Food You Can Eat: The Wonderful World of Galettes

The bells are ringing for me and my galette

Image via themodernproper.com. I've never made this recipe but it sure is pretty, isn't it?

If you have never heard of this term, rest assured that you have eaten a version of a galette, DBA “pizza.” I don’t know which came first, but a galette is much more forgiving. Endless wars do not erupt around crust thickness or whether the rim should be stuffed or not; there’s no such thing as a “deep dish” galette; there are no national chains and supermarkets selling galettes. No, you make your own, unless there is a bakery you can source them from.

Their other saving grace is that the sloppier the rim of your crust the more charming and rustic its appearance, and like crêpes they can be sweet or savory or sometimes both at once. There are so many recipes for them because they are so versatile. Here are galettes that I have known and made:

My First Galette: From Julia Child, Of Course

Shortly after my acquaintance Prometheus smuggled out his recipe for fire, I made this. This is basically a pizza margherita. Flour a surface and roll out your thawed premade dough (can be pizza or pastry dough, pizza’s better here) into the 12″ circle it was destined to be. It should be no more than 1/2″ thick. Put it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You have to be really careful though, with this and the galettes that follow. They are subject to tearing, so you might have to gently roll it around a rolling pin and gently unroll it onto the baking sheet.

Shred 1/4 pound of mozzarella and mix in a few chopped basil leaves. With your hand sprinkle this over the dough, Salt Bae-style if you have the dexterity for it, but leave a generous border, at least 2”. Then, slice Roma/plum tomatoes into 1/4” slices, you’ll need probably 3. Salt all of this.

Roll the border toward the center. It’ll start bunching up a little but this is part of its rustic charm. This is called “pleating.” Brush the rim with a little egg wash (one beaten egg).

Put this in the oven for anywhere from 30—45 minutes, until the cheese bubbles and the crust turns a nice golden brown. I know someone who likes a crust crisp to the point of burning so leave it in if you have someone like that in your life. Try not to let the cheese or the tomatoes blacken, though. 

This theoretically serves 6 but I think that’s that’s if it’s meant to be an appetizer. In any event, slice it into 1/6ths and on each slice put a couple of whole basil leaves.

A Pear and Chocolate Galette

I cannot praise this recipe more, but I have a caveat: it’s a little messy to eat, as I found out the first time I made one of these, so this might be best consumed en famille.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.  

Peel, core, and slice 3 ripe pears vertically (so stand them up) into 1/10ths. Put these in a bowl with 1/2 cup sugar, the juice of 1/2 half lemon, and a little cinnamon. Coat/combine.

Roll out a sheet of pastry dough into a 12” circle, maybe a little larger. Exceed the 1/2” thickness limit if you want (you should) because it will contain heavy fruit. Put it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Chop (do not grate) 4 oz. of baker’s chocolate and sprinkle that on the pastry dough, leaving a border of at least 1”, preferably a little more. Arrange the pear slices (don’t use its “marinade”) in slightly overlapping concentric circles, again being respectful of the border’s personal space. Now roll the dough to create a border, doing a little pleating as you go. Brush the border with one beaten egg and sprinkle some sugar over it all. Put it in the oven on a high rack for at least half an hour, more if necessary, until the crust goldens and browns. 

It will be very hot and need to set a bit, so take it out and let it cool down. Again, slice it into 1/6ths. To be honest, the next time I make this I think I will make it in a rectangular shape, because it’s weird to me to eat something in the shape of a pizza slice with a fork and knife, and I don’t care how they eat pizza in Europe. You can serve this with whipped cream and why would you not?

A Mushroom-Bacon Galette

This is absolutely sublime. It is from Dorie Greenspan’s Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook. Sadly, this is not Everyday Mattie, although I wish I had the motivation that it were so, because it’s a little complex.

Roll pizza or pastry dough into the 12” circle and put on a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

In a skillet, cook 4 slices of bacon until crispy. Move it to a paper towel, let it dry and cool, and dice. Leave a little grease in the skillet (1 tbsp.) but pour out most of it. 

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Dorie says put the rack in the center.

Into the skillet add 1 tbsp. olive oil and heat over medium. Add 1/4 lb. chopped mushrooms (cremini are among the ones recommended and that’s what I had), 1 clove finely chopped garlic (I used 2, because—just because) and 1 large sliced onion, dried. Instead of onion, you can use two split and thinly sliced leeks. Shake in some salt and pepper and stir while cooking for about 5 minutes until everything softens up. Add 3 tbsp. dry white wine but I bet a little vegetable broth would work here instead, because you are deglazing, stirring and scraping for 1—2 minutes.

Take it off the heat and stir in the bacon, 3 tbsp. chopped walnuts (yes! Surprise! But this is one of the things that makes this so great) 2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese (I used more) and a little chopped thyme, two sprigs. Add a little more pepper if you want.

Scrape the filling onto the dough leaving a 3” border. I’m not sure why so generous here but I ask no questions. Fold and pleat and put in the oven for 30—35 minutes until that crust is golden, which is what you always want in a galette, and the filling is good and hot. When it’s done, remove from the oven and sprinkle over more grated parmesan cheese. You can also drizzle a little olive oil, which I did. Let it cool 10 minutes or until room temperature. Slice into 1/6ths or just eat the whole thing yourself.

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11 Comments

  1. Author’s note: I meant to tighten up this post by consolidating what is common to all three (and thousands more) galette recipes:

    1. Roll out the thawed pastry or pizza dough to a 12″ circle.

    2. Leave a border.

    3. Add your contents to the center.

    4. “Pleat” the dough so you form a ring around the contents and this holds them in.

    5. Bake until the dough is at least golden brown and even crispier if you like that.

    6. Slice into 1/6 pieces.

    • I love galettes and flatbreads so much. I am hopeless at making bread and pizza dough and was experiencing a twinge of FOMO at the beginning of the pandemic, when suddenly everyone seemed to bake their own bread (well, no one I knew did, but that’s all I ever read about.)

      • I have several friends who were baking wizards with the bread in the pandemic.

        I live alone and have absolutely no self-control with bread/baked goods, so no matter what this would be a bad idea for my waistline if I started baking.

        Anyways, the only time I made pizza dough well at all was when I used to have a breadmaker that had a “pizza dough” setting where legit it was like — dump in flour, olive oil, salt, water, yeast and press the pizza dough button, come back in an hour.

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