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CHRISTMAS CRANBERRY GALETTE


Description: A free form tart with a crisp flaky crust topped with crunchy walnuts and sweet/tart cranberries.
 

Ingredients
Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust ( click for recipe - bottom of this page) for a 14-inch free-form tart * (14.3 ounces = 406 grams).
3/4 cup sugar, preferably superfine,** divided (5.25 ounces = 150 grams)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed (2 ounces = 54 grams)
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, picked over (10.5 ounces = 300 grams)
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (3 ounces = 85 grams)
powdered sugar
*Omit the baking powder and increase the salt to 1/4 teaspoon.

**To make your own, simply place granulated sugar in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few minutes or until fine.

 

Equipment
A 12- to 14-inch flat round heavy steel pizza pan or an inverted baking sheet, preferably black.

 

Preparation:
Make the dough for the Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust with modifications as noted above.
Macerate the Cranberries.


A minimum of 1 1/2 hours and a maximum of 24 hours ahead of baking, in a medium bowl, place the superfine sugar (reserve 1 teaspoon for the border) and the light brown sugar and use your fingertips to combine them and rub out any lumps of brown sugar. Cut each cranberry in half and add them to the sugar mixture. Stir the mixture well and set it aside for 1 hour at room temperature or, preferably, overnight in the refrigerator.

 

Stir the cranberry mixture well, then stir in the walnuts.

 

Preheat the oven to 400F. at least 20 minutes before baking. If not using a black pan, plan to bake the galette directly on the oven floor; alternatively, set an oven rack at the lowest level and place a baking stone or cookie sheet on it before preheating.

 

Using a floured pastry cloth and rolling pin sleeve rubbed with flour, or two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap,*** roll the pastry to a circle roughly 18 inches in diameter. Using an expandable flan ring or a cardboard template and a sharp knife as a guide, cut out a 16-inch circle. If the dough softens, slip it (still on the cloth or plastic wrap) onto a baking sheet and refrigerate it for about 30 minutes, covered, until firm before lining the pan. The pastry is too large to slip your hands under and support adequately. To transfer it to the pan, roll it loosely over the rolling pin or dust it lightly with flour and fold in quarters. Leave the overhang.

 

Scatter the cranberry mixture evenly over the dough, covering a 13-inch area and leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the overhanging border of dough over the outer edge of the cranberries, using your fingers to pleat it loosely at even intervals. Brush this border with a little milk or water and sprinkle on the reserved sugar. (This will give the border a crunchy texture.)

 

Cut a 10-inch round of foil and place it gently over the cranberries, leaving the crust uncovered. Bake the galette for 30 minutes.

 

Place a second round of foil large enough to cover the filling and the crust border loosely over the tart and continue baking for about 10 minutes more or until the bottom crust is golden brown. (Slip a small angled metal spatula or flexible knife under the edge of the tart, lifting it slightly, to check doneness.) Cool the tart on the pan on a rack for about 20 minutes or until warm. Dust with powdered sugar.

 

Store
Room temperature, up to 2 days.

 

Note
A half-size galette can be made using a 9-inch pan. Roll the dough less than 1/8 inch thick and large enough to cut an 11-inch circle.

 

Understanding
The challenge with this particular berry tart is to keep the cut cranberries from drying out without underbaking the crust, which would make it soggy. The solution is to make a temporary top "crust" from foil and to bake the tart on a baking stone or directly on the floor of the oven.

 

Cutting the cranberries in half and allowing them to sit with the sugar allows them to absorb the sugar. With their tough outer peel, whole cranberries would retain most of their juices, so they would not dissolve the sugar fully. This would cause the bitterness of the cranberry to stand apart from the sugar, rendering the final effect too bitter and too sweet simultaneously.

 

The crust must be prepared without baking powder, as the weight of the cranberrry/nut mixture would not be sufficient to keep it from puffing.

 

***You may have to overlap sheets of plastic wrap to roll the dough large enough.

 

Serves 6 to 8.

 

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Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust
 

Ingredients
Pastry for a 9-inch pie shell or a 9 1/2- or 10- by 1-inch tart shell
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 cup + 1 tablespoon pastry flour or 1 cup (dip and sweep method) bleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt (for savory recipes, use 1 1/2 times the salt)
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup cream cheese, cold
1 tablespoon ice water
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Pastry for a 9-inch lattice pie, a 9-inch deep-dish pie, a 10-inch pie shell, or a 12- to 14-inch free-form tart
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 1/3 cups + 4 teaspoons pastry flour or 1 1/3 cups (dip and sweep method) bleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt (for savory recipes, use 1 1/2 times the salt)
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
one 3-ounce package cream cheese, cold
1 1/2 tablespoons ice water
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

 

Pastry for a two-crust 9-inch pie
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
2 cups + 3 tablespoons pastry flour or 2 cups (dip and sweep method) bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (for savory recipes, use 1 1/2 times the salt)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, cold
2 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

 

Preparation:
Food processor method:
Cut the butter into small (about 3/4-inch) cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it until frozen solid, at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
Place the flour mixture in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds to combine. Set the bag aside.

 

Cut the cream cheese into 3 or 4 pieces and add it to the flour. Process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until none of the butter is larger than the size of a pea. (Toss with a fork to see it better.) Remove the cover and add the water and vinegar. Pulse until most of the butter is reduced to the size of small peas. The mixture will be in particles and will not hold together. Spoon it into the plastic bag. (For a double-crust pie, it is easiest to divide the mixture in half at this point.)

 

Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled.

 

Wrap the dough with the plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc (or discs) and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight. (For a pie shell and lattice, divide it in a ratio of two thirds:one third use about 9.5 ounces for the shell and the rest for the lattice, flattening the smaller part into a rectangle.)

 

Hand method:
Place a medium mixing bowl in the freezer to chill.

 

Cut the butter into small (about 3/4-inch) cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

 

Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add the cream cheese and rub the mixture between your fingers to blend the cream cheese into the flour until it resembles coarse meal. Spoon the mixture, together with the cold butter, into a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag. Expel any air from the bag and close it. Use a rolling pin to flatten the butter into thin flakes. Place the bag in the freezer for at least 10 minutes or until the butter is very firm.

 

Transfer the mixture to the chilled bowl, scraping the sides of the bag. Set the bag aside. Sprinkle the mixture with the water and vinegar, tossing lightly with a rubber spatula. Spoon it into the plastic bag. (For a two-crust pie, it is easiest to divide the mixture in half at this point.)

 

Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag, with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled.

 

Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc (or discs), and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight. (For a pie shell and lattice, divide it in a ratio of two thirds:one third use about 9.5 ounces for the shell and the rest for the lattice, flattening the smaller part into a rectangle.)

 

Store:
Refrigerated, up to 2 days; frozen, up to 3 months.

 

Understanding
A classic cream cheese crust contains no water and is more tender than an all-butter crust but not at all flaky. I have found it to be so tender it is impossible to use for a lattice top and the bottom crust often develops cracks through which a filling will leak and stick to the bottom of the pan. Very little water is needed, because the cream cheese contains 51 percent water. The addition of a small amount of water connects the two gluten-forming proteins in the flour, producing the rubbery, stretchy gluten that strenghtens the structure just enough to prevent cracking when the crust bakes. This pie crust does not shrink or distort as much as an all-butter crust because there is less development of gluten. The acidity of the vinegar weakens the gluten that forms, making the crust still more tender and less likely to shrink. If desired, it can be replaced with water.

 

Cream cheese is 51 percent water and 37.7 percent fat, so 3 ounces contain 1.53 ounces (about 3 tablespoons) or water and 1.13 ounces of fat. That means that the pie crust with 6.5 ounces of flour contains the equivalent of about 4 1/2 tablespoons of water. Compared to the all-butter crust, this crust has about 1 tablespoon more water, 1.13 ounces more of fat, and .34 ounce more milk solids. The extra fat in the cream cheese coats some of the proteins in the flour, limiting the development of gluten, which would make it tougher. The milk solids add both flavor and smoothness of texture.

 

The baking powder lifts and aerates the dough slightly without weakening it, but it also makes it seem more tender.

 

In developing this recipe, I found that if not using the vinegar and baking powder to tenderize the crust, it is advisable to add one quarter of the butter together with the cream cheese when using all-purpose flour. This helps to moisture-proof it but, of course, takes away a little from the flakiness, as there is less butter available to add in larger pieces to create layers.

 

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