Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer Reverie: Fig Gallette

Have you ever seen or tasted something that makes you miss a time or place in a visceral, gut wrenching way? So much so that your breath catches and you feel a little queasy? Figs are one of my triggers. Just seeing them conjures up childhood memories of steamy summers and fruit laden trees ringed with fallen, rotting figs half eaten by squirrels and giving off the cloyingly sweet smell of overripe fruit on the verge of decomposition. 

Figs make me think of my Granny’s little white house in rural southern Alabama. A red dirt road leads up to and wraps around Granny's house which perches on top of a hill. We took to calling it Hart Hill after the family surname. Granny’s gone now and the house on the hill is no longer white but the imagery in my mind remains the same.

My memories of home are often evocative in such a manner. I refer to home as the cumulative places and people that informed the experiences that shaped my childhood. Granny’s house in Alabama is as much a part of home for me as the Florida beach community where I grew up. I’m not sentimental enough to invoke such sayings much, but I guess home really is where the heart is.
When I saw some pretty figs at the market last week, a flood of memories came to me. Memories of Granny, of course, and then of a conversation I had with my mom recently. She was telling me that Aunt Shelley, for whom I’m named, has been picking and canning like a mad woman. Her blueberry and fig trees are full of fruit and she’s been racing to put it all up before it goes to waste.

If I were home, I’d help my Aunt with the picking and then I’d bake a fig tart for her and mom. We’d drink coffee (never mind that it would be as hot as Hades outside this time of year) while we lingered over dessert and gossiped about other family members. While I know this won’t be possible as I’m not going to make it home before fig season is over, it’s nice to daydream while I savor a piece of fig gallette.

Fig Gallette
Adapted from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz

I only picked up one pound of small sized figs at the market as they were fairly pricey so I divided the dough and made two smaller gallettes- one fig and another with blueberries and a few blackberries that I already had on hand. I think two pounds of figs would be sufficient for a 12 inch gallette but make your own call based on the size of the fruit available. I pinched David’s idea of drizzling honey over the figs after baking from his recipe for a fig and raspberry tart.
1 ½ c all purpose flour
1 T sugar + 1 T additional for crust
½ t salt
½ c unsalted butter cut into 1-inch pieces
6 T ice water

2-3 lbs ripe figs, quartered

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. Add the chilled butter cubes and use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture is the size of large corn kernels. Add the ice water all at once, and use the cutter to mix until the dough holds together. Shape dough into a 5 inch disc and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
3. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the dough into a circle approximately 14 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet.
4. Arrange the sliced figs in concentric circles over the dough round leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the border of the dough over the figs. Brush the folded over dough with melted butter and then sprinkle additional sugar on top.
5. Bake the galette until the figs are tender and the crust has browned, about 30 minutes for a smaller gallette or 45minutes to one hour for a larger gallette. Slide the galette off the parchment paper and onto a wire rack. Drizzle honey over the fig gallette while still warm.


  1. I love the way this was written! You made me nostalgic or my grandparent's house (Pine View in the Poconos) when I would pick blackberries and huckleberries along the road and then we would make jelly with them. I can taste it right now.

  2. Yum- homemade jelly. Nothing better! I haven't made it to the Poconos yet but I've wanted to ever since I saw Dirty Dancing as a girl.

  3. Your fig galette is beautiful . . I can't wait for it to be summer!
    Love your blog & your photos. I'll be back for a visit!