This is the Apple Dessert I’ve Been Dreaming About.
I’ve been on a quest for a specific kind of apple galette or tart for years now. I was lucky enough to taste one in Paris several years ago that was the gold standard for my particular palate and I’ve been searching for that same taste and texture ever since.
I’ve tried all kinds of crusts and finally came up with the one I like. It’s made in the food processor, doesn’t require any chilling time, is all butter, and is very easy to roll out. You’ll see that I don’t add all the flour initially. By holding back a little of the flour and adding it after the other is fully blended, I end up with a flakier crust.
So, now it was a matter of getting the apples right. I’ve tried adding raw sliced apples, cooked apples, etc., and even though I’ve come close, I still hadn’t nailed it. The kind of dessert I wanted was powerful with pure apple flavor and I wanted the apples to be fully cooked, but still retain their structural integrity.
I happened upon a type of apple called Opal and decided to give it a shot. They’re crisp, juicy, and sweet, not tart like a Granny Smith, but with a nice balance between sweetness and tartness. One thing that was surprising is they don’t turn brown after slicing. Mine sat out for about a half hour before I cooked them and they were just as beautifully white as they were when I initially sliced them.
From past experience, I knew I wanted the apples cooked before they went into the galette. This serves to concentrate their flavor, and allows me to control the amount of liquid, but I didn’t want them to turn into applesauce. I cooked them in some butter, sugar, and lemon juice until they were almost fully tender and only a little syrup remained in the pot. Then for good measure I added 2 tablespoons of Calvados (apple brandy) and cooked them for another minute or two. All they needed was a pinch of salt and they were good to go.
This recipe makes a big galette, so I made sure I used enough apples to fill it up nicely. After folding in the edges of the crust, I placed it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. I’m not a fan of egg washes on most of my galette and/or pie crusts because I think they give you a false sense of when it’s fully baked. The egg wash takes on a golden color way before the crust is done and I don’t care how good the filling is, if the crust isn’t fully baked, I consider it a fail. Flavor doesn’t develop until the crust is browned and fully crisp all the way through. I also like the mouthfeel of a crust without the egg wash. It’s more crisp.
I have no objection to letting a crust bake until it’s really dark in some places. That’s when it’s at its best. So, I opt for spraying the crust with plain water and sprinkling on finishing sugar. This way you have a clear view of how well the pastry has baked. It’s now good to go straight into the oven. I was really keeping my fingers crossed for this one. I wanted the tips of the apples to get dark and caramelize and that’s exactly what I got. At the last minute I decided to try something new. As soon as it came out of the oven, I sprinkled on 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar and hit it with my little kitchen torch until the sugar had bubbled and mostly melted. It hardened up into a caramel/crème brûlée type of topping.
Well, as I’m sure you’ve surmised by now, I am thrilled with the result, or else I wouldn’t have posted it. This is the apple galette I’ve been searching for. There’s no competition for all that apple flavor. It is first and foremost apple centric. The texture of the apples is exactly as I had hoped – fully tender, but each slice of apple still holds its shape. That buttery crust is flaky and tender. I finally found it. My ideal apple galette. And while a scoop of vanilla ice cream is never a bad thing, I think I prefer a slice all on its own.