Although we like to use these three terms—crostata, galette, and tart—largely interchangeably when talking about folding fresh fruit tossed with a little sugar into buttery pastry dough, there are in fact reasons why three different words exist. Now that we're heading into the warmer months and peak juicy produce season, let's go ahead and clarify what distinguishes these desserts from one another.
The time has finally come where we can leave our houses without a jacket, and drink iced beverages without our fingers breaking off. *Cue excessive cheering.* The coming of this new season also means one very important thing—a fresh wave of produce is finally here. And because we are not heathens, it goes without saying that our favorite way to cook with and consume copious amounts of in-season fruit is to eat it wrapped in a buttery envelope of warm dough. You've probably noticed, there are a number of names tossed around when comes to baking fresh fruit into a buttery-delicious crust. Some of the most commonly used (and used interchangeably): crostata, galette, and tart. And even though the three desserts associated with each title share quite a bit in common, it’s important to draw what line there is to be drawn between them… mostly because we’d hate for you to be that fool completely confusing your fruity desserts. It’s a total party foul.
This rustic dessert consists of a rolled out piece of dough (typically flour, sugar, butter, salt, and water) which is then piled up with fruit (or veggies... savory crostatas are real, and real tasty!) in the center. The edges of the dough are folded in about an inch or so to create crust, and usually get an egg wash and some coarse sugar on top. These babies are free-form, so they’re cooked on a flat sheet, and no two will look the same. That simple, unpolished look is what makes this dessert so effortless and charming.
Got you! So, we know that we implied that these desserts are not all the same, but when it comes to crostatas and galettes, the only difference is linguistic. Crostata is an Italian term, and galette is French; however, by definition, you can use these terms interchangeably. They’re referring to the same, easy and distinctly elegant dessert. By whichever name, this free-form pastry is always a great choice when you find yourself with a bounty of peak season produce.
Okay, this one is actually a little different from the other two. What defines a tart is the pan in which it is baked (intuitively named a tart pan). Depending on the style of the pan, a tart can be made rectangular, square, or circular, and they vary vastly in size and in depth (although most are typically quite shallow). The beauty of a good tart pan is that the bottom is removable, so unlike pies, tarts are usually served unmolded from the sides of the pan—you know, like the way you’d serve a cheesecake that was baked in a springform pan. Thus, you end up with a stunning, free-standing dessert with pretty fluted edges that’s worthy of perching on your favorite cake stand. In order to release from the pan without damage, tart crusts will often be a bit more shortbread-like, as opposed to the flakey pie dough typically used for crostatas and galettes. But, like crostatas and galettes, these can go either savory or sweet, and we certainly do not discriminate here.
Whether you opt for a crostata, galette, or tart, may this be the most important takeaway here—if fruit-based, always serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Seriously, always.