|Free form galettes are a simple, speedy way to make delicious fruit pies. A layer of ground almonds helps to absorb the juice.
My mom is a pastry wizard. She can create the most beautifully crimped and scalloped pie crusts and lovely ornate lattice pie tops. I on the other hand lack the patience for all of that so am more of a galette girl, preferring the speed of a rustic free form pie.
We grew up eating lots of pies. Strawberry-rhubarb in the early summer, then onto raspberry, blueberry in late August and lots of apple pies in the fall. Butterscotch pie, lemon merengue and coconut cream pies were real treats since we hardly ever had them.
Whether you prefer fruit or something sweeter, you can’t have a good pie without good pastry and pre-made pie crusts just don’t cut it. Compared to homemade pastry they’re tasteless and a little gluey. I know this because I grew up eating my mom’s pie crust. Hers was always crispy, flakey and flavourful, so yummy that we’d even eat the leftover scraps, baked with a little cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top.
Making homemade pastry needn’t be intimidating.
The key is to use icy cold butter and work it in only until it’s pea-sized. That’s what makes it flakey. I prefer to make pastry in the food processor but it’s easy to make by hand too.
This recipe came from the mother of a friend of my brother’s. It will make three good-sized galettes and freezes well.
Adrienne’s infallible pie crust
5 cups flour (whole wheat pasty flour or spelt is delicious)
1 lb cold, hard butter (or shortening, if you must) cut into cubes
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
Icy cold water (to make one cup)
With a pastry blender or two knives cut the butter into the flour until it’s pea-sized.
Break the egg into a one-cup measure. Beat it a bit then add vinegar. Fill the cup to the brim with icy cold water.
Pour half of the egg mix into the flour, stir a bit then add the remaining. Don’t mix thoroughly.
Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and bring it together, kneading just enough to incorporate the flour. You don’t want to work it too much.
Divide into three pieces, pat into disks and chill at least an hour. Freezes well.
To make a galette (with a ground almond base):
Roll out a disk of pastry until it’s about 1/8 of an inch thick.
Sprinkle with a mixture of 4 Tbsp ground almonds or walnuts, 2 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp sugar. Spread to within 2” of the edge.
Spread over 3-4 cups of fruit tossed with some sugar (the amount of sugar depends on the sweetness of the fruit. Taste and decide). Fold the pastry edges up over the fruit, tucking it in where necessary. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp of sugar and bake at 375 F for about 45 minutes.