that I struggle to practice for more than thirty minutes without having a mini-meltdown, the choice was obvious.

Last weekend, our neighbor let us pick plums from her plum tree in her front yard. We literally came back with fifty clementine-sized ripe plums. They were delicious, but we couldn’t eat all fifty fast enough, so I baked some of them into a galette. By “some”, I mean six; I really made a dent in our plum supply, obviously.

That brings me to my next point: the techniques and how-tos of plum-pitting. How the heck am I supposed to pit six tiny plums, by hand, in a timely manner? I still don’t know the answer to that, since it took me a good half-hour to pit and slice. It was kind of an ordeal. I highly suggest using plums that are on the heftier side or investing in a plum pitter, just to save time and prevent excessive frustration.

Despite my troubles with the pitting process, I am really pleased with the finished product. This was my first time baking a galette, so I really didn’t know what to expect. The crust is flaky and pleasantly crunchy thanks to the sugar, which contrasts nicely with the tart plums. I’m not the biggest fan of cooked fruit, but this passed the test! A scoop of vanilla ice cream served on the side is diviiiine. So elegant and classy.

Plum Galette

Dough:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 tbsp. butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 tbsp. cold water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg beaten with one tbsp. water
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

For the Plum Filling:

  • 5 plums, pitted and sliced into small wedges (the number varies depending on the size of the fruit)
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Start with the dough. Combine the butter chunks, flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the mixture until it has the texture of coarse meal. Add the vanilla extract, and pulse briefly until combined. Transfer the loose mixture to a medium bowl. Add the cold water a tablespoon at a time, and stir with your hands until the dough holds together; you may not need all three tablespoons of water. Pat the dough into a small disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for thirty minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Toss together the sliced plums with the sugar, flour, lemon zest, and spices in a medium bowl. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle the parchment with flour and a generous amount of turbinado sugar.
  3. Remove the dough from the fridge and allow it to soften enough so that it doesn’t crack when you roll it out. Then, roll it out into a circle on a lightly floured surface. Trim the edges to create a nice, clean round circle. Transfer the dough circle to the parchment-covered pan. Arrange the fruit in the middle of the circle, leaving a two-inch border of dough. Carefully fold the edges over the fruit, lightly pinching the folds so that they hold together. It doesn’t have to be perfect (unless you’re a perfectionist like me)!  Brush the dough with the egg/water mixture and sprinkle it with turbinado sugar.
  4. Bake the galette for about 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.

Enjoy!

Magic Custard Cake with Strawberry Balsamic Sauce

Gang aft a-gley.

This phrase is from the 18th century Scottish poem “To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns. It translates to “often goes awry.” John Steinbeck derived the title for his novel, Of Mice and Men, from these lines in Burn’s poem: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” Like the title implies, one of the main themes in OMAM is that plans often go awry.

I was reminded of this today. I thought I was going publish this nice little piece about how my world is currently free of AP and Blueprint stress and I’m just happy as a clam. That draft is currently lost in cyperspace somewhere. But, at this point, the blurb is stale and irrelevant, so it doesn’t matter anyways.  I also thought I was going to have my dream class schedule for junior year. That fantasy went out the window today.  Actually, it didn’t just “go out”;  it was defenestrated.

The only bright side to this unfortunate situation is that it has given me a big wake-up call. I have an opportunity to reconsider what I really want for the next few years and maybe make a few smart changes. Do I want to be that kid who takes three AP/honors classes (plus Blueprint, so really five APs), has no life, but has a good chance of getting into GOOD colleges? Or do I want to take it easy and lessen my chances of going wherever I want to go? Which will I regret more? Where are my priorities? I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW.

Truthfully, even if I got my dream schedule, it wouldn’t be a dream at all. So there’s that.

I don’t know what I’m going to do at this point. I’m sure everything will turn out the way it should in the end. It will be okay. Everything happens for a reason. I just keep trying to tell myself that.

Gang aft a-gley.

Magic Custard Cake with Strawberry Balsamic Sauce

Recipe Notes: This cake is very unique; that’s one thing I do know. It separates into three “magical” layers: cake, soft custard, and a firm custard base! Check out Todd and Diane’s post for a chocolate version of this recipe. I haven’t tried it yet myself, but I’m sure it’s fantastic. If you like custard anything, I imagine you’ll enjoy this!

(For the Cake)

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups reduced-fat  milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups (150g) confectioner’s (powdered) Sugar
  • 1 tbsp. (15ml) Water
  • 1 cup (115g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. (5ml) Vanilla Extract
  • pinch of salt
  • extra confectioner’s sugar for dusting

(For the Sauce)

  • 1 1/4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

(For the Cake)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 8×8 baking dish with buttered parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter and set aside to slightly cool. Warm the milk to lukewarm and set aside.
  3. Whip the egg whites and drop of vinegar until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  4. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until light. Whisk in the melted butter and the tablespoon of water for about 2 minutes or until evenly incorporated.
  5. Mix in the flour until evenly incorporated. Slowly beat in the milk, salt, and vanilla extract by hand until everything is evenly combined. Be careful, as the batter is very thin and will splash if mixed too vigorously.
  6. Fold in the egg whites, 1/3 at a time. Repeat until all of the egg whites are incorporated.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan; it will almost reach the top, which is fine. Bake the cake for 45-60 minutes or until the top is golden.The center will still jiggle a bit if shaken gently.  Allow the cake to cool completely. Using the sides of the parchment paper, lift the cake out of the baking dish and place it on a cutting board. Slice the cake into sixteen squares using a serrated knife. For clean cuts,  wipe the knife blade off with a wet paper towel after each slice.  Dust the squares with powdered sugar and drizzle with the strawberry balsamic sauce.

Directions for Strawberry Sauce

  1. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook the mixture until the sugar dissolves; stir constantly.
  2. Add in the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper. Cook the mixture for an additional 10-15 minutes until it is syrupy. Stir occasionally, and mash the strawberries a bit. Remove the finished sauce from the heat and cool completely.