Summer’s Yummiest Fruit Tarts

These rustic galettes are bursting with flavor and charm. Don’t let their elegant looks deceive you; they’re easy to make with our simple tips.

Photo by Paul Miller

It’s August—all that mouth-watering local fruit overflowing in Denver farmers markets deserves an honored place on your summer dessert table. And there’s no better way to serve it up than in fruit galettes, like the five beauties on these pages.

What’s a galette? The term sounds so terribly…French. And so difficile, besides. But galettes are less like snooty Parisian pastries and more like the barefoot Provençal country cousin to our American pie. Impressive-looking but humble. Elegant but down-to-earth.

“They’re beautiful but also rustic,” says Jayne Yelich of Sweet Jayne’s, who created the galettes on these pages. “They’re homey and simple—comfort food—and they’re delicious.”

To be frank, galettes are the perfect pies for lazy cooks. “They’re more forgiving,” says Yelich. “A pie is just a bit more of a commitment; there are more things that can go wrong.” But with galettes, you don’t even need a pie pan (a cookie sheet will do), and you don’t need all those daunting crimping skills either. Just make a simple all-purpose dough (see Yelich’s recipe), roll it out, top it with sliced fruit, tuck up the sides, and you’re done.

And always, always let the fruit do the talking. “My advice on fruits is always buy local and always buy what’s in season,” Yelich says. “If your favorite fruit in the world is peaches, and you need to have them all year round, then learn how to preserve the fruit by either canning or freezing.”

With fresh fruit, she says, “I try to let the fruit speak for itself and not oversweeten it. Always remember to taste the fruit beforehand and decide how sweet you want it to be. If you buy fruit right now, and it’s local, the sugars will have developed and it will typically be sweeter.”

Yelich has been baking her whole life, starting back in her hometown of Red Lodge, Mt. “All of the women in my family are great bakers,” she says. “My mom and my mom’s mom were both great bakers. My Grandma Dell was a pie maker; my Granny Annie was Croatian, and she’d make a pastry at Christmastime called a povitica.” Though Yelich majored in liberal arts in college, she always worked in restaurants and, after moving to Denver, went to work at Potager, where for 12 years she made the desserts. Since going out on her own four years ago, she has sold her pastries through her own Colorado Cottage Food business, Sweet Jayne’s. “I love baking in the quiet of my own kitchen.” Yelich, who makes everything from cakes to cookies, sells her goods every Sunday at the South Pearl Street Farmers Market, through her website, and via email ([email protected]).

“I love making these galettes,” she says. “People love the texture, and they love that it’s not too sweet. It’s perfect for a couple—you have a dessert one night, and then breakfast the next morning. Making the galettes is like instant gratification. You start with a pan, some dough, and some fruit, and you end up with this beautiful work of art.”

The localest of local fruits

Want to find great fruit for your own galettes? Look no further than your local farmers market and growers like Hotchkiss’s Ela Family Farms.

You’ve heard of helicopter parents. Meet a helicopter grower: Steve Ela of Ela Family Farms. He has to hover over the fruit trees on his farm in Hotchkiss. That’s the only way to make sure the cherries, peaches, pears, and apples he grows are perfect when they make it to market.

Courtesy Ela Family Farms

Take peaches, for example. “We’re pretty particular about making sure that they have the best flavor possible right off the tree, and that means picking each tree three to five times on a two- to three-day schedule,” says Ela. “It literally means yesterday afternoon they weren’t ready, this morning they were, and this afternoon they’re overripe. That’s the kind of timing we deal with during peach season. It’s very intense.”

And that doesn’t even take into account the ever-changing Colorado weather. “Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate,” Ela says. “We just pay attention, and if it rains or is cooler—or hot—we just have to be out there in the field a lot. Particularly with peaches. Apples are a bit more forgiving.”

Courtesy Ela Family Farms

That vigilance, friends, is why the fruit you get at farmers markets (Ela’s sells at 11 in Denver—seven on Saturday, three on Sunday, and one on Wednesday) tastes so juicy, rich, and, yes, fresh off the tree. Because it is.

Ela is the fourth generation of his family to farm fruit on the Western Slope. After heading off to Wisconsin for college (Beloit), and getting a master’s at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, he interned at the Land Institute in Kansas and worked for the Center for Rural Affairs and the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society before heading back home to the family farm.

His great-grandfather started the first orchard in 1907, but it was his grandfather who found the first piece of land (it’s now about 100 acres) where the Elas currently grow more than 55 varieties of fruit, including cherries, peaches, plums, pears, and apples. It’s all organic—thanks in large part to Steve’s influence. “We’ve been 100 percent certified organic since 2004. It was a direction we wanted to go in, and we hit that movement at the right time, when organics switched from being suspicious and weird to being very accepted.

“I grew up with environmentalism in my head. We grew up hiking and being outdoors a lot, so that was very important to me. As we’ve farmed, we’ve tried to keep finding ways to do things better and that don’t have an impact on the environment. We’re the only farm in the state that meets the Colorado Department of Health’s Environmental Leadership Program, which recognizes companies doing things that benefit the environment. We generate 80 percent of our own electricity, for example, and last year we were at zero food waste. Everything finds a home. Our peels and seeds and scraps from our kitchen get fed to a local pig grower. He says the pigs get so excited when he shows up with a barrel from us!”

You can find Ela’s fruit not only at farmers markets, but also at farmstands, Whole Foods, and retail stores like Marczyk Fine Foods, Lucky’s Markets, and Alfafa’s. And if it says Ela, you know it was grown right on their farm. “If you buy anything with our name on it, we grew it. That’s important to us, because we take responsibility for the quality. If it’s great, scratch our ears; if not, let us know and we’ll make it right. We grow everything. We pack everything. And we have a commercial kitchen on our farm, so we process the fruit that tastes great but is ‘cosmetically challenged’ by turning it into dried fruit, apple sauces, and jams. We are as local in Colorado as you can be.”

Tour the orchards

Ela Family Farms hosts a Farm Tour Weekend every summer. “It’s nice to put people in contact with the farm, and the tour is very interactive, with people asking lots of questions. We go through the whole process from planting a tree to fertilizing it, defending it from insects, picking fruit, processing, and getting the fruit to farmers markets. We try to make a weekend out of it for people, with a farm dinner in the field, sitting right out under the trees, and we have camping on the farm that weekend.”

Galettes, step by step

Photos by Paul Miller

Plum tart

Use all parts of the plum, and then top with layers of pretty plum slices. See recipe below.

Photo by Paul Miller

Strawberry/cherry tart

Feel free to mix berries, as in this strawberry/cherry tart. See recipe below.

Photo by Paul Miller

Peach tart

Add a half teaspoon of lemon juice to peaches to avoid browning. See recipe below.

Photo by Paul Miller

Pear-raspberry tart

For a sturdier crust, as in this pear-raspberry tart, substitute a quarter of the flour with cornmeal, buckwheat flour, or ground nuts. See recipe below.

Photo by Paul Miller

Recipes

Basic galette crust
Makes one 7-inch galette or two 5-inch galettes. Recipe easily doubles for large oval plum tart.

INGREDIENTS
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2” pieces and frozen for at least 30 minutes
1 1/4 cup flour
Small pinch salt
Large pinch sugar
3 Tbsp. buttermilk or sour cream
1 Tbsp. cream
1 egg yolk
turbinado sugar

DIRECTIONS
Cut butter into 1/2″ pieces, plate, and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Add dry ingredients to a food processor with a blade; pulse to combine. Measure 1/3 cup ice water into a vessel with a pour spout; whisk in buttermilk or sour cream. Add frozen butter to food processor and pulse in short bursts until butter is the size of peas. Add water/ dairy mixture in a slow stream, pulsing until dough just starts to come together and holds its shape when you pinch it with your fingers. (Don’t expect to use all of the liquid.) Shape the dough into a flat round disk; wrap tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper. Chill at least an hour, and preferably overnight, but not more than three days. After removing from refrigerator, let the dough sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften up. Roll out on a floured surface, parchment paper, or pastry cloth. Refrigerate again while you cut the fruit.

TO ASSEMBLE
Remove dough from fridge; add coating (ground nuts, sugar, coconut, or jam) within 2” of edge. Toss all fruit (except plums) in 1 Tbsp. sugar in bowl. Mound or layer desired fruit in the middle; don’t overfill. Top fruit with a knob of butter and a healthy drizzle of honey. Working in one direction, fold edges of crust toward middle. Chill in fridge or freezer for up to 30 min. so crust is firm, then brush crust with egg wash (1 Tbsp. cream, 1 egg yolk) and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake at 400° F for 30–35 min.

The Fillings
Use 1 1/2 c. fruit for 5-inch tart, 2 c. for 7-inch tart, and 4 c. for large oval tart.

Peaches: Peel and slice into wedges. Toss with 1 Tbsp. of sugar and 1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice.

Plums: Wash and cut into ¼” slices around the pit, slicing top to bottom until reaching the pit on both sides, making equal round slices. Next, lay down the plum and cut the remaining flesh into rectangular slices, which go underneath the fanned round slices. Sprinkle fruit with a few tablespoons of sugar after assembling.

Strawberries: Wash in a bowl of cold water and drain on a towel. For large strawberries, quarter or slice. For small strawberries, halve. Strawberries tend to shrivel during baking, so do not cut too small.

Pears: Peel, cut into 1/4” slices, and toss with 1/4 tsp. lemon juice to prevent browning.

Mixed berry: For any sort of additional berries, wash and drain (don’t wash raspberries unless absolutely necessary), halve, and remove any pits. Toss with 1 Tbsp. sugar and 1 Tbsp. arrowroot.

Sweet Jayne’s
Sweet Jayne’s has a booth at the South Pearl Street Farmer’s Market most Sundays between mid-May and mid-November; special orders available.