Late summer. August. The season of purple cone flower and golden yarrow, cicada song, heat, and stone fruit. Peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots . . . the apples and pears are close behind, but for now it’s all about achingly sweet fruit that melts into pastry dough and oozes out of pie crust. Welcome to my favorite part of summer. This quote from Natalie Babbitt sums it up perfectly for me (though sadly, we are already past the first week in August).
“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.”
(from Tuck Everlasting)
I found a crate of nectarines at the grocery this week. They were so ripe I could smell them almost as soon as I walked into the store. I prefer nectarines to peaches because I’m not overly fond of fuzzy peach skin. They are not quite as sweet as peaches, but nearly. And they meet this galette, saturated in brown sugar and cinnamon, the way the first week in August meets September. —A final sweet hurrah of summer.
NECTARINE AND BROWN SUGAR GALETTE
BUTTERMILK PIE CRUST
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup chilled buttermilk
In a food processor, whirl the butter, flour, and salt until crumbly. Then, one teaspoon at a time, add the buttermilk until a dough forms. The trick here is not to overwork the dough or let it get warm. You don’t want the butter melting into the dough, but rather staying rather crumbled within it—those butter bits are what will make the dough flaky when it bakes.
3 very ripe nectarines, sliced and pitted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup flour
In a bowl, gently combine the sliced fruit with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour. The flour will help thicken the juices and sugar as they galette bakes, but there will be extra juice in the bowl. You can leave this and discard it when you scoop the fruit onto the pastry.
Roll the pastry out between two pieces of parchment paper until you have a 1/4 inch thick circle about 12 inches in diameter. Remove the top sheet of paper and scoop the nectarines into the center of the rolled dough, leaving 2 1/2 inches around the outside edge free of fruit. Taking an edge of the dough, bring it up onto the fruit and press it gently. Bring the next edge, beside the one you just creased, up beside it and onto the fruit, gently pressing it onto itself. Go around the circle, pulling the dough up onto itself, one bit at a time until the whole thing is self contained in a sort of pastry-pocket. The beauty of a galette, is that you do not need a pie pan!
Slip the bottom layer of paper with the galette on top, onto a flat baking sheet and bake on 350-degree preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until golden brown across the top.
Allow to cool before serving.