Is there any better combination than apples and cinnamon? In my experience, no. Add pastry in the mix, and Heaven is nearly reached. I love anything with this pairing – from deep-dish apple pie to flaky turnovers filled with delicate spice and bits of sweet fruit. If two foods could be married, I’d vote for apples and cinnamon.
This month’s issue of Food & Wine magazine features “All-Time Greatest Recipes from Legendary Chefs.” The segment on the internationally-recognized French chef, Jacques Pepin, includes his recipe for a plum galette, using his famous pate brisee (paht-bri-zay). Galettes are rustic, free-form tarts that can be of sweet or savory nature.
Pepin’s pate brisee is considered “fool-proof” – requiring only a few minutes, a food processor, and very COLD ingredients. The assisting blade of the food processor ensures that the cold butter is multiplied amongst the flour into tons of tiny bits of glorious fat interspersing throughout the dough…which indicates one thing. A tender, flaky pastry will come out of your oven. After pulsing the butter with the flour, salt, and sugar, the cold water brings about a quick cohesion. Easy!
Since plums aren’t in season here, I actually found and used his recipe for an apple galette. It took only about 20 minutes to prepare the filling and pastry, so this would make a great last-minute dessert. That Jacques was onto something brilliant when he fanned out thinly-sliced apples onto a buttery dough, and topped them with a drizzle of honey and a dusting of cinnamon and sugar.
I love the unrefined look of galettes, which are also called “crostatas” by Italians.
I’m not the most experienced pastry-maker, so I think my dough got a little too warm when I was rolling it out. (I had several shortbread cookie mishaps during the holidays due to this.) You really MUST work fast and avoid handling it too much. Once in the oven, I kept nervously turning on the oven light to check the status of the pastry. Luckily, it turned out perfect. I look forward to trying other fillings, perhaps some caramelized onions & gorgonzola. The possibilities are endless!
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup ice water
4 Golden Delicious apples
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey, preferably wildflower
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
In a food processor, combine the flour with the sugar, salt and butter and process for about 5 seconds. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture and process until the pastry just begins to come together, about 10 seconds; you should still be able to see small pieces of butter in it. Transfer the pastry to a work surface, gather it together and pat into a disk. Wrap the pastry in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate until chilled. (You can also roll out the pastry and use it right away.)
Peel, halve and core the apples and slice them crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Set aside the larger center slices and coarsely chop the end slices and any broken ones; about half of the slices should be chopped. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.
Preheat the oven to 400°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a 12-by-14-inch rectangle and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread the chopped apples over the pastry to within 1 inch of the edge. Drizzle the honey over the chopped apples.
Decoratively arrange the apple slices on top in concentric circles or in slightly overlapping rows. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the apples and dot with the pieces of butter. Fold the pastry edge up and over the apples to create a 1-inch border.
Bake the galette for about 1 hour, until the pastry is nicely browned and crisp and all of the apples are tender. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the galette cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*MAKE AHEAD The buttery pastry can be refrigerated overnight.
I’m constantly amazed at how just a handful of basic ingredients can result in such exquisite harmony.