I am not a photographer by trade. When I first started The Brick Kitchen, I had hardly picked up a camera aside from a few blurred, yellow-lit iPhone snaps of desserts – which at the time I was quite proud of. I took it up by necessity: it’s difficult to make headway with sharing on social media without making it at least a little aesthetically pleasing. I can’t say it wasn’t a challenge – trawl back through the archives and you’ll see what I mean. (Actually, maybe don’t do that!) But I have grown to enjoy it – always on the lookout for new asymmetric plates, speckled bowls and vintage props, acquiring new backdrops and wishing I had more time to dedicate to trying something like stop-motion video. My only disappointment lately was finding a gorgeous thick piece of matte veined marble from a local tiling shop, and having to leave it at home in Auckland because it weighed something like 40 kilograms. Not going to happen on an international flight, that’s for sure.
Though it has gradually progressed, sometimes the a photography session just doesn’t go as planned. Like the individual pomegranate meringues that I struggled with over two days before finally giving up, or the pear pavlova that cracked and sank and became messier the longer I spent, mascarpone dripping down the sides. (Just writing that it seems that part of might problem might be with meringues in general!) But there was also the mini cakes that became a torrential blizzard of icing sugar, obscuring all the chocolate from view, and the uninspiring tiramisu jars that tasted like heaven and looked like preschooler-produced mayhem. Does anyone else have these issues? I can’t help but feel a vague sense of disappointment, like it’s effort wasted, but remind myself mistakes have to happen for eventual improvement – right?
But other times everything works. I manage to leave enough time to avoid the frantic hour before the light goes blue and stops streaming through the window, the colours work and I can’t even pinpoint what happens – it just clicks. Then my absolute favourite part of the whole process occurs.
I finish taking photos, happy with what I’ve managed, usually with tired legs from standing in the kitchen for most of the day and hungry from working through lunch. When it happens with something like this fig galette, the last piece I’ve photographed is sitting on a pretty plate with one of my grandmother’s silver dessert forks, and I’m shooting either on the kitchen table or down on the floor. Here I’d already scooped creamy vanilla ice cream onto my still-warm galette, which was starting to melt in rivulets down through the figs and rye pastry. And I sit there and eat it. Usually by myself, usually at an odd hour of the afternoon, and usually with my music playing through speakers in the background. And it is THE most satisfying thing I do. It sounds strange, probably, and I’m not sure why. I suppose knowing all the hours that went into researching and trialling the recipe, and then having the photos work out and discovering that it tastes like you’d dreamed of? The best.
I had that moment with this fig, blackberry & hazelnut rye galette. I hadn’t baked with figs before, and their subtle, delicate flavour was enhanced with the oven time, with the sweetness supplemented by juicy blackberries. The hazelnut frangipane is spread underneath the fruit in nut buttery layer that merges with the rye pastry below. That rye pastry is another revelation, courtesy of Yossy Arefi’s Sweeter Off the Vine – it may crack a little more easily than plain flour, but the nutty, savoury flavour it imparts is worth it. Galettes are also my favourite kind of tart – the least fussy, the most rustic, and the easiest to patch up. The fastest too, and when they come out of the oven, smelling of butter and bubbling with ripe fruit – you can’t beat it. It feels like the kind of dessert that everyone can dig into without hesitation – relatable, not intimidating.
- ⅔ cup (85g) rye flour
- ⅔ cup (85g) all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 125g (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon) very cold unsalted butter,
- ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup (60ml) ice water
- ½ cup toasted hazelnuts, ground to a fine meal
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons (45g) butter
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons rye flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or essence
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons flour
- pinch of salt
- 6-7 large figs, sliced into thick pieces (I did about 3 slices per fig)
- 1 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt
- demerara sugar for sprinkling
- In a large bowl, combine both flours and salt.
- Cut the butter into small cubes. In a separate cup, combine the vinegar and ice water.
- Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture, pressing the cubes into flat shards of butter crumbled through the flour.
- Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of the cold vinegar-water mixture over the flour, and stir in gently your hands until just combined. Add more cold water if it seems to dry, and there is enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and press it together without it falling apart.
- Press the dough together into a circular dish and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Make the hazelnut frangipane filling.
- In a small bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg and vanilla to fully combine.
- Add salt, rye flour and hazelnuts, and stir gently until just combined.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- In a large bowl, combine the vanilla, lemon zest, caster sugar, flour and salt.
- Add the figs and blackberries and toss very gently to coat.
- On a piece of baking paper, roll out the rye pastry into a large circle, about 30cm in diameter.
- Spread the hazelnut frangipane over the middle circle, leaving a 4-5cm border around the edge.
- Arrange the fruit gently on top of the frangipane. Fold the edges of the pastry over the fruit and press to seal any folds. Seal any cracks in the rye pastry. Chill the tart in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Whisk together the egg with a teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt to form an egg wash. Brush over the pastry edge of the tart, then sprinkle with demerara sugar.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Let cool about 15-20 minutes before serving with mascarpone or ice cream.