A Galette (not to be confused with a tart) is a free-form tart made of a single crust of pastry or bread dough. Flaky, light and buttery, it is the perfect vessel for the season’s best produce – pears in the waning days of summer and apples in the fall. But at the peak of summer, when the day’s are long and vacation is plentiful, peaches are the trophy fruit for this classic pastry.
The art of making pastry is not for the faint of heart. It’s time consuming and a bit tedious, and there will surely be a few stumbles along the way. But once you master the perfect flake of a well-turned crust, you will find yourself lured in and hypnotized – and a bit proud – by the act of baking like a true Parisian. Don’t be intimidated by the lengthy steps in this recipe (you will probably want to print it out). Just take your time and have fun.
Although galettes are free-form, there are a couple of ‘musts’ to follow. Cold butter is absolutely key! Flaky crust is achieved by maintaining the separation between the flour and the butter. This can be difficult during the summer but there are a couple of tricks you can try. One, you can freeze 1/2 to 3/4 of the butter called for in this recipe before you work with it. Two, if you find the butter becoming soft while processing just pause and chill the mixture for a bit. Three, you can invest in a marble cutting board which can be chilled in the refrigerator and then used as your work surface. (This trick saved me last summer when I baked 15 galettes for a charity event in my tiny kitchen.)
The other key to a flaky galette is a process called fraisage. This process cuts the butter into the dry ingredients only partially, leaving pebble sized pieces of fat unmixed. You then work with the dough in very small batches, using the heel of your hand to push the dough across your work surface. This evenly distributes the butter by pressing it into long, thin sheets that create the coveted flakiness, similar to a croissant. (Think pushing small amounts of play-doh across the table as a kid and how it flaked off.) If you’ve never made dough by fraisage, there are many videos online that demonstrate the technique.
– 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
– 1/2 cup instant flour
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon sugar
– 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), very cold and cut into 1-inch cubes
– 7-9 Tablespoons ice water
Peach Filling and Glaze
– 3-4 medium peaches, ripe but not overly ripe
– 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
– 2 Tablespoons apricot preserves
– 1 Tablespoon water
1. Combine flours, salt and sugar in a food processor with three 1-second pulses. Scatter butter pieces over the flour, then pulse (around 6 times) to cut butter into flour. The butter should be the size of large 1/2 inch pebbles.
2. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of water over the mixture and pulse 1 time to combine. Repeat, adding 1 Tablespoon of water at a time and pulse until the dough begins to form small curds that hold together when pinched with the fingers. (The dough should look crumbly, and should not form a cohesive ball. Dough should only stick together when pressed between your fingers.)
3. Empty the dough onto your work surface and gather into a rough rectangular mound about 12 inches long by 5 inches wide.
4. Starting at the farthest end, use the heel of your hand to smear a small amount of dough against the work surface, pushing firmly down and away from you. This will create a separate pile of dough, flattened and shaggy looking. Continue this process until all of the dough has been worked.
5. Gather dough into a 12 inches by 5 inches rectangle again and repeat the fraisage (smearing) process. This time the dough will not be smeared as much as the first time and the dough should form a cohesive ball once the entire portion is worked.
6. Form dough into a 4 inch square, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold and firm, but still malleable (about 30 minutes to 1 hour).
7. About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the over to 400°F and adjust oven rack to the middle.
8. Rinse and dry the peaches (and peel, if desired). Then cut peaches into slices that are between 1/8 and 1/4 inches thick.
9. Once the dough has chilled, place it on a floured 16 by 12 inch piece of parchment paper and dust with more flour. Roll the dough until it overhangs on all four sides of the paper. Trim with a knife so that edges are even with the paper.
10. Roll up 1-inch of each edge and pinch firmly to create a 1/2 inch thick border. Transfer the dough onto a parchment (or Silpat liner) covered baking sheet.
11. Starting in one corner, shingle peach slices to form an even row across the bottom of the dough, overlapping each piece. Continue to layer peaches until the dough is covered, then dot peaches lightly with butter and sprinkle with sugar.
12. Bake until bottom of tart is deep golden brown and peaches have caramelized, about 45 to 60 minutes.
13. While the galette is baking, prepare the glaze by combining apricot preserves and water in a small pot. Heat on low, whisking frequently, until combined and uniform.
14. Remove the galette from the oven and gently brush apricot glaze onto the peaches.
15. Allow to cool briefly and serve. Heaping scoop of vanilla bean ice cream is optional (but highly encouraged).