Supposedly, hot weather makes people less likely to pine for baked goods than cold weather. Or so I hear. I can only assume that it is the act of turning on and, thusly, heating an oven that makes baking more of a welcome winter affair than a summer one, because, and this should come as absolutely no surprise whatsoever, I’ve never known a season that was unfit for baking.
Summer baking is, of course, different from winter baking, but really only by virtue of what you choose to be the star of your recipe. Winter definitely makes me feel more inclined to fuss over things that fall into the category of being rich and chocolatey, but the main attraction of my favorite summertime desserts almost always lean towards being fresh and fruit-filled. Sure, fall is a haven of fruity desserts as well—with pears and apples galore just begging to be caramelized or topped with a crispy and nutty blanket—but summer fruits differ from autumn fruits in that the choice of baking them will always be up to the dessert maker’s whim.
Cream tarts and trifles (and a wonderful pie that I will be sharing with you soon) are a great way to showcase uncooked fruit in a dessert that shares the spotlight with several different elements (lemon cream, semolina cake, whipped cream, lemon-scented yogurt and cream cheese, etc.), but one should never be discouraged from taking a stab at baking the plethora of summertime fruit that is available and ready to be found and adorned with such ease.
This galette, featuring heavenly scented nectarines and plump raspberries, is a great place to start investigating the benefits of summertime baking. The fruit, barely sweetened, gets enveloped in a fantastically crunchy and buttery cornmeal crust that provides a perfectly crisp, almost cookie-like contrast to the fruit. Beneath the fruit lies a light and surprising dusting of ground almonds that contributes a slight sturdiness to the dessert without leaving any trace of heaviness. Eaten alone, or with a generous dollop of very lightly sweetened whipped cream, it’s a fantastic introduction to summertime baking, and, I hope, an encouragement to never shy away from baking, no matter the season.
Nectarine and Raspberry Galette in a Cornmeal Crust
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound nectarines
4 ounces fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons ground almonds or almond meal
3 teaspoons sugar, divided
1 tablespoon flour
Make the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Sift the flour, cornmeal, and salt directly into the mixture. Add the vanilla and stir until the dough is thoroughly mixed. Divide the dough in half and gather into 2 balls. Wrap the balls in plastic, press them into discs, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Since you will need only 1 disc of dough for this recipe, feel free to freeze or refrigerate the other disc until you are ready to use it. The wrapped dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Assemble the galette:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
To roll out the dough, cut out a 14-inch square piece of parchment paper. Dust the parchment paper with flour. Take a disc of dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap it from the plastic wrap, and place on the flour parchment. Lightly flour the dough then place the plastic wrap on top of the disc of dough. Rolling on top of the plastic wrap, roll out the disc into a 13-inch circle.
Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the circle of dough. Place the rolled-out dough, still on the parchment paper, on a baking sheet and refrigerate while you prepare the filling ingredients.
Cut each nectarine in half, remove the pit, and each half cut into 4 wedges.
In a small bowl, combine ground almonds, 2 teaspoons of the sugar, and flour.
Remove the chilled, rolled-out dough from the refrigerator. Sprinkle the almond mixture over the top of the dough, leaving uncoated a 1 ½ inch border at the edges. Place nectarines, skin side down, in a single layer on top of the almond mixture, still leaving empty the uncoated edges. Place raspberries on top of the nectarines, nestling the berries into any open crevices in between the nectarines.
While rotating the tart, fold the border of exposed dough up and over itself at regular intervals, crimping and pushing it up against the fruit. Pinch closed any breaks or cracks in the dough. Sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar over the top of both the fruit and the folded-over edges of dough.
Bake on the center rack of the oven for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the edges of the fruit have started to caramelize.
Cool for at least 20 minutes before eating, so as to allow the hot fruit juices to stabilize a bit.