Spicy, sweet, and punchy, baked fresh and served warm,
this is the sort of starter that can precede almost anything.
The generous sour cream base and the lightness of the puff pastry carry the sweet potato easily without the risk of a carb overdose.
— Yotam Ottolenghi
On the cover of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi‘s Ottolenghi cookbook, is a beautiful photograph of a large sweet potato galette. Ottolenghi’s quote above nicely describes the spectacular match of the sweet potatoes and savory goat cheese, but the final brush of the gremolata-like mixture atop the finished galettes is what, in my opinion, guarantees you’ll want to make them again and again. The bright finishing sauce not only adds a pop of color and added flavor, but it also brings a fresh contrast to the rich and flaky pastry.
When I bought the cookbook, I knew I’d make this sweet and savory galette for a nice gathering in my near future. The opportunity arose recently, when I got together with a few French-speaking moms for a bit of lively conversation and a playdate for our little ones. We enjoyed the interesting mix of flavors, color and texture of the galettes. I’m so glad I tried this recipe and am already looking forward to making them again. Next time, I might serve it as an elegant accompaniment to a simple green salad. If you’d like to make them, be sure to look at my notes below.
Sweet Potato Galettes
Slightly adapted from Ottolenghi
3 sweet potatoes, about 12 oz (350 g) each
9 oz (250 g) puff pastry, thawed
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
6½ tablespoons (100 ml) crème fraîche
3½ tablespoons (100 g) aged goat cheese
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 medium-hot chile, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius. Bake the sweet potatoes in their skins for 35-45 minutes, until they soften up but are still slightly raw in the center (check by inserting a small knife). Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into slices 1/8-inch (3-mm) thick.
While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, roll out the puff pastry to about 1/16-inch (2-mm) thick on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out four 2¾ by 5½-inch (7 by 14-cm) rectangles and prick them all over with a fork. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper, place the pastry rectangles on it, well spaced apart, and leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and brush lightly with the beaten egg. Using an icing spatula, spread a thin layer of crème fraîche on the pastries, leaving ¼-inch (5-mm) border all around. Arrange the potato slices on the pastry, slightly overlapping, keeping the border clear. Season with salt and pepper, crumble the goat cheese on top, and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds and chile. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is cooked through. Check underneath; it should be golden brown.
While the galettes are cooking, stir together the olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a pinch of salt. As soon as the pastries come out of the oven, brush them with this mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Martine’s Notes: The first time I tried this recipe I forgot to prick the pastry all over with a fork. This caused them to really puff while baking and my toppings slid off. The second time I made them I was sure to use my fork as the recipe instructed! I decided to use crème fraîche instead of sour cream, as per the original recipe.
It’s a bit challenging to spread crème fraîche on top of the egg-washed puff pastry. I first put a small dollop on top and gradually added more. Instead of regular sour cream (according to original recipe) I used crème fraîche, it is less sour. I did this because I’m not a fan of the taste of sour cream. Although I baked several sweet potatoes, I only used one very long and relatively skinny sweet potato. The amount of potatoes you will need depends on the size of each and how thick you slice them.
If you’re making the pastry for a group that might include children, I would advise not to add the chiles. I did not for the playdate. However when I made them for adults, the spicy chiles added a nice kick! Also, I baked my galettes a little longer, about 30 minutes in total time, for them to have a nice golden color.
Finally, I did not make my own puff pastry. Ottolenghi provides a recipe for puff pastry in his book, but I have not tried it, yet. When I don’t have the time to make my own puff pastry, I buy the brand of puff pastry called “Dufour”. It is supposed to taste the best of all other store bought puff pastries.