Baby tomatoes

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Easy Apple Galette- with a few cheats

Who doesn't love pie? The quintessential midwestern dessert, pie has fans of all ages. And what variety! Cool, creamy fillings, fluffy whipped fillings, custardy and spicy, fruity and delicious, all snuggled into a flaky pastry crust that shatters when you break it with your fork. I want some right now in fact!

Several years ago I came across a unique way to make pies. At first I thought it was the height of gourmet baking and expert pastry work but really, it's just a very attractive and super easy way to cheat and get pie on the table with minimal work and no special pans. Some call them galettes, others call them crostatas, but they really are a free-form rustic way to form a pie with your delicious filling piled in there. The pastry gets just as crisp and delicious and these must be pies that have a fruit filling- custards and cream fillings are a no go.

This particular combination is very very French, and as you know, everything French makes Monica very happy! Tart and sweet apples, crunchy walnuts, a gooey caramel-like sauciness, a pop of French Cognac and a very special surprise- dates! Anyway, to make this really pretty dessert you need to get your pastry ready first. Each galette uses a recipe of pastry for a single crust pie, so we will make that ahead and get it chilling. Please use BUTTER for the crust or if you must substitute- use vegetable shortening. Don't use margarine, it contains water and makes a dense crust, not a flaky crust.

Single crust pastry

1 stick butter (COLD!!!) 
1 1/3 cup flour, plus more
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
4-6 tablespoons ice water

I make this in a food processor but you can use a pastry blender if you like. Pulse, or cut the butter into the combined flour, sugar and salt until the mixture resembles rough crumbs. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time just until the dough forms. Don't knead the dough! Remove from bowl, wrap tightly in plastic and chill about an hour.

Sometimes I like to add a pinch of cinnamon or other spice with the flour- it brings a little bit extra flavor to the pie. Nutmeg is a great choice. Now let's work on our filling.

Caramel Apple Date Galette

2 Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup cognac
1/4 cup caramel sauce
pitted dates- cut up and loosely packed to make 1/4 cup
1/4 cup broken walnuts

A quick note- dates can be very very sweet so if you pack them firmly you will find they overpower the apples and get cloyingly sweet. It should take between 4 and 6 dates, depending on their size, to make the amount needed. One more thing- they can be sticky. Very sticky. Sometimes it helps to start with a lightly oiled knife.

I only needed 4 dates for one galette, so I have plenty
left for snacking!
Peel and slice the apples. Chop the dates in small pieces. In a heavy skillet, melt the butter; add the apples. Cook and stir over medium heat until apples are slightly softened. Add the dates and sprinkle with cognac. Raise heat to medium high and cook off the excess liquid. Remove from heat, add the nuts and let cool about half an hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with silicone mat or spray with baking spray and set aside.

Roll the pastry out into a circle about 11 or 12 inches across. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. I cheated and used a store bought rolled pastry sheet- and it works just as well, so feel free to cheat a little.

Almost looks like Apple Bacon Something- but it's dates!
Pile the filling in the middle and spread it out a bit, leaving at least 2 inches uncovered edge. Then start folding the edge over towards the middle, tucking and pleating as you go, until the entire galette has been "edged". Drizzle with half the caramel sauce. Brush the pastry edge with milk and sprinkle with a little sugar if you like. 

I cheated and had a little trouble with my edge, but it was
still flaky and delicious and no one cared it was't perfect
Bake for about 40-50 minutes until pastry is deep golden and filling is bubbly. Pour the remaining caramel sauce over while the galette is still hot. Don't worry if a little of the juice leaks out. Allow pastry to cool for a while, and serve warm, drizzle with additional caramel sauce if you like and whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

This is truly delicious and super easy, and if you keep refrigerated pastry on hand and fruit- frozen, fresh or even canned- in the pantry, you can whip up a quick dessert that looks like you spent hours in the kitchen.

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