Or how not to feel left out this “autumn”
I follow over a 100+ blogs, and my reader is always bursting with updates at any given point of time. More than half of these are food-blogs, and sometimes I feel a sensory overload when I look at all the updates all at once. If you follow a lot of non-Indian bloggers right now, a look around blogosphere will leave you yearning for autumn. The colours have turned auburn, rusty and deeply earthy. The props are orange and brown, the food is warm and woody, bringing what little colour is possible, into the frame. If you are a blogger in the west, it is likely that you have tried at least one (if not more) recipe that features pumpkins, another with cinnamon, and this other thing that seems to be all the rage: chai-spiced things. It is also likely that you have, like everybody else, gone apple-picking!
None of this is common to us. And for me, this “autumn” has been like a visual showcase into the food-world of the west. In India we dramatically segue from summer to monsoon, with a little spot of warmth and normalcy before winter begins. There is no in-between. There is no fall, no streets laden with orange leaves, no windy gloomy days, no real time for seeking warmth in our food. But as I watched all of this alien beauty, the apples piqued my interest, the most. Because we get apples. It is familiar, tangible and within reach.
I’ve been determined to make something apple-y, and had bookmarked many a recipe from here and there. This exquisite Smitten-style tart seemed interesting, but I cannot deny I was a bit intimidated, and it will be a while before I try it. Then there was this skillet-cake, which I was very tempted to do in a cake pan. But on second thought it seemed a lot like the French apple cake I’ve already made before, except with the apples on top. I have also been thinking about making a pie sometime soon, so when I spotted this one I was tempted to give it a go. Further search led me to this pie. I always start off excited, but my excitement peters away when I see how much butter goes into these pie crusts, and I put if off for later.
About 2 weeks ago, thanks to Rox, I rediscovered this super fun blog and was reacquainted with the idea of the galette: a free-form, rustic open pie of sorts, which involves rolling out pastry dough, filling the centre with a stuffing of your choice (sweet or savoury) and folding the edges over to form a case, leaving the top open to crisp. This recipe for a tequila peach galette blew me away, despite the fact that we don’t get good quality peaches here, and I despise (I mean, loathe) tequila. Because when I saw it, my mind instantly replaced the peaches with apples, and the tequila with rum. A generous helping of cinnamon sugar, and quickly saw my apple pie dreams coming true.
Brief discussions with Chinmayie convinced me that some amount of the butter in the pie dough could be replaced by oil, and thats all the confidence I needed to begin to adapt this recipe.
What I used
1.4 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat + 0.5 cup maida)
40 gms butter cold and cubed
3 tablespoons olive oil (to soften and bind the dough)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon cold water
Filling: rummy apples
1.5 tablespoons rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 large apples
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cream/milk
How I made it
First things first: get the galette dough out of the way, so it can chill in the fridge for a good 30+ minutes before use. So I measured out the flour and added the cornstarch to it and mixed well.Next I cubed the cold butter, scattered it on the flour and using the backs of two forks, I quickly cut the butter into the flour. When it was crumbled, I used my hands (but very briefly) to evenly distribute the butter.I added the olive oil, one tablespoon at a time and crumbled the flour further till it looked like wet breadcrumbs.In a small bowl, I whisked up the egg, vinegar and water, and added it into the dough and began to incorporate. If you have a fancy mixer/food processor this should be very easy and quick. But using your hands is tricky, you don’t want to over-work the dough and melt the butter out with the warmth of your fingers. You want to deflty and quickly bring the dough together, without fussing too much about evenness.At this point, I used my hands to combine and bring the dough together, and squeezed it into a ball. Then I wrapped it in cling film and set it in the fridge to chill for half an hour.Meanwhile, I moved on to the filling. I began by slicing the apples thinly.Then, in a small bowl, I mixed up the rum, vanilla extract, lime juice and corn starch. Pouring this over the apples, I tossed them around gently so they were coated well.Over this, I sprinkled the powdered sugar and cinnamon and mixed well. Then I left it in the fridge to chill.When I was ready to make the galette, I pulled the dough out of the fridge. On a floured board, I rolled it out as thin as I could, but ensuring it was not so thin that it would break when transferring it to the baking tray.Then I began arranging the apples in the centre, neatly in a ring at first and then just piling it on as I went, leaving a 1 inch border around. When almost all the apples were done, I folded the edges over and enclosed the apples.Then I poured the milk + cream (I used doodh wala malai and whipped it up with a tablespoon of milk) mixture over the apples, letting it seep into the gaps and cracks. And I set the board in the freezer to chill for 15 more minutes, while I pre-heated my oven at 190 degrees C.
Then, I set the galette on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and stuck it in to bake for 45 minutes. 10 minutes in, I turned the heat down to 170 degrees C.
I turned the upper coil on for the last 5 minutes, to brown the tops a bit, but I might have overdone it just a tad. When done, I took it out and let it cool for half an hour before digging in. The crust was flaky and crisp, with a warm, cinnamon-y, stewey inside with mushy apples. The juice was so warm and bubbly, it leaked out and the aroma was heavenly. The cinnamon and sugar had browned the tops and added an interesting contrast in texture.Although it is getting cool here in Goa, it is not cool enough to be called Autumn. A couple of degrees lower, a crisp wind in the air, and a plate of warm galette would have been a lovely evening sweet-snack, preferably with a glass of Rum or Brandy to go!
Discovering the galette has opened up a whole new world for me, and I am now toying with the idea of a nice mince and onion filling, for a savoury version. Who’s in?