When it comes to pie, there are crust people and there are filling people. I, for one, have always been on Team Filling. To me, nothing tastes more like summer than a blackberry pie fresh from the oven, bursting with berries picked from the bushes down the road. During apple season in the fall, there’s nothing like a piece of hot apple pie, filled to the brim with tart, tender apples and the sharp bite of cinnamon. Blueberry, cherry, strawberry rhubarb, coconut cream, lemon meringue, peach, pecan, I love them all. I rate pie by the quality of its filling, and have always been pretty “meh” about the crust.
That’s why, though it bruises my baker ego to say it, I tend to cheat a little when it comes to making pie. Or a lot. Several years back, after a particularly unsuccessful attempt at a pie crust that simply refused to stay together, I dumped out the crumbly mess, wiped my tears of frustration, and headed to the store for a pre-made pie crust. As I peeled off the packaging to expose the perfectly smooth, uniformly thick pie crust, I took a moment to give thanks to the brilliant individual who came up with the idea of refrigerated pie crust. And, shameful as it is, I never looked back. I made dozens of pies over the years, and though I put lots of time and care into creating delicious, homemade fillings, I always relied on that handy-dandy pre-made crust.
Looking back, my apathy towards pie crust isn’t too surprising: I’d been eating pie crust that was made from vegetable oil, not butter, crust that was pumped full of preservatives and emptied of flavor. Then came a busy day, a need for a dessert, and a recipe that promised to produce a quick, delicious, homemade treat that would bring success to even the most hopeless pie-crust-makers. A galette, which I’d never tried before, is basically a pie without the top crust. And the feature it’s best known for is its “rustic” (aka, justifiably messy) appearance. Perfect.
I took advantage of the fresh bing cherries brought over by a neighbor and put together the quick, 4-ingredient crust in about 5 minutes. After refrigerating, you just have to roll the dough out, trim it into a circle, dump the fruit into the middle, and fold the crust around the edges. Best of all, the goal is to look rustic (read: messy). An hour later, you have a golden-brown, bubbling, open-face pie without the trouble of making the crusts look pretty and perfectly crimped. The plump, juicy cherries were delicious, yet they didn’t steal the thunder from the second star of the show: the flaky, buttery crust. I still have a soft spot for pie filling, but after my eye-opening galette experience I just may be open to making a little room in my foodie heart for crust, too.
1/4 tsp salt
11 Tbs cold butter
4-6 Tbs ice water
4 cups fresh pitted cherries (or any other fruit you may desire)
3 Tbs flour
1/3 cup white sugar (more or less to taste)
2 Tbs cold butter
1/2 tsp almond extract (omit, or use lemon juice instead, if using a fruit other than cherries)
Stir together flour and salt. Cut butter into small cubes and toss onto flour mixture. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or two forks. When butter is in pea-sized chunks, drizzle in ice water one tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork as you go. When the dough seems to be moist enough, pat it all together into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Put cherries into a large bowl and sprinkle with flour and sugar. Add almond extract and stir it all together. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll into a disc at least 12 inches by 12 inches (there will be leftover dough). If desired, trim the edges to make the crust more circular. Then fold the dough in half, then in half again, and transfer to a large, un-greased cookie sheet. Unfold the dough. Dump the cherries into the middle and dot with 1 Tbs of butter cut into little pieces. Take the edges of the dough and pull them into the center, pleating as you go. If needed, moisten your fingers with a little water and smooth over the pleated areas to make it all stick together. Melt the last tablespoon of butter and brush it over the crust. Sprinkle with a little sugar, place on the oven’s middle rack, and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling. Let cool on the sheet for at least 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
(Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites)