You know how they say most people are either Cooks or Bakers? Well…
I fall squarely in the Cooks camp. Cooking feels more improvisational and forgiving compared with baking, which rewards science-like precision and seems to enjoy punishing my cake and me if I forget just the tiniest teaspoon of baking powder. I was never much of a science kid in school, always gravitating towards classes like English where “there is no wrong answer,” which probably explains why a fruit galette is my kind of baked good.
A galette is a free-form open pie (free form!) where the crust is wrapped around whatever fruit you happen to have lying around, and because they are so forgiving, they appear as routinely in my kitchen as a green salad or a quick skillet meal. In fact, they require so little concentration that I’m almost always making one at the same time that I’m putting together dinner.
A galette’s appeal is in its rusticity, code for It’s fine to just make it up as you go along. I don’t even use a mixing bowl for the fruit mixture. I simply dump what I have into the center of a pie dough (this is a store bought one), making sure to maintain a two-inch perimeter of dough, then use my fingers to mix in sugar, corn starch, lemon juice, or whatever else. A mixed berry galette wins bonus points because it doesn’t even ask me to peel anything.
No measuring, just squeezing!
Though my favorite galette combination is probably peach and blueberry, most of the time my thought process goes like this: Oh those raspberries are an hour away from going rotten. What about those blackberries hiding in the back of the fridge? It’s always a great day when I have a homemade pie dough in the freezer (like above), but there is zero shame in store bought.
Another thing I love? A galette is the perfect size for a group of four or five. Sometimes I’ll sprinkle Demerara sugar on the crust before baking, which gives it a little texture and a subtle deeper molasses flavor.
Usually I taste the fruit before I mix in the sugar — if the berries are more tart than usual, I’ll up the amount I need. If they are sweet and already breaking down, I might use less. For this one (peach, blackberry, blueberry) I also added a little almond extract. You can use vanilla extract, too. Or coconut. Remember: There’s no wrong answer!
Free-Form Summer Galette
The parchment paper makes my life easier in the clean-up department and allows for easy transfer once the galette is out of the oven, but you can bake it directly on the baking sheet if you want to. Also: If you are making your own pie dough, the link here yields two pie rounds, so use one now and freeze the second for next week. You’ll be so happy it’s waiting for you.
1 9-to-10-inch pie dough round (store bought, such as Pillsbury, or homemade)
3 to 4 cups of fruit: peeled and sliced peaches or nectarines, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries (sliced), raspberries
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
juice from half a small lemon
1 tablespoon butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 egg, whisked
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar (optional)
vanilla ice cream, for serving
Heat oven to 425°F. Place pie dough on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Add fruit to the center, leaving about a 2-inch border. (The fruit should be in an even layer, not piled higher in the center.) Sprinkle in sugar, cornstarch, extract, and lemon juice and, using your fingers, gently mix everything together. Fold in the edges of the dough to partially cover the fruit, overlapping and pleating as you go around the perimeter. (This will happen naturally.) Dot the top of the fruit with butter and, using a pastry brush or your fingers, paint the edges of the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes, then turn heat down to 350°F without opening the oven. Bake another 20 minutes until fruit is bubbly and crust is golden.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Thoughts? Will you make this?