When I was a kid, I managed to convince myself that I was allergic to strawberries. I’m not entirely why I came to this conclusion – I think it was probably due to me becoming violently ill after greedily eating two punnets of the things at once. Either way, I spent a large portion of my teenage years refusing to touch the things for fear of a repeat performance, adding it to the litany of food items (including bananas and grated cheese) that I developed bizarre phobias of.
Then I entered adulthood and decided to pull myself together. I’m not entirely sure when I decided I liked strawberries again. I just know that I decided to live dangerously and put a dollop of strawberry jam on my toast one morning and became hooked all over again. I love them in jams, I love them in cakes, and I simply adore them smothered in thick clouds of clotted cream. I love how the sweetness of strawberries plays off against so many other different flavours – the tang of vinegar, the sizzle and pop of pepper, and – as I’ve recently discovered – the punchiness of thyme.
This Strawberry & Thyme Galette is the perfect thing to bake if (like me) you still have a minor phobia of making pies containing soft fruits for fear that they will explode all over your oven, leaving you scrubbing bits of burnt on goo off it for the next six months. The dough comes together in minutes, it’s an absolute cinch to roll out and – joy of joys! – there’s no fiddling about with pie tins. Instead, you merely fold a deliciously scented crust over strawberries which have been macerated in lemon juice and a whole lot of zest. I think that the thyme adds a divine slightly savoury note, but if it’s not your bag, just leave it out. It’s the kind of bake which can stand up to a whole lot of fiddling (I’m already contemplating making a version where the strawberries are macerated in ginger cordial.)
The thing which brings it all together though is the honey ricotta. I’ve become slightly addicted to making my own ricotta at the moment (it’s all part of my five year plan to become the kind of woman who can bench press her own body weight and make her own cheese) and making it will make you feel like a super cool urban milkmaid. Something which I personally feel we need more of.
To celebrate the fact that I managed to make a pie and homemade cheese with no major incident, the nice folks at OXO kitchenwear have provided me with a free strawberry kit to give away to one lucky winner. It contains a strawberry huller, a set of berry bowls for all your Summer baking needs, and two punnets of strawberries from Berry World. They’ll also stick you in a prize draw to win a year’s supply of strawberries. Pretty sweet, huh? To enter, just leave a comment below saying what you’d bake with a punnet of strawberries. You’ve got until 15th July to enter, so good luck!
STRAWBERRY & THYME GALETTE WITH HONEY RICOTTA (Serves 6 – 8 people)
Inspired by Food 52
You will need:
For the thyme pastry
- 300g plain flour (plus extra for rolling)
- 150g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 tbsp dried thyme (add 1/2 tsp more if you are using fresh)
- 2 tbsps demerara sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- 50ml ice-cold water
- 1 egg, beaten, for glazing the crust
For the strawberry filling
- 1 punnet of strawberries
- 35g demerara sugar
- 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp cornflour
For the honey ricotta
- 2 pints full fat milk
- 2 tbsps lemon juice
- 1 tbsp good quality honey
- You will also need a jam thermometer and some cheesecloth for straining (although you could probably use a clean tea towel for this at a pinch)
- Preheat oven to 200° C/Gas Mark 6
- Mix together the dry ingredients. Rub the cubed butter in with your fingers until fully combined, and the butter has broken down into pea-sized pieces. (alternatively, if you have a food processor, just blitz the ingredients in this.) SLOWLY add the ice water until the dough JUST begins to come together. Turn the crust mixture out onto some clingfilm, wrap it up and flatten it into a disk. Refrigerate for 10 minutes while you prepare the strawberries.
- Hull and slice the strawberries, before combining them with the sugar, flour and cornflour. Add the juice and zest of the lemon and mix well (you’ll see the strawberries beginning to break down slightly, but they will be OK so long as you use them right away.)
- Lay a piece of baking paper which is just large enough to cover a baking sheet onto a flat surface. Remove the chilled dough from your fridge and unwrap it on this. Dust with flour, and roll it out until it is the thickness of your index finger. Spoon the strawberry filling into the centre of the crust, and spread it out, taking care to leave a 2-inch border.
- Carefully fold the crust border over the filling (don’t worry about making it look pretty, you want this to look a bit haphazard!) Brush the crust with beaten egg, and sprinkle well with the leftover demerara sugar.
- CAREFULLY slide the galette, still on the baking paper, onto your baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool for ten minutes.
- While the galette is baking, make your ricotta following this method from The Kitchn. You only need to drain the ricotta for ten minutes, as you want it to be quite soft and fluffy. Once drained, add the honey and leave to one side until the galette is baked.
- Once the galette is cool, serve immediately with a large blob of the honey ricotta. Both the ricotta and the galette should keep for around five days.