Fresh Apricot Galette
Our apricot tree has given us a bumper crop this year. My wife and I are most thankful for this bounty. She makes a killer jam with most of the fruit, and I bake her all-time favorite apricot pastry, a galette. A galette, a flat, thin, free-form rustic French tart. The hallmarks of this French classic are a crisp and flaky pastry supporting a thin layer of perfectly cooked fresh fruit. Besides apricots, you can make great galettes with peaches, nectarines, plums, apples and other in-season fruits. I don’t use white peaches because I find them too sweet and too juicy.
The key to a great galette is to make sure that the fruit juices thicken up during baking so that the pastry stays crisp. To do that, I spread a thin layer of ground nuts, flour, and cinnamon onto the rolled out dough and then layer on the fruit. As the galette bakes, the fruit juices sink into the flour and nuts and bubble and thicken to a perfect syrupy consistency.
The homeyness of the galette comes from its free-form nature. There’s no shaping or prebaking a tart shell. Once the fruit is arranged on the dough you simply bring up the ragged, uneven exposed edges of pastry over the fruit and press gently so the two adhere. Then brush the pastry edge with water and sprinkle on some sugar. As the galette bakes, the sugar caramelizes giving the pastry sweetness and crunch.
Galettes are best when very fresh. Serve as is. They don’t need a thing. Happy Baking!
Fresh Apricot Galette
- 14-inch rimmed pizza pan
- Baking stone (optional, but preferred)
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter (4 ounces)
- 3 tablespoons ice water plus more, if needed
Ground Almond Base
- 1/4 cup almond meal or 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 pounds ripe but slightly firm apricots
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into bits
- 7 tablespoons sugar
To Make the Pastry
- Either weigh the flour (by far the most accurate method) or measure it by dipping a dry measuring cup into the flour container, filling it to overflowing, and sweeping off the excess with a straight edge.
- Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Slice the cold butter into 8 equal pieces and add to the bowl.
- Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into smaller pieces, about ½ inch or so. Then reach into the bowl and, with your fingertips, rapidly press and flatten the butter pieces into flakes. Work quickly so the butter doesn’t soften and don’t be concerned about flattening every piece of butter.
- Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and stir and toss with a fork to combine. Stir just until the dough comes together in one mass. If the dough seems dry, add only enough additional water to make it cohere.
- Shape the dough into a ¾-inch-thick disc—you’ll see large flakes of butter in the dough—and enclose with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm the dough.
To Make the Ground almond Base
- Process the almonds, flour, salt, and cinnamon with a food processor for a few seconds until the nuts are finely ground. If using almond meal, just whisk in a small bowl with the flour, salt, and cinnamon.
Getting Ready to Bake
- If you have a baking stone, set it on the center shelf of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you don’t have a baking stone, just preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the center position.
Shaping the Galette
- Roll the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface into a very thin, roughly shaped circle, 14 inches in diameter. If the dough is very firm, let it sit at room temperature about 10 minutes or tap the pastry gently all over with the rolling pin to flatten it a bit, then roll it out. Use even strokes, working from the center of the dough out towards the edges.
- You may not think the dough will be able to become 14 inches in diameter, but it will. (If the dough feels too soft, fold it in half, transfer it to the pizza pan or rimmed baking sheet, unfold it, and refrigerate a few minutes.)
- Do not be concerned about rough edges of dough or if your circle is not perfect. This is rustic. What’s important is that the dough is thin, thin, thin. The butter flakes melt during baking and the pockets of air that are formed make the pastry flaky.
- Transfer the dough to the pizza pan or rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the ground almonds and flour onto the center of the dough and distribute with your fingers into a thin powdery circle about 11-inches in diameter.
- Begin arranging the apricots on the ground almonds and flour.
- Arrange the apricot halves in concentric circles on the nut layer. I make three or four circles, beginning with the outermost. If you have smaller fruit, arrange them in one or two more circles than suggested.
- Scatter the cold butter bits over the fruit, and sprinkle evenly with 6 tablespoons of the sugar.
- Bring up edges of the pastry to cover the outer edge of apricots and press gently to adhere. Brush the pastry edge with water and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
- Put the galette into the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or maybe even longer, until the apricot juices bubble thickly, like a syrup, and the fruit and pastry are well-browned with random darker spots. The sugar must be well caramelized.
- Cool the galette on its pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer with a wide metal spatula to a wire cooling rack. Sometimes juices leak onto the pan during baking causing the galette to stick, so loosen the galette carefully to avoid tearing the pastry.
- Apricot galette is best when very fresh. Serve it plain. It needs nothing extra.
- Note: I’ve successfully reheated leftover galette the next morning in a preheated 400 degree oven for 5 minutes.