We interrupt the regularly scheduled post to bring you…huckleberries! Regardless of where you live, some foraged fruit or vegetable likely draws people out of their gardens and into the wild. But if you live in the high country, you know that regularly scheduled activities get shunted aside when hucks ripen on mountain slopes. As the season progresses, the most accessible berries are snatched up by other omnivores—human and bear—so pickers must go farther and higher to find these treasures. In my case, a 3-mile roundtrip hike and 3-hour picking session yielded about half a gallon of tiny purple gems.
With that much effort and time involved, I tend to hoard my huckleberries and dole them out in small doses—no small feat when I will happily eat a cup of fruit on one bowl of granola and yogurt. So you won’t find me rolling the results of a day of foraging into a pie or jars of jam. Instead, I prefer recipes that highlight smaller amounts of fruit, whether for breakfast or for dessert.
Crepes with Wild Berries and Lemon Cheese
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ultrafine sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1-1/2 cups Lemon Cheese
1 cup huckleberries, blackberries, or other small fruit
3/4 cup Fresh Yogurt
In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs and then whisk in the flour, sugar, salt, and 1/4 cup of milk; the batter will be thick and lumpy, but keep whisking until smooth. Whisk in the remaining milk and butter until just incorporated; if thicker than heavy cream, thin with up to 1 tablespoon of water.
Lightly grease an 8-inch nonstick skillet and set it over medium-high heat until hot. Scoop up about 3 tablespoons of batter in a 1/4-cup measure, and pour it into the pan in a circular motion. Quickly tilt and circle the skillet in the same direction, until the batter evenly coats the bottom and no longer spreads. Cook for about 40 seconds, until the edge begins to curl and the crepe is lightly brown on the underside. Slip a spatula under that edge to flip the crepe. Cook an additional 20 seconds, and then flip onto a plate so that the most recently cooked side faces up. Repeat the process with the remaining batter, regreasing the pan after each crepe.
To serve, slide a crepe onto a clean plate. Crumble about 2 tablespoons of Lemon Cheese in a line down the center, and sprinkle with about 3 teaspoons of berries. Fold the opposing edges of the crepe over the filling, gently holding the overlap with a finger until you can spoon on a dollop of Fresh Yogurt to weigh it down. Sprinkle extra cheese and berries over the yogurt. Makes 10–12 filled crepes.
Tips & Tricks
- It’s easiest to remove the lumps from crepe batter if you add the milk in stages. You can substitute a nondairy alternative like almond or soy milk; nut milk will give your crepes a bit of additional flavor.
- Melted butter in both the crepe batter and the pan bumps up the flavor, but oils like sunflower and coconut also work. Crepes cook quickly over relatively high heat, so if the smokiness of butter or coconut oil bothers you, use sunflower oil or clarify your butter.
- Crepes are traditionally larger and folded in quarters. I like the 8-inch pan for two reasons: I can enjoy smaller bites of several fillings, and it’s the pan size I own.
- After a crepe or two, you’ll get the tilt-and-circle motion down. Use an oversize measuring cup for the batter; adding it by the tablespoonful is too slow.
- These crepes work equally well for breakfast and dessert and are even faster to make than a galette (see below). If greedy hands snuck into your berry bowl, rub the crepes lightly with a bit of chilled butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Jam, grated chocolate, and sour cream are also tasty.
- This recipe features wild berries and homemade cheese and yogurt, but store-bought fruit, cheese, and yogurt can be used instead. Or go savory, filling the crepes with wild mushrooms and sour cream or topping them with sour cream and caviar.
- Crepes are best eaten fresh, but you can wrap extras in waxed or parchment paper, slide the bundle into a zip-close bag, and store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Twice as Tasty
Although smaller than cultivated blueberries, huckleberries pack a flavor punch that domesticated plants can’t match, with a natural sweetness and a tarter, earthy undertone. I find they pair beautifully with rhubarb, which has its own sweet–tart bite. The flavors of hucks, blackberries, and other wild berries tend to get muddied in a mixed fruit crisp, but they balance well in a lighter freeform tart, or galette.
The galette has a lot going for it beyond flavor. The pastry is essentially a pie crust, so you can practice your pie-making skills without worrying about fitting it in the pie plate or using too much dough in the fluting. It’s not as thick as pie, so it cooks more quickly and is less inclined to lose its filling. Finally, “freeform” implies a rustic look that makes even your first attempt seem accomplished.
1 tablespoon ultrafine sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons ice water
5 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1-1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup huckleberries or other berries
zest of half an orange
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine the flour, ultrafine sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and chill for at least 30 minutes. Cut the cold butter and zest into the flour mixture, as you would for Nearly Perfect Pie Crust, until crumbs form. Sprinkle the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, over the mixture, and toss it with a fork, adding more water as needed until it can just be gathered into a ball. Knead once or twice, and then flatten the dough ball slightly. Wrap in waxed or parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface to form an 11-inch circle, and trim away any ragged edges. Transfer the circle to a rimmed baking sheet. Lightly mark off a 9-inch circle in the center of the dough. Sprinkle the marked-off area with 3 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar. Cut the rhubarb into 1-inch chunks. Spread it and the berries evenly over the dough, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar, orange zest, and ground cloves. Working around the circle, fold up the edge of the dough to slightly cover the fruit, leaving the center exposed but ensuring there are no edge gaps for the filling to seep out. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling bubbles. Cool slightly before cutting. Serves 6.
Tips & Tricks
- This freeform tart can be filled with a range of other flavors if you used all of your hucks and blackberries in Crepes with Wild Berries and Lemon Cheese. Foragers can use any wild fruit; gardeners can substitute blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries. For a sweeter tart, swap out the rhubarb for sliced peaches, pears, or apricots.
- While you’ll love the look, flavor, and mouthfeel of fresh fruits, you can make this tart out of season with frozen ones. Mix any frozen fruit with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and add it, still frozen, to the pastry. Filling made of overly juicy fresh fruit, like peaches, can also benefit from this thickener.
- For added richness, brush the crust with butter, lay a few thin pats of butter over the exposed fruit, and sprinkle the entire dessert lightly with a coarse sugar. The butter gives the cooked pastry a glossy look, and the sugar puts a bit of crunch on the outer layer of crust.
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