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Celebrating Strawberries

I like my berries naked.

Truly, when they are juicy and perfectly ripe, I don’t need them draped in any adornment. I don’t even need a bowl. I just plop them in my mouth au naturale with pure abandon.

But sometimes, I do get tempted to dress them up just a bit for company.

“Strawberry Galette with Basil Whipped Cream” has the perfect look for me. It’s more the understated Calvin Klein of strawberry desserts, rather than the Versace version with over-the-top embellishments.

It’s from the new “Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts” (Clarkson Potter), of which I recently received a review copy. The cookbook, from the editors of Martha Stewart Living, contains 150 recipes for fruit-filled goodies, from old-fashioned favorites to more modern fare.

A round of buttery dough is formed into an open-face tart, in which slices of strawberries have been arranged in a concentric pattern. Tiny butter cubes are sprinkled on top to add richness, and a beaten egg yolk is brushed on the crust so it bakes up golden.

It’s served with a fluff of heavy cream steeped with basil leaves, enriched with mascarpone, then whisked until thick. Or you can take the even easier route that I did by just stirring some mascarpone with chopped basil (or shiso in my case, since I had it growing in my yard), then spooning it on the plate alongside a slice of the galette.

Naked is nice. But sometimes a little modest covering does wonders.

Strawberry Galette with Basil Whipped Cream

(Serves 6 to 8 )

For pate brisee:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

For rest of galette:

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, patted dry and chopped

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup mascarpone cheese

All-purpose flour for dusting

1 pound strawberries, hulled (about 3 cups)

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk, for egg wash

1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

To make pate brisee: Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor (or whisk together by hand in a bowl). Add butter, and pulse (or quickly cut in with a pastry blender or your fingertips) until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some larger pieces remaining. Drizzle 1/4 cup water over mixture. Pulse (or mix with a fork) until mixture just begins to hold together. If dough is too dry, add 1/4 cup more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse (or mix with a fork).

Press dough into a ball, then flatten into a disk. Refrigerate until firm, well wrapped in plastic, 1 hour or up to 1 day. (Dough can be frozen up to 3 months; thaw in refrigerator before using.)

To make basil-infused cream: Combine cream, basil and 2 tablespoons sugar in a heatproof bowl. Set bowl over (not in) a pan of simmering water, and stir until sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 2 hours, for more pronounced basil flavor). Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Add mascarpone, and whisk until medium peaks form. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 2 hours.

To form galette: On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut out a 10-inch round, and transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate or freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, cut strawberries lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Reserve end pieces for another use. Gently toss slices with 1/4 cup sugar and cornstarch, and immediately arrange in concentric circles on dough. Start 1 inch from edge, overlapping slices slightly. Fold edge of dough over berries securely and tightly or else precious strawberry juices may leak out during baking. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Dot berries with butter.

Whisk together egg yolk and water. Brush dough edge with egg wash, and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until crust is golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve galette warm with basil cream.

Adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts”

Another Strawberry Treat: Strawberry Shortcakes with Greek Yogurt

More Martha Stewart Recipes: Pinched Orange Macaroons

And: PB&J Cupcakes

And: Brown-Butter Toffee Blondies