Sometimes I like to imagine what it would be like to have been born French. I would eat whatever I want and stay enviably slim. I would not be too shy to complain about injustices or even inconveniences. I would be faultlessly dressed at all times, and perhaps enjoy a single Gitane each night after dinner. Lunch would be the most important meal of the day for me, and I would follow it with thick slices of unpasteurised cheese. And forget about eating a meal without a good glass of wine! Ah, yes… the life of Stéphanie, Frenchwoman. Perhaps I was born in the wrong country. Sadly, fluffernutter sandwiches and instant mashed potato flakes have squeezed their way between me and my destiny as a gourmande française. I was raised on individually packaged American cheese slices, awkward fashion choices, and cold Coors Light.
Luckily I can find inspiration in my kitchen. The other day I was looking for something to cook while simultaneously avoiding the grocery store and noticed my fruit bowl overflowing with apples. Usually I have a glut of oranges, but after a juicing massacre recently the apples have completely taken over. I had a gander at this upside down apple sponge from Table for Two or More, and admired the loveliness of this tarte aux pommes from A Walking Dream. I considered making a tarte tatin, but found the puff pastry in my freezer to be, erm, slightly 2 years out-of-date. So, I closed my eyes and visualized myself riding a rickety bicycle through the French countryside, stopping off at a farmhouse for lunch, and looking at a table full of wholesome food. And what did I see for dessert? A galette! Ouais!
What’s great about an apple galette is that it’s freeform, man. It can’t be tied down to any rules. Here is what dictionary.com has to say:
1. not organized or planned in a conventional way
2. encouraged to function or evolve without advance planning
3. without restrictions or preconceptions
Now this is my kind of pie.
I feel that I should take this moment to address the elephant in the room: it is true that my galette is not the most beautiful one to grace the internet. You may have noticed that as the incredibly buttery pastry baked, the integrity of the shell was compromised, allowing a mixture of jam and apple syrup to spread out from underneath the pie to form a moat of deliciousness around the outside. It looks more like a loose pile of apples and pastry, like a crumble or a cobbler. But I ask you to eat this galette without restrictions or preconceptions. The butter content alone is enough to make you desperate for a second pile. It is not organized or conventional. It is freeform. Just like my American belly will be after I’ve polished the whole thing off…
adapted from Jaques Pepin’s Free-form Apple Galette from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home
for the pastry:
250 g/ 2 cups plain flour
230 g/ 1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sugar
1/3 cup ice water
for the filling:
8 apples, peeled, cored and diced
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 t cinnamon
50 g/ 1/4 cup sugar
2 T butter
a few spoonfuls of apricot jam
First make the pastry. Put the flour, sugar, salt, and butter into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add most of the water but hold a little back, and pulse a few more times. Test the dough by squeezing some of it in your hand, and if it holds together it is done. If not, add a little more of the water until it reaches the right consistency.
Squeeze all of the dough into a flat disc and wrap tightly with cling film. Refrigerate for an hour.
Meanwhile, mix your apples with the lemon juice to prevent from browning. combine with the sugar and cinnamon.
Once the dough has rested, remove it from the cling film and roll out on a floured surface until it is a big oval about 1/2 cm thick. Place the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and spread a layer of jam in the middle of the oval, stopping about 2 inches from all of the edges. Pile your apple mix into the middle of the dough, and fold the edges up over the sides of the apples to form a lip around the edge of the whole galette. Dot the top of the apples with yet more butter. Bake at 200 C/ 400 F for 45 minutes to an hour, until the apples are cooked through and the pastry is golden brown.