The Apple of My Eye

My husband, Farmer Paul (aka Fisherman Paul, Hiker Paul and all variety of other vigorous and productive activities), and I sat on the patio after dinner (The Silver Palate Cookbook, page 187 - Red Snapper with Butter and Shallot Sauce), sipped a little white wine and admired our garden. A plopping sound cut through the quiet. "Apple down," he said, jumping up to snatch a beautifully ripe and pretty big Macintosh from the grass under the laden branches of our supposedly (another story for another day) dwarf variety of self pollinating apple tree. "Let's go in and bake a pie."

I haven't made an actual pie in a long time. My youngest son hasn't lived home since college and a whole pie is just too big for three of us to eat before the crust goes soggy. What you see in the picture here is a piece of last night's Apple Blueberry Galette with a side dollop of homemade creme fraiche. Galettes are my specialty. Sounds fancy, doesn't it? So around here everyone calls it a pie or a tart because it would be too weird for Farmer Paul to say, "Let's go in and bake a galette."

Our division of labor when cooking together has a rhythm. Paul peels, cores and drops the apple wedges into a small bowl of lemon water while I create a piecrust that, for the most part, comes out consistently well. It takes only half of a double crust recipe shared with me by my late mother-in-law more than thirty years ago and to which I added ground oats or almonds to make it my own. I saved the other half in zip lock bag to make another galette over the weekend. The dough stays well for close to a week in the refrigerator. The baked dessert won't last that long.


BASIC APPLE GALETTE

Pie Crust
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup ground quick oats or almonds (pulse in food processor until fine ground)
dash of salt
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup really cold water

Fruit Filling
3 cups sliced apple wedges (about 4 large or 6 medium sized pie apples)
1/3 cup granulated or brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh minced ginger (optional)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tab butter melted (microwave)
1/4 cup blueberries or dried cranberries (optional)

To Finish Crust
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1 tablespoon turbinado or raw sugar

Make the pastry dough by combining flour, sugar, ground oats, and salt in a processor; pulse 2-3 times. Add shortening and pulse 4-5 times, or until mixture holds together in the shape of small peas. With the processor running, slowing pour the water through the chute, processing until the dough forms a ball. You may or may not use all the water, this is the tricky part of making a flaky crust. Not to worry, mine isn't always perfect but even picky Paul says I make good crust. Remove the dough ball and adhere any remaining pieces of dough to it, split dough into two balls, drop each in a zip loc bag and refrigerate. Preheat to 350 degrees F.

While the oven is preheating, combining all filling ingredients except butter in a large bowl, and toss gently, making sure that the cornstarch is coating the fruit. (This will prevent too much juice from leaking out while the galette bakes.) This should take about 15-20 minutes, just enough time for your dough to be chilled. Remove one dough ball from the refrigerator and place on a sheet of aluminum foil sprinkled liberally with flour. Roll out the dough, forming into a 14-15-inch circle or oval or rectangle... whatever shape your crust takes is part of the fun of baking a free form pie pouch. Place the foil with rolled dough on a baking sheet.

Add the fruit mixture to the center of the dough, leaving about 2-inch border. Drizzle melted butter over fruit. Fold the pastry border over the filling, overlap where necessary and press gently to adhere the folds. Brush the edges with milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes. (Cutting too quickly will cause crust to crack). Optional garnishes include rum raisin ice cream, creme fraiche (The Silver Palate Cookbook, page 339), or fresh whipped cream.

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