Friday, June 18, 2010
We are approaching the height of apricot season and my impulse is to make one of my favorite pastries, a very basic and rustic Apricot Galette. No complicated ingredients or components, just simple gorgeous fruit baked to such a ridiculous deliciousness that it leaves you dizzy with glee. The pastry dough is buttery and bakes off flaky and crisp, perfectly cradling the magnificent apricots. This combination is just about as good as it gets.
We might consider the galette the French version of American pie. Pie dough has more fat, so it’s more tender and perhaps a bit delicate to handle. Galette dough is sturdy enough to be able to form the pastry without need of a pie pan. It’s very easy to make and anyone who fears pie making can just dive into making a galette without much fear. The results make it such a perfect medium for enjoying fresh ripe fruit.
The bright sunset glow of freshly baked apricots mirrors the perfect blush of nature as we head into summer. Enjoy each and every crunchy-buttery-jammy bite.
- Be sure to use ripe apricots. They should yield just a bit to a gentle touch.
- This dough is handled very little in order to avoid activating the gluten in the flour, which will toughen the pastry. When you add the water to the flour mixture, you’ll wonder how it will ever become a dough, but just keep the faith. It comes together beautifully.
- To finish mixing the dough, the method used is called fraisage, which is simply pressing the heel of your hand into the barely mixed dough and pushing it against the work surface to smear it. Use a bench scraper or metal spatula to scrape up the smeared dough and fold it back on itself. This is a great technique that essentially creates sheets of butter coated in flour, producing flaky layers of buttery dough. As with all pastry doughs, handle gently and be careful not to overmix.
- Sprinkling the fruit with 1/4 cup of sugar seems like an ungodly amount. But baking apricots actually accentuates their tartness, so you do need to sweeten them up. I tend to use just under 3 tablespoons of sugar because I like them puckery, but use the 1/4 cup if you prefer them sweeter.
1 C flour
1 1/2 t sugar
1/8 t salt
3 oz cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 C cold water
1 1/2 lbs of fresh ripe apricots
1/4 C + 1 T sugar, divided
1 T flour
1 t butter, melted
To prepare the galette dough, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the butter pieces and use your hands to toss together. You want to coat each piece of butter thoroughly with flour as well as your hands. Pinch each piece of butter flat between your fingers, working quickly so as not to warm the butter. Keep tossing the mixture to be sure each piece of butter is coated well with flour. Add the cold water and mix gently with a fork or your fingers until the dough just starts to come together, tossing until it just starts to loosely cohere. Gather the dough pieces on a clean work surface. Finish the dough using a motion called fraisage, which is smearing parts of the dough across the work surface with the heel of your hand. Fraisage the dough, then use a bench scraper or metal spatula to get under the smeared dough and gather and fold it back onto itself after each motion. Repeat this process again just a few times until the dough looks like it’s coming together and it feels soft, supple and not sticky. There should be small pieces of butter visible in the dough. Gently pat into a disc and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill the dough at least 30 minutes.
When you are ready to roll out the dough, remove from the refrigerator and rest on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper for a few minutes so it can soften just a bit to prevent cracking. Then roll the dough out to about a 12” – 13” circle and 1/8” thickness, gently lifting and moving the dough after each roll and keeping the parchment lightly floured as needed. When you have the desired shape, brush off any excess flour and lift the parchment onto a flat pizza pan or baking sheet. Chill for about 30 minutes.
Slice the apricots into 1/2” wedges.
Combine 1 tablespoon of sugar with 1 tablespoon of flour and set aside.
Remove the prepared galette round from the refrigerator and sprinkle the flour/sugar mixture evenly across the bottom, leaving about a 1 1/2” border uncoated. Arrange the fruit on top. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of sugar. Lift and gather the dough edges up and on top of the fruit, being very careful not to create any cracks that will cause the galette to leak. Work with both hands, pressing gently to keep the dough in place. Chill until the oven is ready.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the border of dough with melted butter and dust with a light sprinkle of sugar. Bake for about 30 - 40 minutes or until the dough is crisp and browned and the fruit is bubbling.