A ritual included in my annual sojourn to my favorite blueberry U-pick farm — it’s the glorious Rush River Produce, in Maiden Rock, Wis. — is the mental list I formulate as I methodically separate berries from their bushes.
Pancakes. Muffins. Coffee cakes. Parfaits. Crisps. Smoothies. Cobblers. Pops.
Basically, it’s all the ways that I could be putting those sweet-tart berries to use. That is, when I’m not tossing them over ice cream, or just simply scarfing them by the handful, like popcorn.
But recently at the farm, as I slowly but surely filled a cardboard box with delicate, juicy, blush-covered blueberries, the word that kept popping into my brain was “galette.”
That’s because in 2014 we asked Laurie Lin, baker/co-owner of Cocoa & Fig, to create a recipe that took full advantage of that happy intersection between rhubarb and strawberry seasons. She obliged with this roundish tart.
Maybe it would work with blueberries? Turns out Lin was way ahead of me.
“It’s super-versatile,” she said. “Along with the rhubarb-strawberry, we’ve done mixed berry, and we make a peach-blackberry version.”
In the fall, she turns to apples, making a slight modification in the recipe by sauteing the apples in butter — just to soften them a bit — then seasoning them with cinnamon.
“And because we always have streusel lying around, I sprinkle the apples with a bit of streusel,” she said. “It’s like an apple crisp in a galette form, and it’s really delicious.”
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(For streusel, Lin combines 1/2 cup each of flour, sugar, brown sugar and rolled oats, then adds small amounts of cinnamon, salt and freshly grated nutmeg. “It’s my grandmother’s recipe,” she said.)
Back to blueberries.
What I most appreciate about Lin’s always-beautiful galette — other than its ability to generate a rave from our dinner guests, even before they taste it — is how easy it is to prepare.
True-confessions time: The prospect of making and rolling out a pie crust leaves me paralyzed with fear. I never get it right. Ever. And trust me, I’ve tried. But the dough for this galette? Because its forgiving, rough-hewed appearance is not about perfection, it’s perfect.
Lin wasn’t kidding when she invoked “super-versatile.” The filling in the original recipe calls for nearly even amounts of both chopped rhubarb and sliced strawberries, the sum of which totals about 3 cups. That’s the amount I measured out in blueberries.
After I juiced half a lemon, it occurred to me that the fruit’s zest might elevate the berries’ taste-of-summer essence. Turns out, my instincts were in sync with Lin’s.
“Sometimes we’ll do lemon zest or orange zest,” she said. “I feel like it brightens things up a bit, especially with berries.”
Thanks to Lin, our freezer’s treasured stash of blueberries (frozen in a single layer in a pan, then stored in plastic bags) now has a companion: a few made-ahead disks of that cornmeal-enriched dough. (If using frozen berries, there’s no need to thaw before baking this recipe.) Blueberry season has never looked — or tasted — better.
I can’t wait to try it with raspberries.