Sunday, August 9, 2015

What's easier than pie? Bake a galette!

A lot of people don't like to bake because best results come from your ability to follow a recipe in exact detail. The right kitchen tools, ingredients, and techniques are essential. A lot of hope and a little luck don't hurt either. LOL. Baking is truly a science unlike cooking which can be anything from a science to pure improvisation. Know that saying "Easy as pie?" In the world of baking pie is, in its own way, easier to make than many other desserts. But the galette? It's even easier. It's a free form pie so no fancy crust to make, just roll out your pate brise, fill, fold the edges upward, and bake. I found I was even able to improvise the filling recipe with good results. (How to pronounce galette)

For years I have wanted to learn to make one and this past week I made two! This is the second one. it was made of red and golden plums because they're currently in season. As we took it to share with Fred's family the scent of the galette filled the car with the sweet smell or plums, summertime, butter, and all things wonderful :)

I knew what they should look and taste like as I'd sampled many over the years while living in the SF Bay Area. The photos above show how different galettes can be. The apple galette from La Bicylette in Carmel by the Sea had a folded crust that almost completely encased the spiced apple filling while the strawberry rhubarb galette, made and sampled at a cooking demonstration at Relish in Sonoma Wine Country, looks more like a traditional pie but with a heavier crust. The petite, individual sized, mixed fruit galette, edged with crunchy raw sugar (at bottom) was from The Pasta Market in Berkeley, CA. So, as you can see, I had a well rounded idea of how I'd want my galette to be if and when I ever made one.

Plum Galette Recipe

I did a Google search and after reading several found this Plum Galette recipe by Jacques P├ępin on the Food & Wine website. There is a recipe at the preceding link so I won't list it here. Instead I'll show you how easy it was to make in pictures. The only thing I left out was returning the crust over and over to the freezer for a few minutes at a time to keep it firm. Keeping the crust cold is key if you want a nice crust.
  1. Make pate brisee (aka pie crust)
  2. Use a food processor to grind down almonds and mix with sugar
  3. Cut plums into 1/2" slices
  4. Roll out crust, spread almond sugar mixture, pile fruit on top, and sprinkle fruit with more sugar
  5. Fold up crust
  6. Bake
I did make a few alterations to the original recipe that I'll share at the end of the post.

Both were taken to the homes of friends, which is always a bit nerve wracking to take something you've never made before and just put it out there like that. I knew they passed the appearance test but how would they taste? Would the crust be ok? Nothing like finding out together :)

Happy to report both were successful! They were fresh and delicious in a way that only homemade can be. You could taste exactly how fresh and ripe the plums were and they weren't too sweet, masking the flavor of the fruit behind too much sugar. I am not a huge pie crust fan so I opted for less crust and to spread the fruit out more.


First review of my first galette. All gone.

Add a little whip cream or ice cream and you're set.

And here's an extra bonus. My friend Irvin Lin at Eat the Love just shared this Blueberry Strawberry Galette recipe over on his blog. I think I'll have to make it right after I make the nectarine galette out of the nectarines already in my fridge. Houston, I think we have a problem. If I have it my way I'll be baking a new galette every other day or so.

I wrote this post to inspire those of you who may be intimidated by baking to give it a try. Or try cookies, they're pretty easy too. I hope if you make a galette it turns out to be both fun to make, a feast for the eyes and delicious to eat!

And here are those extra tips I promised earlier of how I altered the original recipe I used:

1. I split the dough and make two instead of one. One would be HUGE.

2. I roll the dough out on a Silpat and slide it onto a baking sheet to put the dough back into the freezer every time it starts to soften and warm. If you keep the dough cold you don't need to add much extra flour to roll it out plus it will bake better if the dough is cold. That means back in for a few minutes about 5 times including a final set before adding the egg wash and sugar to the crust and going into the oven.

3. I omit some of the sugar you sprinkle over the fruit (my plums were ripe and plenty sweet on their own)

4. I omit the cubed butter you drop over the fruit just to be healthier

5. I added an egg wash (yolk with a tiny bit of milk) to the crust before adding larger chunky sugar instead of the regular sugar the recipe recommends

6. I bake for 50 minutes instead of 1 hour

7. I also baked both on an aluminum air-cushioned baking sheet that torks when it gets hot. This (imo) turned out to be a good thing. It lets a lot of the extra juice (sugar) and butter run off the baking sheet and into a small pan I put in the corner on a lower rack (pictured below) so maybe it make the galette a little bit healthier? Plus the crust doesn't have to sit in all of that extra liquid as it bakes. The first one still came out plenty juicy and sweet so it works, but does make a mess on the baking sheet.

8. Be sure to immediately (but carefully) loosen the galette from the baking sheet with a large, thin spatula as soon as it comes out of the oven or it will be locked to the sheet by all of that liquid syrup and sugar solidifying around its edge as it cools. See below:

Don't worry about all of that burnt juice and sugar. It stayed with the pan and was easy to clean.

9. You don't have to but I almost immediately slide the galette off the messy hot baking sheet and onto a very thin tart pan bottom to lift it over to a new clean baking sheet set on a trivet to cool.