I’m not sure why it took me so long to get the hang of galettes, but I suspect that overthinking had a lot to do with it. Sometime back in June, I finally made a galette that I was happy with, and since then I’ve been making it with different combinations of summer fruit and different ratios of whole grain and regular flour. This vegan spelt plum galette might just be my favorite so far.
For years I’ve read about how galette’s are “the lazy person’s pie,” especially lovable for their low-maintenance rolling and folding, etc. Except I just couldn’t get it right. The first time I tried making galette I filled the crust up before transferring it to a baking sheet, and I basically wrecked it when it came time to transfer. The next few times my proportion of filling to crust was always off (usually, there wasn’t enough crust to go around).
In fact, I seemed to do a lot better with pies, even complicated ones with lattice crusts. The best explanation I came up with is that I do well with rules and precision. Cooking processes that call upon intuition are usually the ones that take me the longest to figure out, which is why I’m still dawdling with sourdough bread-making: I know that instinct is a part of the process, and that it’ll challenge my weaknesses, or insecurities, as a cook.
Still, I’ve spent a lot of time this year getting more comfortable with the happy accidents that result from kitchen improvisation, and—more importantly—coming to terms with the fact that you only grow as a cook if you allow yourself to mess up. That’s the spirit that guided me as I made one more attempt at galettes this summer: I told myself that it was all just an experiment and it didn’t matter if it was a dud. After all, it wouldn’t be my first.
Needless to say, that’s when things came together. Past experience suggested that I needed to make more crust than I’d seen some recipes call for, so I did. I remembered how hard it is to move the galette once it’s stuffed and folded, so I transferred my dough to a lined baking sheet after rolling and then filled it up. Instead of fretting about areas where the crust was too thin or didn’t reach as far over the filling as in other parts, I just folded and let the imperfections be. Then I baked the galette until it was a deep golden brown, the way I like it, even though it meant leaving it in the oven longer than many recipes seem to suggest.
And in the end, I had a galette that I was pretty thrilled with.
I tend to follow a traditional recipe closely until I’ve got at least one or two finished products I’m happy with; after that, I know I can modify confidently. Because I’m often veganizing a non-vegan recipe to begin with, I find that this is the easiest way to make a recipe my own while also using it for solid guidance as I get my footing, so to speak. The first time I made the galette I used my own favorite vegan pie crust recipe, which is a modification of Martha Stewart’s pâte brisée recipe, and I halved it. I used all-purpose flour, but once I had a few good results, I started trading a third of the flour for whole wheat pastry flour.
Now I’m doing that with spelt flour instead, and I’m loving the slightly nutty flavor it adds. You can use all spelt, too, but if you do that I’d recommend using light spelt flour, or else your crust may be a bit dense and difficult to work with.
If you try the galette, you can most definitely use any fruit you love, keeping in mind that really juicy fruits (like berries) may demand a touch more flour in the filling (I found this to be especially true of strawberries). You can add spices of choice to the filling if you like; when I make this with apples in the fall, I’m sure I’ll add cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. You can make the dough ahead of time and freeze it for an easy, impromptu galette, and if you double the dough recipe, you’ll have enough for pie.
If you’re new to galettes or have had a hard time with them, the way I did, maybe follow this recipe closely for your first attempt. After that, though, you’ll probably have more delicious finished products if you take the time to make this whole process your own.
The galette is lovely the way it is; a friend of mine pointed out that part of its charm is that you can pick a slice up as if it were pizza. (Pie feels like a bigger and messier commitment.) If you’d like to, you can serve the galette with vanilla ice cream, even piling a scoop or two into the center of the galette before you cut and share it.
The galette will call upon your intuition at many points along the way, but once you try it a couple times, I think you’ll find, as I did, that it really is easy–and fun, too. And it’s especially easy if you make and chill the crust in advance.
There’s plenty of summer fruit ahead of us, and while it’s all ripe and juicy I hope you’ll get a chance—if you’re so inclined—to make and share this tasty vegan dessert. Let me know if you have any questions!