Here’s a rustic and elegant dessert from scratch that’s much easier to pull off than homemade pie; you won’t have to worry about rolling out a perfectly round piece of pastry or transferring it to a pie plate.
A galette is a free-form tart, nothing more than lightly sweetened, thin slices of fresh fruit wrapped in a lazy envelope of pastry dough. You can just roll out the dough and assemble the thing right there on the counter; you don’t have to mess with rolling a perfectly round piece of pastry or transferring the dough to a pie plate (and trying not to cry when it falls apart in your hands, as it so often does). You also don’t have to worry about cornstarch or other thickeners for the filling — with just one layer of thinly sliced fruit, most of the excess juices evaporate during baking. A galette is, by nature, rustic and elegantly imperfect.
The nice thing about a galette is that it’s so much easier to make than a pie, and yet so much less ordinary. I’m seeing galettes on dessert menus more often these days… I think the galette might be the new cupcake.
- 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 ounces cold cream cheese, cubed
- 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for dotting
- 1 1/2 tablespoon ice water
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 3 medium-sized, firm-ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon refined sugar
- 1 egg, beaten lightly
- 1-2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 2 or 3 times. Add the cream cheese to the flour mixture. Process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the butter to the flour mixture, and pulse until the butter pieces are the size of small peas. Do not overprocess the dough — you should still see small, solid pieces of butter.
Remove the cover and sprinkle the ice water and cider vinegar over the dough mixture. Pulse 5 or 6 more times until fully incorporated. The dough will still look loose and crumbly at this point; don’t worry!
Remove the blade from the food processor and carefully transfer the mixture to a large freezer bag. Working the exterior of the bag with the palms of your hands, press the dough together and gently knead it until the dough forms a sticky ball. Remove the dough from the freezer bag, wrap in plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before rolling out. Meanwhile, combine the pears in a shallow bowl with the lemon juice and sugar. Toss to coat the pears.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Remove the dough round from the refrigerator and roll it into a 14-inch circle on a large piece of parchment paper. (Hint: Tape the corners of the parchment paper to your work surface to keep it from sliding around while you roll out the dough.)
Trim the edges of the dough so that they are roughly even. Working from the outside in, arrange the pear slices tightly in overlapping, concentric circles, leaving a 2-inch margin around the perimeter of the pastry. Fold the edges of the pastry inward toward the center of the galette, tucking any uneven edges under and folding the pastry over the pear edges.
Carefully transfer the galette to a cookie sheet by picking up the edges of parchment paper. Before baking, dot the pears with a few bits of unsalted butter and brush the pastry with the beaten egg. Sprinkle the entire galette with the turbinado sugar and transfer to the oven.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the pears are soft and bubbling. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or room temperature.