Fall has got to be my favorite season. Ever. I love the crispness in the air. It’s just cold enough for a cute jacket (and in the last two weeks I’ve bought a bunch of cute jackets…just can’t help myself!) or sweater, but not cold enough yet for scarves, mittens, hats and puffy, shape obscuring down coats. It’s refreshing, not suck-the-air-from-your-lungs cold. I love the colors – the reds, yellows, browns, oranges that blanket the ground and cling to trees. I love that “back to school” feeling I get each fall. To quote a character from one of my favorite movies, “It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils…”. I love the food of fall – the warm soups, crates of apples, winter squashes. It’s cozy. And it makes my house smell all delicious and apple-y and maple-y. Yum.
I have something I need to admit. I, a lover of all things Pie, have not ever made a pie. Or a pie crust. I love pies of all sorts – creamy pumpkin; gooey, almost-too-sweet pecan; fresh, cinnamon-y apple; crumbles and meat and egg-based pies and free-form galettes. Savory or sweet, in my opinion, there is nothing you can’t put in a pie.
And so for me to have waited *nearly* twenty-six years to have baked a pie is just wrong. So when the urge hit, I embraced it. I scoured online recipes for pie recipes, zoning in on the free-form galette. I like the freedom that a galette affords, yet the simple elegance it shows. The little apple slices arranged in neat little circles, like petals on some magical apple-pie flower (oh, if only there was such a place like the room in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory filled with edible candy flowers…). And one of the best things about a galette (besides not needing a pie dish – which I have no idea if my parents even have) is the fact that it’s supposed to look thrown together. It’s supposed to look “rustic” and free-form. Perfect!
I knew I wanted an apple galette, but that seemed a little boring. Plain apples, cinnamon and nutmeg? B-O-R-I-N-G. So I the spirit of fall, I glazed the apples pre-baking and during the last 5 minutes of baking with organic, pure maple syrup. Mmmm – Fall. I improvised the filling as I went, so your galette will probably taste differently than mine did, but I think that’s how pies should be. They’re homemade. They shouldn’t be the same each time. The pie crust, however, I used a recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen – best pie crust I’ve ever had!
1 Cup flour, all-purpose
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 Tablespoons ice water
3 medium apples (I used Honeycrisp, which made a sweeter galette – but this would be excellent with a more sour apple like Granny Smith)
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
approximately 1/4 cup sliced almonds, crushed or chopped to make smaller
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
For the crust
Combine 1 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Using a fork, two table knives or a pastry cutter, cut in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Mix in 4 tablespoons of ice water one tablespoon at at time, making sure to incorporate all of the dry ingredients. Knead very briefly, if needed, to incorporate all dry ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
After the dough has rested 30 minutes, roll it out on a well floured surface until it is 1/8 inch thick. Don’t worry about getting it into a perfect circle. It won’t be perfect. Just make sure it’s in a circular shape and it’s 1/8 inch thick and you’re good to go. Return the dough to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes. I find it’s easier to transfer the dough to the baking tray before this last refrigeration period and refrigerate the dough on the tray it’s going to be baked on, but it’s not necessary. Also, you will probably want to line the baking sheet with either parchment aluminum foil to make clean-up easier.
For the filling
Peel the three apples and slice them 1/4 inch thick. Toss the sliced apples with the 1 Tablespoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg and 1 Tablespoon flour. Set aside.
Remove the pre-rolled dough from the refrigerator and sprinkle 2/3 of the almonds on the dough in a circle, leaving approximately 1.5 inches clean around the edge. Arrange the apples on top of the almonds. I arranged them lying on their sides, slightly overlapping in two circles, one outside and one inside circle. You want to make sure that they are evenly spaced so they cook evenly. Sprinkle the remaining almonds on top of the apples.
Drizzle the juice of 1/2 lemon on top of the apples and brush with maple syrup.
Carefully fold the edge of the crust over the fruit to make the crust. Rotate the tart and crimp the dough over itself as needed. Repair any tears in the crust as they occur by pinching the tear together until it sticks. The heat from your fingers should repair any tears.
Brush the crust with melted butter.
Bake the tart in the lower 1/3 of the oven at 400 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, brushing the apples again with maple syrup when there is approximately 5 minutes of cooking time remaining. Remove the galette from the oven to cool when the crust begins to brown. After removing the galette from the oven, carefully place it on a cooling rack to prevent the bottom from getting soggy. When cooled, enjoy!