It’s rustic and nonchalant, as it needs no prebaking or precooking. Just roll out the pastry, pile on apples and bake. Apple galette or apple crostata – however you call it, it’s autumnal dessert bliss.
Sometimes only a simple apple galette will do, with a scoop of ice cream or a squirt of whipped cream. A simple open pie, a crostata or a tart, as those bakes are variously called.
But whatever the name, the shortcrust base with a pile of barely sweet, barely cooked fruit is one of my favourite treats.
All about shortcrust pastry
There are many different types of shortcrust pastry, with the main variant being the liquid element, the thing that makes a pile of coarse crumbs turn into cohesive dough.
There are no immutable ingredients in the pastry. Flour, fat and some sort of liquid, with or without sugar depending on the pastry purpose, is all it takes. But each of these ingredients can vary quite a lot.
Flour in the basic version is plain and wheat but it may be livened up with ground nuts or almonds, polenta, rice or corn flour. You can’t avoid using some wheat flour or the pastry will dissolve into powder, but the plain flour might be substituted with a gluten free mix, if necessary.
In savoury pies and tarts adding some grated cheese, Cheddar or Parmesan, makes it super tasty. Sweet versions can be zinged up with citrus zest, spices, flavourings, extracts or essences.
The fat is usually butter. Old school recipes recommend lard or shortening, and modern, vegan ones substitute oils for butter.
Lard pastry is the crumbliest and the ‘shortest’, while oil makes a reasonably usable mix but it’s not fit for rolling out – the pastry crumbs must be pressed into the dish or tin as there is no cohesion in it.
The liquid binding varies enormously from recipe to recipe: eggs or just yolks, iced water or milk, cream or juice, and even dry white wine in Italian spongata.
Again, the outcome varies depending on what you use: pastry with eggs is more elastic while with just water is crumbly and melting.
This recipe, courtesy of Melissa Clark of NY Times, features a whole egg, double cream and lemon juice. It’s gorgeous and failsafe, best suited for an open, rustic galette like this. For a pie its texture might not be quite short enough.
Chilling the crust
A lot of recipes tell us to work cold ingredients quickly and with cold hands, so the pastry is kept as chilly as possible.
I think it is not so strictly necessary: the best results I have had are with softened fat, a long rest in the fridge but a warm-up before rolling out.
The key is to chill the pastry or the shaped product just before baking i.e., bake from chilled.
Filling for a fruit galette
Apples are easy fillers, they can be pre-cooked for pies and tarts, or sliced and arranged on the pastry base raw. They don’t leach as much juice as berries or stone fruit so nor the crust needs to be blind baked.
It really depends on what you want: soft jammy filling of apple puree or slightly crunchy and fresher apple slices in still discernible shapes.
But it is a good tip to spread some jam, curd or cream cheese over the pastry base before placing the fruit in it, to act as insulation. It will protect the crust from getting soggy – nobody wants soggy bottoms!
All in all it is a quick and easy dessert, a must in apple season, and filled with any other fruit you like and is plentiful at any given time.
What apple variety for apple galette?
Cooking apples for cooking, right? Not always. The main difference between so called cooking and ‘eating’ or dessert apples is that the former are tarter.
So if you add cooking apple chunks into cake batter with lots of added sugar, they will be perfect in the balance.
But for a pie or a galette like this one, dessert apples will be better as they’ll add sweetness to not-so-sweet pastry. Braeburn, Cox, the wonderful Russets or even Granny Smith are all a good pick.
More apple recipes
The best crust and a lovely filling – you can’t beat a good apple pie!
Brown apple cake is a 5-minute cake, save the baking. With chunks of apple, a hint of cocoa and lots of cinnamon it’s the pinnacle of autumn bakes.
Norwegian epplekake, with almonds and cinnamon, is a cross between a tart and a cake.
More galette recipes
A savoury version, tomato crostata (crostata is the Italian counterpart of galette) is best made with fleshy tomatoes, San Marzano or similar.
Pumpkin and cranberry pie is very much like crostata or galette, as it features an open top. But since it comes from America, they call it a pie!
Here the twist is in the pastry: this mushroom and fondue pie is made from layers of filo.