Fanny's Summer Fruit Galette
The smell of this galette, no matter the contents, is one of the aromas I most associate with the restaurant. It’s the smell of the caramelized sugar that lacquers the browned crust, but also of how that smell––which really is a taste––works in concert with whatever fruit is most perfect, itself on the edge of becoming a jam. Ultimately, it is this symbiosis that makes this galette so seductive, and enduringly appealing, even though it’s not particularly innovative. The simplicity and straightforwardness of this dessert, however, is largely why it’s been on the menu nearly every night since the restaurant first opened.
The dough, sometimes called ‘crunch dough,’ was taught to the Chez Panisse staff by the culinary icon Jacques Pépin in the early days of the restaurant and is, even for those of us not gifted in the baking department, reliably easy to make. I like to think of this galette recipe and the restaurant’s fruit bowl as two sides of the same coin: both are intended to highlight the peak fruit of the season (even if one requires considerably less intervention). And though I love to have unadulterated fruit for dessert, eating the best fruit of a given season arranged on a thin, buttery dough, baked until its juices bubble and the pastry browns, makes for one of the most straightforward and most pleasurable desserts.
Make this galette in two phases: First prepare the dough, and then after chilling for at minimum an hour, roll it out, assemble the fruit, and bake the galette. To make the dough, measure ¼ cup of ice-cold water and set aside. Mix together 1 cup all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and if you like, 1 teaspoon sugar. Cut 6 tablespoons of cold butter into small (approximately ¼-inch) cubes. Work the butter into the flour mixture, using either a pastry blender or your fingers, until the dough becomes a mixture of well-blended flour and butter, and larger, unincorporated pieces of butter. (It’s this very irregularity that makes the baked crust flaky.) Working quickly so as not to warm the butter too much, pour ¾ of the water over the dough in a slow and steady stream, all the while tossing the dough with your hands or a fork. At this point, the dough will look like a raggedy mess, with some parts wetter and more formed than others. This is okay. The key is to be gentle as you form the dough into a semblance of a ball—overworking it leads to a tough crust. You’re trying to add just enough water to make a cohesive dough that will not crumble when rolling it to a 14-inch disc. But add too much water, and the dough can become unworkably sticky. As soon as the majority of the dough begins to clump together, gently form it into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and compress it so the ball flattens into a disc. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
When ready to roll out, remove the dough from the refrigerator, and if it’s been chilling for several hours, let warm for about 20 minutes. The dough should be malleable, but not soft. Lightly flour a large surface and sprinkle a dusting of flour on the dough itself. I like to begin the process by using a rolling pin to flatten the dough even more before rolling it out. Tap it repeatedly across its surface with the length of the rolling pin. When ready to roll, start from the center and apply even pressure with the rolling pin as you work toward the edges. Every so often, flip the dough over, and if necessary, dust each side lightly with flour. Patch up any holes or tears with the uneven outer edges.
Once it is 14 inches in diameter and about ⅛-inch thick, transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with a parchment sheet. The easiest, though by no means panic-free, way to do this is to fold the dough in half, or in quarters, and then quickly move it to the baking sheet. Unfold it, and as you do, brush off any excess flour with your hand or, even better, a clean pastry brush. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before baking—about the time it will take you to prepare the fruit––and preheat the oven to 400°F.
Nearly any fruit can be a filling for a galette. The main considerations are the amount of sugar to add, and the quantity of juice the fruit will give off. If you’re using berries, rhubarb, or apricots—fruits that will cast off a good amount of liquid—consider starting with a base layer of crushed amaretti, or a mixture of 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon ground almonds, and 2 tablespoons sugar.
A general rule of thumb for one galette is to prepare 1½ pounds of fruit. I think the less fussy the better, so skip peeling plums, pluots, or apples. If you’re using fruit other than berries, cut the fruit into slices about ⅓-inch thick—a little thinner for apples while apricots can simply be halved. Arrange the fruit in overlapping concentric circles until you reach the final 2 inches of the pastry. Make an outer rim of pastry by folding the border of exposed dough up and over itself at regular intervals, crimping and pushing it up against the fruit, so that it forms a narrow rope-like rim that will contain a filling of fruit. Brush this rim with melted butter, and sprinkle it generously with sugar.
Bake in the lower third of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the fruit is tender and the crust is well browned, its edges slightly caramelized. As soon as the galette is out of the oven, transfer it to a cooling rack using a large metal spatula. This will prevent the galette from steaming and becoming soggy. If you’re inclined to embellish the galette have jam on hand that’s made of the same fruit, or one that complements the filling: heat it up enough to liquefy it and then brush a little onto the surface of the cooked fruit so it glistens. Cooking apple peels with water, sugar and lemon zest can also make a very simple, delicately flavored glaze. If you’re using an apple for the galette that has either a thick or bitter skin that would be better removed, this is the perfect opportunity to use their skins. Serve the galette warm, with ice cream or whipped cream.
Recipe from Always Home: A Daughter's Recipes and Stories. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe