Apple Galette with Apple Syrup

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I love Autumn. It’s the sigh after summer, when cozy sweaters are embraced like old friends, soup pots make frequent appearances atop the stove, and kitchens beckon us to bake so as to ward off the day’s chill. Apples explode on branches; trees droop with their weight, orchards full of elderly, stooping trees ready to be relieved of their burden, destined to be made into applesauce, pie, cider, galette. Our brother- and sister-in-law have a piece of land in Corralitos on which dozens of apple trees produce so much fruit that the ground around them is littered with apples; even the critters can’t keep up with the supply, so the whole place smells vaguely of apple cider vinegar. Whenever we visit them we try to remember to bring a big bag in which to stuff as many apples as we can carry; giant, freckled, pale green ones that are so sweet and crisp you can’t stop taking loud, crunchy bites; dusty red and green apples striped like little tigers; blushing, donut-shaped apples with thick, slightly bitter skin; all are a joy to eat and bake with. And each year Pat and Taz bring out their wooden cider press. Kids toss apples into the press while everyone trades off turning the giant crank, squeezing every last drop of sweet, cloudy juice out of the apples. The best reward for all the hard work is drinking a cup of that freshly-pressed cider.

When Pink Pearl apples arrive at the market, just as Fall is just hinting at its arrival, I jump at the opportunity to make two things: pink applesauce and this galette, because the bright coral-pink insides are absolutely stunning. It’s like they were made to be shown off and contrasted with other apples. If you can get your hands on some, I urge you to bake with them and enjoy that bright, bubbly-pink hue.

The apple syrup included in this recipe comes to me via The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak (a great book), though she originally got the recipe from Alice Waters. Making the syrup is not required, but it adds such a depth of apple flavor that it takes the galette to another level. The syrup recipe makes more than you’ll need for one galette; it will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks (I’m sure you could also successfully freeze it); it would also be fantastic on pancakes.

Apple Galette with Apple Syrup

makes 1 galette / serves 8-10

For the flaky pastry:*
2 tbsp (25g) brown sugar
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup (105g) boiling water
4 cups (500g) all-purpose flour
3 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
*This recipe makes enough for two galettes; freeze one disk for later or make two galettes and double the fruit mixture

for the galette:
4-6 apples of any variety
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
big pinch of fine sea salt
heavy cream, for brushing

for the sauce:
the peels and cores from the apples used in the galette
2 cups (500g) unfiltered apple juice
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1 tbsp apple or normal brandy (optional)

To make the pastry: Stir 2 tbsp brown sugar, 3/4 tsp fine sea salt, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 cup boiling water together in a measuring cup. Place in the freezer to chill (if you’re leaving it for longer than 30 minutes, set in the fridge instead).

Add 500g flour to a large bowl. Sprinkle half of the butter chunks (12 tbsp) over the flour. Flatten all of the chunks between your fingers and then rub the butter into the flour; grab handfuls and move your fingers like you’re sprinkling salt. Keep working the butter and flour together until you’re left with pea-sized chunks or flakes. Pour this butter-flour mixture onto a large, clean work surface. Spread it out in an even layer, then sprinkle with the rest of the butter chunks (another 12 tbsp). Toss together, then smear the butter chunks into the flour across the work surface—Nicole Rucker says “as if you were sliding a secret message across a table,” which is a fantastic description. Gather the mixture together in a heap again, then repeat the smearing technique until you’re left with large, thin flakes of butter mixed with shaggy flour. Gather the mixture into a heap once more, and make a well in the middle. Pour most of the chilled water-sugar mixture into the middle and fold it into the flour. Pour more liquid as needed to form a shaggy dough—you want to find the balance of working the dough as little as possible and therefore retain big flakes of butter, and working it enough that it will stick together when you roll it. If you need any more liquid, add 1 tbsp of ice water at a time just until your dough comes together.

Form the dough into two rough disks, wrap well in parchment paper or plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to two days. You can also store it, well wrapped, in the freezer, for a few months.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Peel and core the apples—save those for making the syrup! Whisk 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and a big pinch of fine sea salt together in a small bowl.

On a piece of parchment paper, roll one of the pastry disks into a 1/8 inch thick rough circle (save the other disk in the freezer for another galette, or make two now!). Lay your sliced apples out on the dough in whatever design you please, leaving a couple of inches of dough free on all sides. Reserve one tbsp of the sugar mixture, then sprinkle the rest evenly over the fruit. Fold the extra dough up on all sides. Brush the dough with a little heavy cream, then sprinkle the remaining tbsp sugar mixture over the coated dough.

Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375°F and bake for another 30 minutes. Cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Make the sauce while the galette bakes: add the apple peels and cores, 2 cups apple juice, and 1/2 cup sugar to a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, then strain the sauce, press the juice out of the apple bits and then discard those. Return the strained sauce to medium heat and reduce the sauce for another 15 minutes or so, until it has the consistency of thin syrup. Stir in the brandy, if using, then set the syrup aside until ready to eat the galette.

Serve slices of galette with a generous pour of apple syrup. This galette is especially good with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream as well. Enjoy!

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