Sweet Success

An apple raisin galette flavored with a bit of rose extract and wild berry glaze.

Faithful readers may remember my admission that I am fumble-fingered when it comes to pastry, and that I had vowed within this year to become better able to make pies that not only tasted good, but looked like something other than a map of Australia, or worse, like something a cow stepped in.

So, for Valentine’s Day, my least favorite of all holidays, I decided to celebrate by doing something that makes me nervous and jittery. No, not making a pie, going to the dentist. Yes, I had a dentist’s appointment yesterday, which made me an awful shrew to Zak. But, I was not so bad off as my friend Branwen–she had an appointment with her doctor to deal with two hernias. (Boy, we are two hot babes who know how to celebrate love and party hard, aren’t we?)

Well, after being twittish and skittish all day, I made it up to Zak by making a good dinner–ribeye steaks dry-rubbed with Turkish spices cooked in cast iron skillets on the stove, with fingerling potatoes sauteed in olive oil with fresh garlic, thyme and rosemary, a goat cheese and spinach salad, and a dessert. And for dessert, I determined to make a galette. My theory was that it was simple, it is one crust, I had apples on hand and it was relatively quick.

So–I made the dough:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 sticks unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces and chilled
1/3 cup ice water

I mixed the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl, and then used the pastry blender to cut the butter in. I worked it that way until there were pieces about the size of garden peas, and little crumbs.

I wanted to break some of the larger pieces into smaller ones, so I threw caution to the wind and did as I have watched Madeline Kamman do, and used my fingertips to rub the flour and butter together, squishing the butter into flakes. I am a firm believer that you must be bold to get anywhere in life and love–or the kitchen for that matter. One must be fearless to learn to cook well.

Then I poured in the water, and used my hands to mix it in well, then gather the dough into a reasonbly dry, flat disk. Zak held open a ziplock bag for me, and I slipped it in, pushed out the air and stuck in the fridge to firm up while I cooked potatoes.

Then came time to roll it out, and add the filling, which I improvised:

I crushed a handful of crisp cookies–a pastry chef I knew in culinary school liked to use biscotti crumbs, but I was fresh out of biscotti, so cookies it was. These go on the bottom of the galette to absorb excess juices to keep the bottom of the crust from turning soggy. Then I peeled and thinly sliced two Braeburn apples, because that is what I had. I got out a bit of cinnamon, some rose extract, a bit of dried ginger and some golden raisins.

I rolled out the dough–it was almost completely round! Only the edges were a bit ragged, and the shape was vaguely circular! It was amazing. I wish Morganna could have seen it.

A nearly circular pastry crust rolled out by myself–queen of rolling perfectly good dough into perfectly wretched disasters.

Then I sprinkled the crumbs in an even layer over the dough, leaving a two inch edge free of crumbs. Then the apples went on top in a concentric pinwheel design. I sprinkled raisins over it, then sprinkled cinnamon, ginger and about 1/2 tsp. of the rose extract over it all. I sprinkled probably 1 tsp. of raw sugar over it all, and then folded over the edge, pinching it all in one direction. I brushed the excessive flour off the edges, and carefully transferred the galette (with Zak’s help) to a silpat-lined baking sheet and popped it in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.

It came out very brown and fragrant–though I made a mistake with putting raisins in the exposed part of the tart. They browned too much, so I picked them off and sprinked new ones over it. I glazed it with melted wild berry preserves, and we ate it warm.

The crust was magnificently crisp and flaky and filled with a delicious browned butter aroma. The apples absorbed the flowery essence of the rose extract and the wild berries. The raisins added a depth and richness–those which were covered by the edge of the crust were quite protected and filled with sweetness.

Finally–a pie-like pastry made by moi that did not look ill in some way!


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  1. Hi Barbara, thanks for your kind wishes. I have just come back from my holidays. I am not much of a cook but that piece of pastry that you have baked sure taste as good as it looks and your description of it sure makes my mouth water.

    Comment by Desmond Goh — February 15, 2005 #

  2. Welcome home, Desmond!

    I am glad you liked the look and description of the flavor of the galette. The mysteries of pastry are one of the things that keep me humble in the kitchen–few things fill me with as much nervousness as making a simple pie.

    And the thing is–my crusts are always flaky and taste wonderful–I think I am just too timid in shaping them, so they tend to look crooked or sloppy or something.

    Hence my determination to start making pies that look as good as they taste. This galette is the first success in that venture!

    Keep checking in–there will be more pies and tarts and who knows what all else here in the future.

    Hey–maybe I should take up quiche, too–it is a pie, but not sweet. Hrm….

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — February 15, 2005 #

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    Comment by Barbara Fisher — February 15, 2005 #

  4. Oh my God, mom, its a pretty pie! Or, pieish thing. But it’s still pretty! I am so proud of you! (And, well, if you’re still churning out pies when I visit, I get free pie plus amusment when you mess up.)

    Comment by Morganna — February 15, 2005 #

  5. Hey, Kid–you get amusement no matter what–even when things go right in the kitchen, I go out of my way to be entertaining, as well you know. 😉

    I promise to make a pie while you are here–how is that? Unless you would rather have quiche?

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — February 15, 2005 #

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