I cannot remember when I ate my first Nespole. Growing up in Germany, they were not the kind of thing your local supermarket would stock. So it was likely on one of our regular Saturday trips to the ‘Jerusalem Markt’, our local North African/Middle Eastern grocer where my parents had made a habit of stopping by at least once a week ever since their return from living in Morocco.
‘Jerusalem Markt’ was everything a German supermarket was not. It was messy and loud. There were boxes everywhere. The floor in front of the cheese and dairy counter was covered in numerous open barrels full of different kinds of marinated olives. To my horror (at the time), as soon as my dad stepped foot into ‘Jerusalem Markt’ he would plunge the ladle deep into one of these barrels and fish out a small handful of olives to munch on while my mum and him did their shopping, every so often flipping an olive stone onto the pavement out one of the store’s two doors.
What made the ‘Jerusalem Markt’ special was that unlike German supermarkets in the late 80s and 90s, the fruits and vegetables it sold were ripe (sometimes too much so), the bunches of herbs were generous (try and make tabbouleh with the meagre offerings of parsley you will find in an average German supermarket!) and fragrant. You could also buy 1kg tubs of thick Bulgarian yoghurt for cacik, a lamb shoulder for your Sunday roast and pick up some baklava for your coffee – all in a space barely larger than our living room. Plus there were those marinated olives.
Back to Nespole. Or Loquats as they are also called. Originally from China, today there are over 800 different varieties, some of which can be found in Southern Europe as well – the mild climate suits Nespole. In fact, when Alessandro was still living near Milan, there was a Nespole tree in his backyard and come late Spring or early Summer his neighbour would sometimes give us a handful of Nespole straight from the tree and, depending on the time of day, still warm from the sun.
Nespole tend to be the size of a small apricot but are more oval in shape with a skin that is both a bit waxy like a nectarine but also a little bit downy like an apricot or a peach. While some compare their flavour to apricots, I think Nespole have a flavour that is only theirs – tart and sweet at the same time but with an undeniably tropical note.
I mentioned the other day how I love eating fruit but prefer not to fuss with it too much. So today’s recipe is a decidedly unfussy, simple and rustic affair. A heaping pile of slivered Nespole gets placed on small rounds of flaky Kamut pastry (made with no more than flour, butter and a pinch of salt), the pastry gently folded around its filling to make individual galettes. The galettes are brushed with milk and sprinkled with some demerara sugar for extra crunch and sweetness before being baked in a hot oven until crispy and starting to brown ever so slightly. And as much as I like playing with different spices and herbs, I held back for this galette – so the flavour of the Nespole can really shine.
Kamut Galettes with Nespole
Pastry recipe adapted from Tartine No 3
Makes 6 individual galettes or one large galette (if making a large galette, increase the baking time to around 50 minutes)
Notes: The recipe produces a beautifully flaky pastry. As the pastry is unsweetened it will work both for sweet and savoury galettes (so you may want to double the quantities and put half of the dough in the freezer). A word of warning though, the pastry is not the easiest to work with and you will worry that the shaggy and crumbly mass on your kitchen counter will never turn into a cohesive pastry. But persevere, because eventually it will. And it will be worth it.
125g sour cream
200g kamut flour
150g all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
600g loquats, the pit and inner membrane removed and cut into thin strips lengthwise
30ml milk, 2 tbsp demerara sugar
To serve: cold sour cream or your favourite dairy or non-dairy topping for cakes (whipped cream or whipped creme fraiche would be as nice here as whipped coconut cream given the tropical notes of Nespole)
Start by making the pastry. Cut the butter into cubes and place in the freezer for 10 minutes together with, in a separately bowl, the sour cream.
Whisk together the kamut and all purpose flour in a bowl. Then, spread the flour into a rough rectangle on your kitchen counter. Sprinkle the salt over the flour and add the cubed butter. Sprinkle some flour over the butter so each cube of butter is covered with a thin dusting of flour. Using a rolling pin start to flatten the cubes of butter into long thin strands, while trying to keep the shape of your original rectangle (using a large kitchen knife or a pastry cutter to do this). Once there are no more cubes of butter left, add the sour cream.
With your pastry cutter or a large kitchen knife, and using a chopping motion, cut the sour cream into the flour and butter mix. Once the sour cream seems well distributed and there are no more obvious wet spots, shape your shaggy mass of flour, salt, butter and sour cream into a rectangle roughly an inch thick. Using your rolling pin, flatten the pastry until double its original length. Using your pastry cutter or your kitchen knife fold the top half of the pastry over the bottom half and flatten the pastry once more until double its original length. Repeat this process until the pastry comes together into a cohesive mass. Shape the pastry into a disk, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least one hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Take the pastry out of the fridge. Divide the pastry into 6 pieces, and, on a lightly floured kitchen counter, roll each piece out into a rough circle about 3-4 mm thick. While rolling out the pastry continue rotating it and adding a little extra flour if necessary so that the pastry does not stick to your counter top.
Place 2-3 tablespoons of the Nespole in the middle of each round of pastry, leaving a border of about an inch. Fold the border of the pastry so that the Nespole are partially covered, being careful not to tear the pastry while also trying to avoid creating any valleys where juices from the Nespole might leak out.
Brush each pastry with a little bit of milk and scatter 1 tsp of demerara sugar over each pastry. Place the galettes in the fridge for 10 minutes so the pastry can firm up.
Bake the galettes for 40-45 minutes or until the pastries are crisp and golden brown.
Serve with cold sour cream (ideally still warm from the oven).