A couple of our neighbors have started having weekly dinners in their apartment for the tenants of our building. For the inaugural dinner I volunteered to bring bread, and of course made it rather than going across the street to the bakery to get it. Everyone was impressed as I knew they would be. To be honest, people are easily impressed by home made bread simply because not enough people do it. It’s a novelty more than anything else. However, now that I’ve set the bar as the guy in the building who makes things, I feel like I have to up the ante with every dinner. At this rate I’ll be making a seventeen course tasting menu by this time next year just to say on top of it. For now though, I went with an Apple Galette.
The rustic apple pie that I made in November was amazing despite it’s somewhat rugged appearance. That rugged appearance was due to my craptastic pie crust skills. All of that has changed now, for sure. I have started to perfect the pie crust using a food processor and Julia Child’s recipe. I had been doing the Alton Brown recipe but for whatever reason I could not get it to work. I’ve made Julia’s twice now and twice it has been perfect and easy to use. So I’m gonna stick with hers. I was going to make a standard pie, like I did before but then decided that I should make something different, and decided to do a galette instead. But to make it even more interesting, I added the woven pastry strips on the top like a traditional pie.
Much like the apple pie I’d made before, the most difficult thing when making this recipe was the pie crust. Once you have a foolproof version of the crust, then the rest is pretty easy.
Apple Galette Recipe
This is a simple recipe in which the hardest part is getting the crust right. Once you’ve mastered that you can fill it with virtually anything.
Adapted from Julia Child’s recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1.5 sticks of butter (frozen)
4 Tb chilled margarine, lard or shortening
Scant half cup of ice water, plus a little more
Put the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Cut the butter and margarine into small chunks and add to the processor. I keep butter and margarine in the freezer for this application. Pulse the food processor several times until the butter is broken up into smallish pieces. Do not overmix at this stage. Add the scant half cup of ice water and pulse until the dough sticks together on the blade. If it doesn’t stick to the blade add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time. Stop mixing as soon as it starts to stick together.
Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and smear it in small bits away from you with the heel of your hand. This process is called fraisage and helps distribute the fat throughout the dough. Scrape all of the dough back into a ball as quickly as possible, wrap in plastic and put in the fridge for a minimum of two hours. Use within 2-3 days.
5-6 Granny Smith Apples, cored, peeled and sliced
2/3+ cups of sugar (if you use really sour apples, add a little more)
1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt or 1/8th Tsp Table Salt
2 Tb Milk or Half and Half
2-3 Tb Butter
Toss the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a large bowl. Cut a piece of parchment paper that is 12″x15″. Roll out the pie crust into a rectangle that is 1/8th inch thick and is roughly the size of the parchment paper. Trim off the edges so that they are straight. Knead the trimmed edges into a ball then put the dough back in the fridge for a few minutes. Roll the edges of your dough rectangle up to form 1/2 inch ridge around your galette, and place it on top of the parchment paper square on a baking sheet. Distribute the apple filling evenly on your dough, making sure to fill holes and overlap edges of the apples. Retrieve the remaining dough from the refrigerator and roll it out into a circle. Use the long center pieces for the vertical woven strips and the smaller side pieces for the horizontal pieces. Weave the dough strips on top of the galette, trim the edges and pinch with the crust. Brush crust and woven strips with milk or half and half and dot butter all over.
Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool on a rack for at least fifteen minutes before serving.
After Action Report
One of the biggest issues I had with this project was cutting the crust in a straight line and weaving the top part. The trick is to do everything related to the crust quickly while it is still cold. This keeps the crust flaky and while this particular crust is maleable and easy to shape, as it gets warmer it’s hard to get it to keep it’s form. When it is cold it is stiffer, which makes it easier to maneuver when weaving.