When I was a child it was customary for my family to visit the farms surrounding our New Jersey home to pick blueberries. We would be out for hours and hours eating as many as we picked, a talent my sister and I learned from my dad, until our buckets were over flowing. When finally content with our bellies and buckets, blue tongues and hands we would finally emerge from the fields.
I return to that town in New Jersey each year to visit my mother and it is no mere coincidence that I arrive just as the blueberries are bursting onto the scene. The sweet aroma of nostalgia overwhelms me as I reach to collect my treasures. As I weave through the narrow rows of bushes, my hands sticky with the sweet flesh and my basket full of blushing berries. A childish innocence swells within as I reminisce the youthful days preparing homemade pies.
One of my favorite and lovingly worn cookbooks, The Are of Simple Cooking by Alice Waters, taught me how to make the perfect crust. Alice graciously imparts her secret tips for a foolproof easy to prepare crust. I use this recipe for everything: pies, tarts, galattes, sweet, savory, large, small. I believe that the phenomenal taste is due to using only unsalted organic butter. And to achieve the flakiest crust it is a must to use one part rendered lard. A word about lard – I propose that we bring back lard, ‘the great misunderstood fat’. In my generation growing up in the 70’s, lard, aka Crisco, was the shortening used in baking. REAL LARD comes good rendered pork fat. Your local butcher who carries local pastured pork should be able to help you there.
Before the berries of summer are gone, here is the best recipe for old fashion rustic blueberry galatte. Adapted from Alice Water’s, The Art of Simple Cooking.
Start with simple high quality ingredients. 2 cups stone milled organic pastry flour (I highly recommend Great River Milling brand) buy it here. plus extra flour for dusting berries and rolling out dough, 1/2 tsp. sea salt, 8 tablespoons cold unsalted organic butter and 4 tablespoon rendered lard, 1/2 cup ice-cold water, 2 cups blueberries, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp lemon juice and rind of half a lemon.
1. Whisk the flour and salt together.
2. Cut the butter into small cubes. Work the butter and lard into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or fingertips, leaving some pieces fairly large.
3. Slowly drizzle or spray the water (using a nozzle bottle) into the dough until it just begins to come together. Keep adding water if needed. It is very important to not let the dough get too moist. It should be a raggy ball. Do not handle dough too much.
4. Divide the dough into 2 balls, shape into discs and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for an hour or longer
5. Pre-heat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat; set aside.
6. In a bowl, add blueberries, pinch of flour, cinnamon, 1 tbsp lemon and rind of half a lemon. Stir and set aside. Baker’s note: I never use refined sweeteners, after all fruit is nature’s candy. Having said that, it may not be taste sweet enough for some palates.
7. On a well floured surface, roll each out into a circle, about 1/8-inch thick.
8. Add berry mixture into the center of dough, leaving about a 2 1/2-inch border all the way around. Fold dough around the fruit, pressing gently to adhere the folds. Brush edges of dough with egg. Transfer to freezer for 10 minutes.
9. Bake until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
A last word about the benefits of these indigo gems: Fresh berries are an excellent source of vitamin-C, powerful natural antioxidant, which helps develop resistance against infectious agents, counter inflammation, and scavenge harmful free radicals from the human body. Further, blackberries contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium.