A rustic rhubarb galette showcases spring's bounty of mouthwatering fresh rhubarb spiked with another special spring offering - spruce tips! This free-form pie is so easy to make, yet looks like a stunning masterpiece . . . and tastes like one, too. (Skip to recipe.)
It's rhubarb season and spruce tip season - so what should we do? Why not put them together? The subtle citrus notes of the tender new buds on your favourite evergreen tree are a lovely complement to the tart notes of rhubarb.
I love cooking with spruce tips. The unique and fresh flavour of these little buds enhances so many foods. Just pick them off the tree with a slight twist, remove the papery brown husk, and they're ready to chop up and add to all sorts of dishes. You can even use them when the tips have opened up and are longer, though still soft - as long as they're still soft enough to dent them with your fingernail. See this post for pictures of how large they can be.
Used fresh, like in this green salad or this citrusy one, the flavour of spruce tips is much more 'piney' and pronounced, but once cooked, the spruce tip flavour is very delicate and subtle, like in this stuffed pork loin with spruce tips and orange glaze. Spruce tips go particularly well with earthy foods, like sautéed mushrooms or potatoes in a cream sauce or with roasted asparagus. You can pickle spruce tips, and make spruce tip vinegar or spruce tip salt with them, but my favourite combination is spruce tips and rhubarb, like in this delectable Swedish Cream with Roasted Rhubarb and Spruce Tips. And since it seems to be pie time in our house lately, here's a yummy one for you.
I'm not sure where the saying 'As easy as pie' came from, because sometimes pie is not so easy to make (but if you have a few bags of my gluten-free pie crust mix in your freezer, half the work is done already).
However, a galette is a different story. It's definitely as easy as pie - much easier, in fact!
This open-faced French pie (or crostata in Italian) requires you only to roll out the pastry, plop on the filling, and fold up the edges. No particular neatness required - in fact, it's supposed to look a bit messy. That's part of its rustic charm. The pastry folds can be thick or thin, rumpled or smooth. Sometimes some of the filling leaks out, but that's okay, too. All good. That crisp crust enclosing a plump, glistening filling - that's the beauty of a galette.
Let's get baking. Chop up the rhubarb and spruce tips, stir them up with a bit of sugar and thickener:
Plop the filling onto the rolled out pastry:
Fold up the edges, brush with milk and sugar to make an extra crunchy crust. Dab with butter to keep the top of the filling nice and shiny:
And then . . . ta-da! . . . this is the ruby and gold beauty that comes out of the oven.
Serve this luscious rhubarb galette warm with a scoop of ice cream melting into it or a dollop of whipped cream adorning it, or let it cool and eat it any time. Your taste buds will have a party dancing with the tart, soft little nubs of rhubarb. They melt on your tongue, leaving behind the faint whisper of the spruce woods, the memories of a green forest with dappled sunlight through the mossy evergreens. This rhubarb galette is spring's gift to you - bounty from the garden and forest.
(And if you haven't got a forest, maybe your neighbour's spruce tree will gift you with a few tender morsels 😉 )
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Kitchen Frau Notes: See the end of the recipe for a couple variations, in case you don't have a spruce tree in your yard and your neighbour won't let you filch from his tree (tell him you're doing him a favour and pruning his tree for him so it'll be even more bushy next year - truly).
- pastry for a single crust pie (for gluten free pie crust recipe see here)
- 4 cups (550gms) rhubarb, cut in ½ inch (1cm) pieces
- ⅔ cup (140gms) + 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) chopped spruce tips (*or see variations below)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2-3 teaspoons almond milk, dairy milk, or water
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Roll out the pastry dough between two sheets of parchment paper, into a 12" (30cm) circle. (See the bottom of this post for a good tip on how to roll between paper.)
Peel off the top layer of paper and discard it. Transfer the bottom layer of parchment, with the pastry circle still attached, to a baking sheet - a pizza pan works really well for this. Set the pan with the pastry crust into the fridge to chill while you make the filling.
Cut the rhubarb into ½ inch (1cm) slices. Clean the brown papery husk off the spruce tips and chop the spruce tips coarsely. Place the rhubarb and spruce tips into a bowl. Add the salt, cornstarch, and sugar. Toss to combine everything well. Scrape the mixture into a pile on top of the pastry circle in the pan. The sugar and cornstarch will settle between the rhubarb chunks. Level the rhubarb chunks into a neat circle, leaving a 2 inch (5cm) border of pastry uncovered.
Very carefully fold up the pastry border, pulling up on the parchment paper to help lift the pastry. Pleat the pastry and press the folds gently down onto the rhubarb filling as you go around the circle.
Dot the filling with little bits of the butter. Brush the pastry border with the milk and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden.
Remove the galette from the oven and leave it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
Leaking bits of filling are normal with galettes, and add to their rustic charm. If there's a big puddle of liquid that has leaked out, try to scrape some of it up with a teaspoon and drizzle it back onto the center of the galette.
Gently slide the galette with the paper onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or let cool completely.
If letting the galette cool, remove it from the paper to the cooling rack. To do this, slide a thin metal spatula between the galette and the paper and run it all the way around the galette to make sure it isn't sticking to the paper anywhere. Then slightly lift one side of the galette with the spatula and pull the parchment paper out from underneath, leaving the galette resting on the cooling rack. Leave it there until it is completely cool. This helps the bottom crust to stay crisp.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, if desired.
*Rhubarb Basil Galette: replace the spruce tips with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil. Another winning combination.
*Plain Rhubarb Galette: replace the spruce tips with 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Simple and delicious.
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