1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 oz. cold butter, cut in pieces
3 Tablespoons cold water, (possibly 4 Tablespoons)
You can follow just about any recipe for pate brisee- use a stand mixer, a food processor, or if you're the leisurely sort, (I'm not) by hand. Everything you've been told about cold butter, cold water, hot oven, is true. The object here is to combine the flour/salt/sugar first, then add the butter and mix or pulse until you have a crumbly mixture, with pieces of butter visible. Cold water is added last, just enough until the dough comes together. If it seems a little dry, add the last tablespoon of cold water. You don't want to over mix the dough into a pasty mess. You want to be able to gather it together, turn it out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a disc, wrap it and pop it into the fridge. I use the food processor, fitted with the metal blade. A few pulses of the flour/sugar/salt, then add the butter and pulse a few times to achieve the crumbly mixture state. Then armed with the cold water, with the machine running, pour the water through the feed tube and pulse it until the dough just comes together. Empty the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a disc, wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Clear out a shelf in the fridge that will accommodate a half sheet pan, or a large flat cookie sheet.
(revamped from Bon Appetit's Pear/Cardamom pie)
3-4 firm/ripe, not mushy/ripe pears (should equal about 4 ½ cups when peeled, cored and sliced)
zest of one lemon and 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
(optional but well worth it, seeds from half of a vanilla bean)
½ cup apricot jam
egg wash made with one egg yolk and a few tablespoons of milk or cream
sanding sugar or Sugar in the Raw or granulated sugar for sprinkling the edge
1/4 cup toasted, blanched almonds, if you're a nut person
Depending on the size, you will need 3-4 pears. I have used Bosc, Bartlett, Anjou with equal success. (The dessert will be as good as the fruit, so if the pears aren't ripe, you will end up with a galette that tastes like sweetened cucumbers.) Peel the pears, halve them, core them, and slice 1/4 inch thick. Place the pears in a large bowl and gently add the lemon juice to coat them. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, lemon zest, cornstarch, cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla bean seeds, if you are using them. Sprinkle the pears in the bowl with the sugar/spice mixture, turning them once or twice to coat, then set aside. By now, it should be just about time to roll out the dough.
I like to work on parchment paper- I can maneuver the dough and use minimal flour. Dust the parchment with flour and roll the chilled dough into a rough circle, about 1/4" thick and 12" round. Geometry was never my forte, so my measurements are like the circle, rough. I fill the galette on the very parchment I've rolled it on and then trim the excess paper after I place it securely on my baking sheet, just before going into the oven. You want to give the dough a bit of a border, so eyeball about two inches. Using a small offset spatula, spread a very thin layer of the apricot jam within your border, saving the rest for glazing the finished pastry. Place the pears within the border, casually lounging one upon each other, on top of the apricot jam. Now gather up the two inch border and fold it over the pears; this only covers a portion of the pears, holding things in place. Tuck/crimp the edge with your fingers. At this point, lift the edges of the parchment paper with the galette holding on for dear life, directly onto your baking sheet. I use a half sheet pan which measures 13" x 18"- a flat cookie sheet will also do the trick. Place the galette on the pan into the fridge to chill up for about 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. After the galette has chilled, brush the edge of the pastry with egg wash, sprinkle liberally with sanding or raw sugar, trim the parchment paper if it overhangs your baking sheet, then pop it into the oven. Every oven is different, so you have to keep an eye on things. I start the galette in a 400 degree oven, set my timer for 20 minutes, and take a peek. I turn the oven down to 350 degrees, reset my timer for another 40 minutes, and check again. The pears should be tender and bubbling, the crust should be golden. Remove the galette from the oven and set the baking sheet on a cooling rack. Using a small pastry brush, lightly glaze the pears and the crust with the remaining apricot jam. If you are using the almonds, sprinkle them around the crust while the galette is still warm so they stick to the apricot glaze.