Lifestyle & Culture

Kitchen Detail: Strawberry Feels Forever


By Nancy Pollard

After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years—La Cuisine: The Cook’s Resource in Alexandria, Virginia—Nancy Pollard writes Kitchen Detail, a blog about food in all its aspects—recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources, and food-related issues. 

It seems as if everyone is dreaming of strawberries right now. Lots of blog posts, revamped dishes in online food magazines, and Instagram photos, all touting both old and new strawberry makeovers.  And so here we all are,stawberries from farmers market in Alexandria VA buying up strawberries from farmers markets, grocery stores, Costco, organic food shops—and  they are all better than the Dread Driscoll. These early local versions, however, while beefy in size, are somewhat overblown in what strawberries should be in flavor. I am a victim of this myself and have dropped woody pears as part of my morning fruit salad and substituted muscle-bound strawberries instead.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Strawberries for me will always be one of my adolescent touchstones, married to chocolate chip cookies. But not just any chocolate chip cookie. I used to  buy a dozen of the YWCA chocolate chip cookies at the venerable branch on the corner of 17th & K streets, NW in Washington DC, when as an unemployable teenage girl I was sternly advised to take stenography and typing courses at said YWCA. When that institution was moved to new digs in 1981, while the run on the chocolate chip cookies was phenomenal, even my ardent consumption couldn’t sustain the bakery. The famous chocolate chip cookie that I remember down to the tiniest mouthful was never successfully re-created. Wilhelmina Hebron, one of the last four bakers of this cookie, was quoted in a New York Times article:

It’s a funny cookie, if you miss one little thing, it’s all messed up. There’s a secret ingredient that makes it come out different from any other cookie . . . I don’t see anything so famous about it—it’s just a cookie. I stopped eating them in 1979, and I lost 61 pounds.

Believe me, I have looked and  tried three or four of the recipes pulled up by our trusty friend Google, and none of them is even close.

Strawberry Brown Sugar Galette

On Instagram, a KD follower (and you know who you are) loved this book by a Cuban American chefAlways Add Lemon book cover, who until recently was the chef at a top restaurant in Sydney, Australia. So, of course I bought Always Add Lemon. There on the back pages (I always look at the dessert section first in a cookbook) she had created a pie using a cookie- dough filling for her strawberries. Danielle Alvarez has lots of interesting riffs on all sorts of dishes, and I continue to explore them. While I still think that the Sunset Magazine version of an American Strawberry Pie is hard to beat, this one is just a great take on two of my favorite memories. Since our strawberries still lack flavor, do use a couple of drops of the Wild Strawberry Essence fromDanielle Alvarez Strawberry Brown Sugar Galette in KD kitchen Grasse to get them past the Driscoll test. I am wedded to the all-butter crust from Cathy Barrow (you’ll find it here), so have not reprinted here the short crust from Danielle Alvarez.

Think of this base as kind of an Americanized version of frangipane. Vertically slicing the berries  creates just the right way to use them for this topping. Crowd them in when you are making concentric circles as they will separate when the “cookie dough” puffs up. I found that after I mixed the Light Muscovado sugar into the melted butter, it was best to use a hand mixer to beat in the egg, flour, flavorings, salt, and baking soda. You really do need to keep a bare edge of 1½ inches to create the galette-pleated crust.

Strawberry and Brown Sugar Galette

Serves 8
An unusual and yummy tart which makes the best use of large strawberries.
Recipe by Danielle Alvarez.
Adapted from Always Add Lemon.
  1. Flaky Pie Crust dough for one pie (see here)
  2. 500gr (1 pound 2 ounces, or 3½ cups) strawberries
  3. 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
  4. 300ml (10 fluid ounces) sweetened whipped cream mixed with 150ml (5 fluid ounces) cràme fraîche (alternatively, a good vanilla ice cream is also excellent)
For the cookie dough:
  1. 60gr (2 fluid ounces, or ¼ cup) melted butter (I use unsalted)
  2. 110gr (4 ounces) light brown sugar (I use India Tree Light Muscovado)
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or ¼ teaspoon French Vanilla Essence
  4. 100gr (3½ ounces, or 2/3 cup) white all-purpose flour
  5. ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  6. ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  7. Egg wash made with 1 beaten egg and 1 tablespoon water, whisked together
  1. Roll out your pastry dough on a Silpat or baking parchment. You want at least a 10-inch (26cm) diameter.
  2. Cover it with parchment or cling film and place in refrigerator while you make the filling.
  3. Preheat oven to 430F (220C).
  4. For the cookie dough base, combine the melted butter and light brown sugar and beat by hand using a wooden spoon—you are not creaming the sugar into the butter.
  5. Add the vanilla, flour, baking soda, and sea salt and mix together, just to combine.
  6. Retrieve the cold pastry disk from the fridge and spread this mixture across, leaving a 3cm to 4cm (1½ inch) bare edge.
  7. Prepare your egg wash and whipped cream if serving the galette soon.
  8. Slice the strawberries thinly and vertically.
  9. Place the strawberry slices in concentric circles on top of the cookie base, starting from the outside and working in.
  10. Fold the edge of the pastry over the circle of strawberries, making pleats in the crust.
  11. Brush the crust edge with the egg wash and sprinkle with half of the demerara sugar.
  12. Sprinkle the other half of the sugar over the strawberries.
  13. I make this tarte on a Silpat on a baking sheet, but you can simply lift the tart on its parchment and lay it on your baking sheet.
  14. Alvarez puts it on a baking stone, but I have two carbon-steel sheets preheating in the oven and I lay the half sheet on those—this simply facilitates browning on the underside of the crust.
  15. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, turning the galette occasionally.
  16. When you pull it out of the oven, slide the paper with the baked galette onto a cooling rack.
  17. When it is just still warm, you slide it off the Silpat or parchment and serve.


  1. I use India Tree Demerara Sugar and Light Muscovado Sugar for this recipe.
  2. I refrigerate this galette and then reheat it slightly if there are left-over slices.


This post first appeared on the Kitchen Detail blog.


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