For the finish to our Fall Harvest series, I could not think of anything better than an apple pie. We are fortunate enough to live in an area ripe with apple orchards, and seeing as it is now Fall, it is also apple season, which means it is also apple pie season.
I have mentioned in a previous post that I made my first apple pie when I was seven. Everything was from scratch, and of course, nothing has changed since then. I will say though, every now and again I like to take some shortcuts. Instead of the traditional crust-filling-crust apple pie, I decided to make a much simpler apple galette. Galette is a French term used to designate various types of flat round or freeform crusty cakes, pastries or pies. For me, this simply means an easy-peasy apply pie. Forget the pie tin, two crusts and worry about the pie sticking to the pan. This galette takes mere minutes to put together, an hour or so to bake and will leave you satisfied as if Grandma America made it herself.
Pre-heat your oven to 425°F. To start, you will need to make the crust. Piecrusts seem intimidating, but the truth is, they are one of the easiest varieties of pastry to make. All you need is flour, butter or vegetable shortening, a bit of water and some elbow grease.
For the crust:
1 and ½ cups of all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon of salt
1 stick of cold butter cubed into 1 cm pieces
4 to 6 tablespoons of ice water
Mix your flour and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Next, add the butter cubes. At this point you have a few options.
Option 1: smash the butter into the flour with a fork until you get a course meal
Option 2: use a food processor to do this for you (just a few pulses)
Option 3: use a pastry cutter (this would be the civilized thing to do)
Option 4: use a potato masher – yes, I said it. Get this gadget out from its slumber and give is a new purpose.
Once your flour and butter have formed a course meal, it is time to add the water. Tablespoon by tablespoon, add the water and mix with a fork until your dough comes together into a solid ball. NOTE: do not add too much water! If you add too much you will come out with a tough crust that sticks to everything while rolling it out. If it is too dry, it will not come together; simply add a bit more water. Once the dough starts forming smaller lumps of dough, chances are, when you use your hands to bring it all together, it will form into one mass.
At this point, it is time to refrigerate the dough for at least 15 minutes. You may be asking yourself why? I am hungry… I don’t want to wait any longer. The truth is, if you skip this step, you will get a flat, non-flaky dough. This way, when the cold butter (and water) meets the hot oven, it will immediately give way to steam, which will cause the layers of dough to puff and provide you with a crisp, airy crust.
After at least 15 minutes (though I usually leave mine for 30) remove the dough from the refrigerator. Flour your work surface and rolling pin (or wine bottle), and start rolling the dough out from the center. Turn the dough clockwise a quarter turn and roll again. Let the pin (bottle) do the work for you; don’t press too hard. Once you have an eighteen to twenty inch circle of dough, you are done. Fold the dough in half. Then in halve again (this should look like a triangle or slice of pizza). This will allow for easy transport to a parchment paper-lined sheet pan (cookie tray). Unfold the dough onto the sheet pan and place back into the refrigerator.
Now it is time to prepare the filling. At this point, you have the freedom to make whatever the hell kind of tasty pie you wish. Whether it be raspberries, rhubarb, pears or apples, the concepts (and recipe) will fit them all.
For this apple rendition, you will need:
4 large apples (I used 10 small apples from Amber’s sister-in law’s tree)
½ cup of flour
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
½ teaspoon of salt
1 and ½ teaspoonfuls of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg (okay, if you must, use the pre-ground jarred stuff… but I am telling you, you are missing out on life)
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
To start, peel, core, and slice your apples into whichever size you wish (you can do super thin or as I prefer, 1cm wedges for texture). Place these in a large working bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour this over your apples. Next, mix the apples and dry ingredients together until well combined.
Remove your crust from the refrigerator. Gently tumble the apples into the center of the crust. Using your hands (yes, these are the best tools in the kitchen… just make sure they are clean) form the apples into a circular mound. Next, start folding the dough towards the center of the mound. Take one edge and pull it up towards the center. Then move along a few inches and pull the edge inward. Continue this, which will create folds in the dough until you are back to where you started. There should be at least a few inches-wide gap in the center, which will allow the steam to escape.
Next brush the crust with egg wash (one egg beaten). Then, sprinkle on the brown sugar.
Bake in the oven at 425°F for 25 minutes. Then decrease the temperature to 375°F. Bake for an additional 45 minutes.
Transfer the galette onto a cooling rack. Simply pull on the parchment paper and slide it and the galette of the sheet pan. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving (or serve it slightly warm). Slice as you would a pie and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
Hope you enjoyed our Harvest Series! Now relax and enjoy a slice of pie…