Welcome to the countdown-to-Thanksgiving pie clinic! We're a week away, so we have plenty of time to get comfortable with pie pastry and think about some options for our holiday pies.
I've covered basic pie pastry in an earlier post, so what I'd like to address here is a little different. If you're planning to make a number of pies but have only a few pie plates, this is the post for you. Here, I'll go over the basics of the galette (or crostata), a terrific way to simplify the pie-making process.
The galette is basically a free-form pie or tart, made on a baking sheet instead of in a pie plate. The effect is rustic and unfussy, with plenty of charm. You can simply pile your fruit in an untidy, wanton heap in the center of your pastry, or you can take pains to pretty up your galette by arranging your fruit slices in careful concentric rings, forming an eye-catching spiral that belies its simplicity. Either way, the end result is going to be beautiful.
Here, I've used pears and ginger, with a pecan streusel. Feel free to exchange the pears for apples, peaches, or plums; omit the streusel if you desire; or add cranberries, raspberries, or raisins. Once you master the technique of pleating the pastry crust, you'll have a wonderful pastry option at your disposal any time you need to put together a quick dessert.
For tips on how to achieve success with this and other, similar pastry, scroll down to the "Recipe Notes" section.
Pear-Ginger Galette with Pecan Streusel
- 1 single-crust pastry
- 1/4 cup graham-cracker crumbs
- 6 cups peeled, cored, sliced pears
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 11/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger (approx. .5 oz)
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Turbinado sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out pastry in a circle about 1/8th inch thick. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and spread 1/4 cup graham-cracker crumbs in middle of pastry, leaving a 2-inch margin. Set aside in refrigerator or freezer.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, salt, flour, cinnamon, and lemon zest. Set aside. In another small mixing bowl or cup, combine ginger and lemon juice. Place pear slices in a large mixing bowl. Pour lemon-ginger mixture over and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with cinnamon mixture and toss again.
- Make streusel: combine flour, sugars, and cinnamon. Cut in butter using a pastry blender. Add minced ginger and pecans; toss.
- Mound pear slices in the center of the pastry, going to the edge of the graham-cracker crumbs. Fold up the edge of pastry, crimping and folding as you go, until you've made a complete circuit around the mound of pears and the entire margin is folded over the filling.
- Sprinkle the Ginger-Pecan Streusel in the center, covering the pears. Lightly brush the crust with cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Place galette in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes at 400, then turn oven down to 375 degrees F and continue baking until crust is golden and crumb topping is nicely browned. If the top bakes faster than the crust, place a small square of foil over the center.
- Let cool completely on pan before removing to serving plate. Serve warm with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Ice Cream, if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.
- Although I like to use all butter in my pie crusts, for my galette and crostata doughs, I prefer to use a bit of shortening. Because these doughs don't have the structure of a pie plate to keep them in line, they have a tendency to spread out over the pan and lose their shape. This isn't necessarily a problem, just a cosmetic issue that is readily remedied by replacing a portion (say, a third) of the butter in your favorite pastry recipe with a good-quality shortening.
- If you roll out your dough between two pieces of plastic wrap, it's a piece of cake to transfer to your baking sheet. Just flip it over periodically during the rolling process to make sure both sides are uniform.
- You can make several batches of dough in advance. Roll it into a round, wrap it well in plastic wrap, label and date it, and toss it in the freezer. When you're ready to use it, just defrost and voila! Ready-to-bake pie pastry.
- Don't worry about breaking the butter down evenly into your flour mixture. In fact, you want there to be visible lumps of different sizes, ranging from lentils to green peas. In the oven, it's these lumps of butter that will melt down and create pockets of steam, which produce the flaky layers that comprise perfect pastry.