Most of the time, I hate getting advice. Maybe I’m a know-it-all, but I like to think I can at the very least figure things out myself. Generally that means I make a lot of very avoidable mistakes (ice-related car crash over the Santiam Pass ten minutes after Mom tells you to drive SLOW and avoid sharp turns = embarrassing), but I guess that’s life.
Anyway, even though I’m not into taking suggestions, allow me to impart on you all a little wisdom I learned the hard way: don’t, as in DO NOT, try to make a pie crust with all the blinds up in the middle of siesta time in southern Spain. I know it’s hard to take, but trust me, it will save you a lot of heartache. Why shouldn’t I? you may ask. To which I answer, just trust me. But just to hammer the lesson home, here are a few reasons.
1. Your host family will think you are crazy for bumbling around in the kitchen right after lunch.
2. You will absolutely miss your nap and then you will be cranky.
3. All the butter in your dough will melt in .25 seconds and you will have to constantly throw everything in the freezer to keep your crust from being ruined.
For those of you with no pastry experience, that last reason might be a little weird. After all, you might say, doesn’t it all go in the oven anyway? And isn’t butter supposed to melt during baking?
Well, yes. But the key phrase there is during baking. Allow me to go all Bakewise on you for a second: the most important part of making awesome pastry is keeping the fat COLD and therefore separate from the dry ingredients. What makes a crust flaky is the pockets of butter that melt in the oven, leaving little holes all over the pastry. When I first started making pies, I had no idea how important this was, so I was always disappointed in the slightly soggy crusts I ended up with. But once you get the technique of “cutting in” the fat (butter, shortening, or lard) while it’s still cold, you’re almost guaranteed a successful pie crust.
Hence, the issue of the burning hot Spanish sun.
Fortunately, at the end of the day I managed to get away with it. My crust wasn’t perfect, but my audience (Hi Asa! Hi Elisabeth!) was appreciative and kind. I’m just glad Chuqui, chef extraordinaire, wasn’t around to give it a try – experts are a little harder to impress!
Despite its shortcomings, the galette was a great bookend to my nouveau-American dinner. Since it was the first time I’ve cooked for Asa, I wanted a menu that was representative of the kind of food most Americans grew up eating, but dressed up a little. I made an ok version of this smoked gouda mac and cheese (through no fault of the recipe – trust, it’s a great one. Mine just turned out a little bland thanks to the lack of cheese options available at the supermarket here) along with some fabulous asparagus. I based my dish off of a Bon Appetit recipe for green beans, leaving out the parsley and adding lemon juice along with the zest.
But as good as the regular meal was, the galette truly was the star. Asa had some Swedish vanilla sauce that is traditionally paired with apple and pear pastries, so we drizzled some of that on top. The sweet sauce was a great complement to the extra-tart apples – next time I’ll have to make my own!
Rustic Apple Galette
Recipe adapted from Lemon Chocolate Salt
Makes 4-5 servings
Smitten Kitchen‘s All-Butter Crust, halved
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 ounces (1 stick/half cup/115 grams) unsalted butter, COLD, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 cup ice water
- 4 medium size Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 tbsp butter, melted
- 3 tbsp sugar
Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in medium-to-large bowl. Cut in butter using two forks, fingers (carefully), or a pastry blender (recommended) until butter chunks are pea-sized and integrated into the flour. Be careful not to overmix – really.