Step outside into the brisk, autumn breeze of Door County. Put your arms in the air, and turn your body so the wind brushes your face and blows through your hair. Take a deep breath in; let the deep breath out. Then repeat.
This time of year beckons to me to slow my pace and embrace the change in the weather. One of my favorite things to do in the fall is drive the backroads. I try to get lost and take in the scenery as the trees and fields shift from greens to shades of gold, orange and red. I search for roadside stands and their end-of-season bounty: vegetables, pumpkins and apples.
This time of year is perfect for putting on your apron and your favorite music and spending some time in the kitchen. My go-to baked treat in the fall is something with apples. The aroma of baking apples commingled with a little butter and cinnamon is one of the very best.
Cortland and McIntosh apples are easily found here, and they’re perfect for baking. They were some of the first varieties introduced to Door County back when our ancestors discovered how perfectly the county’s climate and certain varieties of fruit trees accompanied one another, and honestly, the rest is history.
In recent years I’ve discovered the galette: a rustic French pastry that can be made sweet or savory. It’s a cousin to the pie, but it’s less complicated and just as beautiful and delicious.
I’ve traditionally made mine using a simple pie crust, but you can use a store-bought pie crust or puff pastry when you’re in a hurry. A galette takes less time than a pie to assemble and bake, and you can enjoy it for breakfast or dessert. Apple pie goes great with a slice of Cheddar cheese slightly melted over the top, and so does an apple galette. I also recommend pairing your galette with homemade whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.
When the wind starts blowing from the north and the trees give us their magnificent display of color, settle into your kitchen, preheat the oven and get baking. The galette is a beautiful, rustic pastry to share. Enjoy!
Crust 2½ cups flour 1 Tbsp salt Pinch of cinnamon 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces 6–8 Tbsp ice water Place the flour, salt and pinch of cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter, and pulse until the butter forms pea-sized balls in the flour. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time, pulsing in between. Once the ingredients start binding together, remove them from the bowl and finish mixing them by hand so that all of the ingredients form a ball of pastry dough. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight if possible, or a minimum of two hours. Remove the dough from the plastic wrap, and place it on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a circle until it’s approximately 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the parchment paper and dough to a baking sheet. Place the rolled-out dough back in the refrigerator to keep it cool while you prepare the apple filling.
Apple Filling 3–4 medium to large apples (Variety matters! Cortland, McIntosh and Granny Smith are great options for baking.) 3–4 Tbsp of sugar, preferably brown Juice of ½ lemon 1 tsp cinnamon Pinch of salt 1 egg white 1–2 tsp flour for dusting the fruit Turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw) for sprinkling over the galette Peel, core and slice the apples into 1/8-inch half-moons. Toss in a bowl with the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and pinch of salt. Toss until the apples are coated equally. Arrange the apples in the middle of the dough in a spiral pattern from the middle of the dough outward toward the edge. The apples can lean against each other like fallen dominos. Leave about two inches of dough around the edge of the apples. Fold the dough up over the edges of the fruit. You may have a bit of overlap of dough on dough to complete the circle, but that’s OK — this is a rustic pastry, so there’s no need for perfection here. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Whisk the egg white into an egg wash. Then, using a basting brush, paint the edges of the dough with the egg wash. Sprinkle the dough with the turbinado sugar. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Remove the galette from the oven halfway through the baking process to brush the exposed fruit with the galette glaze (recipe follows). This step is not absolutely necessary, but it adds a professional-looking gloss to the finished galette. Serve warm with your choice of Cheddar cheese, whipped cream or vanilla and/or cinnamon ice cream.
Galette Glaze 1 Tbsp peach or apricot jam 2 Tbsp hot water Whisk the jam and hot water together until it has a syrup consistency. Brush over the galette’s exposed fruit halfway through the baking process. Variations • Use half pears and half apples instead of all apples. • Add a handful of dried Door County cherries or other dried fruit to the apples. • This recipe is not very sweet because I like to allow the fruit to take center stage. If you want to add a little more sweetness, however, I recommend adding a drizzle of maple syrup over the individual pieces right before serving.