(MCT) — Nothing celebrates summer quite like a fresh pie. It’s as if we’re taking the best the season has to offer — vibrantly colored produce practically bursting with flavor and nurtured to ripeness under a hot sun — and wrapping that bounty in a tender, flaky crust. Like a gift.
It’s hard not to get excited at the sight of a great pie, whether piled high in a deep-dish plate or beautifully arranged in a shallow tart pan. Though I have to say, lately I’ve been leaving out the plates and pans entirely and opting for something a bit more casual with a galette. Because sometimes, or maybe always, simple is best.
Think of a galette as pie’s free-form cousin. Roll the dough out, pile in the filling and gently fold up the outer edges of the dough to hold it all together. Some recipes use a type of tart dough — a sweeter, more cookie-like short crust — for the pastry. Me? I stick with a flaky pie dough — rich, buttery and not so sweet — worked a little more to give it the strength to hold the filling without the support of a dish. Rustic yet beautiful, a galette is perfection simplified. Nothing fussy about it.
Almost any summer produce works in a galette: sweet berries and stone fruit, or go savory, riffing with tomatoes or zucchini, so long as the produce has the right balance of flavors and depth of personality. The trick is to keep it simple. Let the fruits and vegetables speak for themselves by not disguising them with a bunch of other flavors.
Stone fruits are just coming into season, and apricots are downright wonderful about now. Toss sliced apricots with a little sugar and a touch of almond extract, which brings out the flavors of stone fruit. Add some sliced almonds to give the filling a subtle crunch, as well as a handful of fresh raspberries to lend a splash of vibrant red. As the fruit cooks, the flavors will evolve and soften with a natural sweetness. Fresh out of the oven, give the galette a little time to cool slightly and all those fragrant juices a chance to settle before digging in.
For a savory take on the galette, toss sliced ripe tomatoes with a little garlic, fresh oregano and a few diced olives to brighten the mix. Bake the galette (using the same pie crust) until golden-brown, then serve, slightly cooled, with a sprinkling of chopped basil. Top the slices with a dollop of fresh cheese, say, creamy burrata or ricotta. It makes a perfect afternoon snack, even a light meal.
Because something as good as pie shouldn’t be reserved only for dessert.
Total time: 20 minutes, plus chilling time
Servings: This makes enough for 1 (9- to 10-inch) galette
Note: This is a basic pie crust recipe, with the dough worked a bit more to strengthen it. The cider vinegar is used to help “shorten” the crust, improving the texture. Though you might smell the vinegar as you roll out the crust, you should not taste or smell it in the finished galette.
2 ¼ cups (9.6 ounces) flour Generous 1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon sugar ¼ cup cold shortening ½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes 2 ¼ teaspoons cider vinegar 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water, more if needed
1) To make the dough using a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the shortening and pulse until incorporated (the dough will look like moist sand). Add the butter and pulse just until the butter is reduced to small, pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the vinegar and water over the mixture, and pulse a few times to form the dough. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until it comes together in a single mass. Mold the dough into a disk roughly 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Cover the disk tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
2) To make the dough by hand, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the shortening and incorporate using a pastry cutter or fork (the dough will look like moist sand). Cut in the butter just until it is reduced to small, pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the vinegar and water over the mixture, and stir together until the ingredients are combined to form a dough. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until it comes together in a single mass. Mold the dough into a disk roughly 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Cover the disk tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Each of 8 servings: 289 calories; 4 grams protein; 28 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 18 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 31 mg cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 293 mg sodium.
APRICOT ALMOND GALETTE
Total time: 1 hour, plus cooling time
Servings: 6 to 8
1 ½ pounds apricots (6 to 8) 2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apricots 1 teaspoon almond extract or 2 tablespoons almond liqueur Prepared galette dough 3 tablespoons sliced almonds 1/3 cup raspberries, if desired 1 egg, beaten 1 tablespoon coarse sugar
1) Cut each apricot into 6 to 8 wedges, discarding the pits. Combine the apricots with the granulated sugar and almond extract in a work bowl and toss well to mix.
2) Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator to a flat surface lined with a lightly floured sheet of parchment. Roll the dough into a rough circle about 15 inches in diameter and a generous one-eighth-inch thick. Transfer the dough (still on the parchment) to a baking sheet.
3) Gently stir in the sliced almonds and raspberries with the apricots. Spoon the apricots into the center of the dough. Fold the outer 3 inches of the dough circle toward the center to make a packet, leaving the inner 4 or 5 inches of apricots uncovered (the assembled galette will be about 9 inches in diameter). Lightly brush the pastry with the beaten egg, then scatter the coarse sugar over the apricots and pastry.
4) Bake until the crust is golden-brown and the apricots are softened, about 45 minutes. Start checking the galette after 30 minutes, and loosely cover the fruit with a sheet of foil if they color too quickly. Cool the galette 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.
Each of 8 servings: 374 calories; 6 grams protein; 43 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 20 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 54 mg cholesterol; 15 grams sugar; 303 mg sodium.