How to Make a Galette Without a Recipe
Warm summer fruits desserts are my weakness. Every year when June rolls around, I pretend to get really excited about beach days, late sunsets, open-toed shoes, and white jeans, but in reality, I could do without all of that (although they are all quite nice). As long as I’ve got a warm, flaky crust paired with a sweet, farmers’ market fruit concoction, then I’ve got all the summertime essentials that I need. And maybe some SPF wouldn’t hurt, either.
People are terrified of homemade pie dough, and they offer no shortage of reasons why this kitchen task is significantly more difficult than the rest. The humidity! The chilled butter! The ice water! The gluten! Okay, everybody calm TF down. Yes, there’s no denying that there are a lot of finicky factors that go into a delicious, buttery crust, and if something is a little wonky, then your crust might not be perfect. However, let’s not get carried away. When it comes down to the building blocks, pie dough is flour, fat, and water. That’s it. Why complicate it and shy away in terror from a good thing? Besides, perfection is overrated.
If you’re someone who has always backed out of any baking project involving pie dough or you’re in need of a summer fruit dessert that you know you can depend on (especially if you’re expecting guests), then it’s time you upped your galette game (or a crostata, whatever you want to call it). This effortlessly rustic, yet still undeniably elegant, dessert is the perfect gateway pastry for a nervous or beginner cook (or a lazy expert cook). First things first, you need to get it out of your head that you need to be a servant to a precise, foolproof recipe. You don’t! Loosen up! Here’s how.
Search the internet for a butter crust recipe, and you’ll find millions that are all slightly different, some of which have upwards of 10 ingredients. To that, I say, “no.” Flour, sugar, salt, butter, water. There are definitely other ways to do this, and there are certainly other legitimate ingredients that you can add, but for the purpose of ease and simplicity, let’s just stick to the basics. For one galette (which serves about 6, depending on the appetites), you’ll need about 1¼ cup all-purpose flour, 1 stick chilled butter*, 2 teaspoons sugar, pinch of salt, and ¼ cup ice water. Scale up or down these ratios as you so choose. As you make more and more of these (trust me, you will), you’ll start to get a feel for when your dough is too dry or wet, but if you loosely follow these ratios, you will be #just #fine. Are you still breathing? Good.
Using a pastry cutter or your hands (I vote hands, but it’s your call), press the butter into a mixture of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt) until the dough forms into small crumbles no larger than a pea. From here, add your ice water, and form your dough into a 2-inch tall disk. Seal her up in some plastic wrap and let her sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days. In the meantime, get your fruit filling ready.
If I were a more responsible adult, then at some point in my life, I might have measured out just how much fruit goes into the roughly 10-inch galettes that I am so fond of making. However, I’m not there yet. They’re called eyeballs, and they are very useful during this step. Cut up whatever fruit you’d like (berries and stone fruits all get two big thumbs up), toss in a couple hefty tablespoons of sugar, squeeze in fresh lemon juice (lemon zest is legit, too) and a couple teaspoons of cornstarch (to help keep your fruit juices from being too runny). Taste your mixture, and if it’s sweet and delicious, then you’re good to go. Remember, the riper the fruit, the sweeter it is, so you may need to adjust how much sugar you add accordingly.
Once your dough has been in the fridge for a chilly minute (this is so that the gluten can rest #JustScienceThings), it’s time to roll her out and load her up. Make sure you’re working on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin (don’t have one? Use a wine bottle.). Do your best here to roll out the dough into a circle with roughly a 12-inch diameter. We’re not looking for perfection here—you can do this. Transfer your dough to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, add your fruit filling (leaving about 1-2 inches around the edge clear), and fold the sides up. If you got a little excited and made too much fruit mixture for your galette crust to handle (the fruit filling should not look like an enormous mountain), then throw your leftovers on a bowl of yogurt or ice cream, and go to town on that sh*t. Keep in mind that the edges of your crust aren’t going to be straight, the galette is not going to be a perfect circle, and the creases around the pastry might be a little janky. It’s an expressive, free-form dessert and IT IS OK.
Give the edges a brush of heavy cream or an egg wash, and finish it off with a sprinkle of sugar. Toss it in the oven (I like it at 375°) and bake for anywhere from 20-45 minutes (rotating from time to time). It’s done when the fruit center is bubbling** and the crust is golden brown. Pretty much every galette I have ever made has at least one faulty crease where fruit juice likes to leak out of—I don’t sweat it. In fact, I tell myself that it adds character and a unique aesthetic to each creation.
What I’m trying to say is that, when you’re cooking with flour, butter, sugar, and fresh summer fruit, it’s going to be delicious, regardless. And since it’s a galette as opposed to an intricate pie with a braided lattice top, if it looks kind of flawed and disfigured when you pull it out of the oven, you’re allowed to reason that this look was intended for. Own it, champ. You did this. Now plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream on that beauty and get to work. If you’ve got any level of self-control, set aside a slice for breakfast tomorrow so that you can wake up to a gentle reminder that you are, in fact, a pastry master.
*You can sub out flour and butter for alt-flours and alt-butters if you so choose, but to keep things simple, let’s stick to all-purpose and unsalted, respectively.
**If you’re working with softer fruit fillings like raspberries or figs, make sure to keep a closer eye on these. They’re not going to be able to withstand a hot oven for upwards of 30 minutes.