For someone who used to bake pies for a living every day, I rarely, if ever, make them anymore. I used to pride myself on my ability to coax impossible flake and tenderness out of flour and butter — handling finicky dough into picture-worthy lattices that crackled before giving way to a toothsome filling with each bite.
It's not that I lack the resources or inspiration. Farmers market aside, a step outside my front door presents plum trees burdened with fruit on every corner and gnarly vines of blackberries fringing the sidewalks and ledges. Indeed, the promise of fruit-laden pastry makes it impossible for me not to jump into the brambles, emerging from my raid rich in spoils — as well as scratches, twigs and leaves all over (a small price to pay, in my book).
I've turned my back on my once-beloved pastry because I've found, well, why fuss with pie when I can make a galette? For half the effort, I'm rewarded with a rustic and charming tart that's every bit as impressive and delicious.
I don't have to deal with cajoling the dough into a dish or precariously setting it just right over a filled pan. No need for par-baking, and no holding my breath while the pie cooks, lest my painstaking crimps break or shrink. Simply roll (one disk, not two!), fill, fold the edges (no need to get nitpicky — it's free-form, remember?), slide it into the oven — and voila!
Of course, some basic tenets of pastry still apply: The dough needs to be chilled at all times, given plenty of rest and not overworked. Other no-nos include using too much filling, or using a filling with too much liquid in it; both would be a direct path to the dreaded soggy bottom. But with these rules in mind, anyone can master the art of the open-faced tart.
So, to aid you on your own journey of discovering this pastry's virtues, I offer you a blueprint: an endlessly adaptable recipe. Cornmeal adds texture, heartiness and a touch of sweetness, while sour cream keeps the crust tender and flaky. Use the butter-flecked dough to encase the season's last stone fruit and berries; as fall descends, pair it with figs, apples or pears. Or layer it with a bed of herbed ricotta or caramelized onions before reaching for gem-toned heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market, wilting greens in need of saving or that mound of wild mushrooms foraged and generously gifted by a friend. Ellie Krieger shared her recipe for a whole wheat fruit galette filled with mixed berries.
The galette, in short, will have you baking from summer right into fall. Need to indulge a sweet tooth? Check. Satisfy a hankering for savory? Double check. Bring a dose of golden, buttery sunshine to a rainy afternoon? It's on it. Feed unexpected guests? They'll be singing your praises in no time. And the best part? It won't be as easy as pie — it'll be easier.
Endlessly Adaptable Galette Dough
2 cups flour, plus more as needed
1/2 cup medium or finely ground cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup ice water
1/4 cup sour cream (may substitute buttermilk or plain yogurt)
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the cubed butter and toss to coat. Use a pastry cutter or forks to cut the butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Mix the water and sour cream in a cup, then drizzle a few tablespoons at a time over the flour-butter mixture. Use a flexible spatula to stir in the water, adding a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough is hydrated but not sticky; when you pinch the dough into clumps, it should hold together.
Gather the dough into one mass, then divide it in half, forming 2 disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.
Lightly flour a work surface. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out 1 disk of dough into a 13-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to the baking sheet. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
— Polina Chesnakova
Mushroom, Fennel and Herbed Ricotta Galette
This rustic savory tart makes the most of sauteed mushrooms, fennel and a creamy thyme and Gruyère-flecked ricotta. If you have no mushrooms or fennel, the ricotta also lends itself as a versatile base for whatever seasonal vegetable you might have on hand. (Feel free to swap in different herbs as well.)
1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves, plus 3 or 4 sprigs for garnish
1/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup good-quality, full-fat ricotta
Freshly cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound cremini or shiitake mushrooms (or a mix of both), stemmed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
1 medium shallot, sliced
1/2 Endlessly Adaptable Galette Dough recipe (1 disk, rolled out on a baking sheet; see related recipe)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk, heavy cream or water
Stir together the thyme, Gruyère and ricotta in a medium bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the mushrooms; cook for about 10 minutes, until the liquid they release evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the wine; this will help to deglaze the pan, as you use a sturdy spatula to dislodge any browned bits in the skillet. Cook until the wine evaporates. Season lightly with salt, then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same skillet, over medium heat. Stir in the fennel and shallot; cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the vegetables have softened and begin to take on color. Season lightly with salt, then transfer to the bowl with mushrooms and toss to incorporate.
Remove the rolled-out round of dough (recipe below) from the refrigerator. Spread the herbed-ricotta mixture evenly over dough, leaving a 2-inch margin all around. Top with the mushroom-fennel mixture. Fold the edges partially over the filling, pleating it at points to make a circle. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the egg and the milk, heavy cream or water in a small bowl.
When ready to bake, brush the edges of galette dough with the egg wash and sprinkle all over with more Gruyère; garnish with thyme sprigs. Bake (middle rack) for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden brown and crisp, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through. Serve warm or at room temperature.
— Polina Chesnakova
Honeyed Fig and Walnut Galette
Nestled inside this sweet galette are ripe, juicy figs glazed with warm vanilla- and orange-scented honey and walnuts. If your figs are quite soft and ripe, simply drizzle the honey over the fruit instead of tossing them with it. If you don't have figs, use whatever fruit is at peak deliciousness. The assembled galette needs to rest in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes, or up to 1 day in advance.
3 tablespoons finely chopped or ground walnuts
1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounces small fresh figs, stemmed and each cut in half
1/2 Endlessly Adaptable Galette Dough recipe (1 disc, rolled out on a baking sheet; see recipe below)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk, heavy cream or water
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
Creme fraiche, for serving (optional)
Combine the ground walnuts, flour and granulated sugar in a small bowl. Place the honey in a microwave-safe mixing bowl; microwave on LOW for 10 to 15 seconds, or until warmed through and runny. Stir in the vanilla extract or paste, the orange zest and salt. Add the figs and toss gently to coat.
Remove the rolled-out round of dough from the refrigerator. Scatter the walnut-flour mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 2-inch margin all around. Arrange the halved figs in a circular pattern, again leaving the same margin. Drizzle any glaze left in the bowl over the fruit.
Fold the edges over the filling, pleating at points to make a circle. Refrigerate for 25 to 30 minutes to chill and set the dough.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the egg and milk, heavy cream or water in a small bowl.
Brush the edges of the galette with the egg wash, then sprinkle all over with the turbinado sugar. Bake (middle rack) for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden brown and crisp, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through. Cool for 30 minutes. Serve wedges with dollops of creme fraiche, if desired.
— Polina Chesnakova
Mixed Berry Galette
As an open-faced pie, fruit galettes are inherently better for you than a typical double-crust fruit pie because it involves a single layer of pastry that envelopes the fruit. This recipe takes the health of it a step further with tender whole-grain pastry flour and olive oil in the crust. The fruit is lightly sweetened with honey and given a deep, jammy flavor dimension with a splash of balsamic vinegar.
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup honey, or more as needed
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons ice water
4 cups mixed berries, cut as needed (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Combine the flour and salt in a food processor; pulse to blend. Stop to drizzle in the oil and 1 tablespoon of the honey, then add the butter and pulse, about 12 times, until the butter is the size of small pebbles. Add the ice water; pulse 3 to 5 times, just until incorporated.
Lay one large piece of wax paper or parchment paper on the counter. Transfer the dough there, then cover with a second piece of paper. Roll (on top of the paper) to create a 9-inch round of dough that is even in thickness. Slide the papered dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days in advance.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Combine the berries with the remaining 3 tablespoons of honey (or more as needed, depending on the sweetness of the berries) and the vinegar in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the cornstarch and toss until evenly coated.
Carefully remove and discard the top piece of wax paper or parchment from the chilled round of dough. Carefully invert the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, then remove the remaining piece of paper (stuck to the dough). If the dough cracks, use your fingers to patch it up.
Mound the berry mixture at the center of the dough round, leaving a 2-inch margin around the edges. Fold that border of dough toward the center of the filling; it will cover the filling only partially and does not need to be even all the way around.
Bake (middle rack) for 10 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 30 minutes, until the berries are tender and the crust is golden brown.
Cool completely on the baking sheet before cutting into wedges.
— Ellie Krieger