In your culinary workshop, a galette is a power tool. And pastry power tools come in handy when delicious local fruit is in season.
Wikipedia calls the galette a “freeform” pastry, and last summer the New York Times featured an article called “The Galette Forgives You.” If these give you the idea that galettes are less demanding than pies or tarts, you’re on the right track. There’s no lattice-work, no cutting off the pie crust and pinching the edges between your fingers. Sometimes you want to lose track of time in such artistry. But then again, the time when the tastiest fruit is in season is also the busy season of sports practice and day-hikes and planned get-togethers, so it’s a good time for worthwhile shortcuts.
And this is a short-cut that doesn’t shortchange any flavors or buttery flakiness. As my husband put it, “Galette: the best a man can get.” (Riffing on a certain razor brand’s slogan, of course.)
To make a galette, you roll out the dough so that it will more than cover the pie pan. You then take this extra dough and fold it over the pie filling, brush it with butter if you like, and there you have your no-fuss, rustic galette. It also solves one other Problem of the Pie: it doesn’t easily overflow and drip onto the bottom of your oven! True galettes are not even baked in a pie pan at all, but on a cookie sheet. My version does use a pie plate, which makes things even easier. If you want to bake without it, just line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
I first discovered the galette a few summers ago when I was harvesting heirloom tomatoes from my backyard and turned to the cookbook Simply in Season to find a worthy use for them. I discovered a plum tomato pie that is really a galette because it uses a freeform crust.
This year, I decided to use the same crust but change up the other ingredients. How would a peach-blueberry galette with cream cheese in a cheddar crust turn out? On a dough rolled not quite as thin as pie crust, I spread out a layer of cream cheese, topped it with peaches, blueberries and a sprinkling of sugar and melted butter, and wrapped it all up and stuck it in the oven to see how it turned out.
It turned out sweet, cheesy and juicy, with hints of cheesecake in the thick cream cheese layer at the bottom.
- 1½ cups flour
- 1 stick (minus 1 tablespoon) of butter
- ⅓ cup cheddar cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons water (or more as needed)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 4 peaches, peeled and sliced
- ½ pint blueberries
- Melted butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take the cream cheese out of the fridge to let it come to room temperature.
- Mix flour and butter with a fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Mix in cheddar cheese and salt. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. Form it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- When chilled, roll out the dough on a floured surface--forming a circle a few inches larger than the pie plate. Transfer the dough to the pie plate and spread the softened cream cheese on the bottom of the crust. Add blueberries and sliced peaches. Sprinkle sugar on top. Fold the edges of the crust over and brush with melted butter.
- Bake 30-45 minutes until the crust is golden brown.