As I have mentioned before, I have put off attempting to make a decent pie pastry FOR YEARS!
Mostly, I wave it off as “why bother when I’m so good at making so many other things?”, because I’m a little megalomaniacal, but really it’s down to the fact that pastry is a bit intimidating – seriously EVERYONE has an opinion about what a good pastry should be, myself included, and the majority seems to believe that even store-bought is better than a mediocre homemade one – and the idea of “perfecting” a croûte seemed…well…boring.
For the last couple of years, I’ve been around as my BFF has casually whipped together a tart or two in her kitchen like it’s no big thang and I finally decided that I wanted to be able to do that. Or at least give being able to do that the old college try.
Dudes, did I ever procrastinate in putting it together yesterday. It came down to having the choice between doing dishes or putting the damned pastry together before I ran out of excuses. Obvs, the pastry won.
For my first proper go at pastry, I decided to make a veg galette, which I thought would be very forgiving since they’re so rustic and, therefore, non-fussy. It wasn’t until after I had made the dough and began sussing out the technicalities of execution that I began to sweat a little under ye olde second-guessings.
I didn’t even know how much dough to use to do what I envisioned, which was not at all tossing some dough and filling into a lovely, normal-sized pie plate and letting it do its thing. No, no. I was making a quasi-free-form monster in a 10″ skillet. Then I had to math and math is h-a-r-d hard. Especially on a Sunday afternoon. After a quick scrum with Megs, we decided that approximately half of the dough would do. Bless my friends who enable my laissez-faire, devil-may-care attitude toward cooking.
Because I’m me, I didn’t think the clear a spot on the counter so I could have a place close by to set the pan I would be using for the galette once I’d rolled the dough out.
Imagine, if you will, graceful and light-footed ol’ me leaping across the kitchen to make the 10 feet or so between rolling surface and pan in a single bound with a rather delicate sheet of rolled-out pastry dough in my hands.
I was like a gazelle. I swear it. Perhaps a pregnant gazelle, but whatevs.
About halfway through cooking I remembered that I could have folded that fucker and walked normally across the kitchen like a gent and scholar.
After I got the dough nicely placed in my well-greased skillet, I had a little freak out about the foldy-over bits that make a galette a galette. Would they burn? We’re they too thick to cook through? What about the bottom? Will I get golden on top and burnt on the bottom?
I had to remind myself that I researched all of this shit beforehand and it comes from centuries of pie-making knowledge and even if I screwed it up six ways from Sunday I could still order pizza.
But it turned out beautifully! The filling was fully hot and cooked through, the pastry was golden brown and light and flakey on top (EVEN THE FOLDY-OVER BITS) and bottom. I am dead-chuffed with the results.
Lookit this and tell me it is not a thing of beauty:
I shan’t share the pastry recipe as it isn’t mine to share and you lot are probably already pastry pros and have your tried and true recipes, but I will share how to make this deliciously cheesy and vegetabley galette.
What you need:
- Enough of your favourite pastry dough to make a covered pie
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 lb spinach (mature, please), roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups of ricotta cheese
- 2 loosely-packed cups of grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- A pinch of nutmeg
- 2 tbsp dried basil (or a 1/4 cup fresh, finely chopped or chiffonaded)
- Pepper to taste
- 3 medium-sized tomatoes (romas are great!), in 1/4″ slices
What you do:
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat.
- Add the onion and let it sweat.
- Once the onion is translucent, add the spinach and bit at a time (because it probably won’t fit allatonce) and stir constantly until wilted.
- Transfer the spinach and onions to a paper towel-lined colander to drain and cool.
- In a large bowl, mix the cheeses, nutmeg, basil, egg and pepper.
- Once the spinach and onion mixture has cooled to lukewarm, add it to the cheese mixture.
- Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 375.
- Grease a cookie sheet or skillet (the cookie sheet method is very free-form, but easier to check for even browning – the skillet method ensures things hold together well, but you’re flying by seat of your pants when it comes to bottom browning).
- Roll your dough out into one big, roughly circle-shaped sheet.
- Fold the dough in quarters and place on/in the pan and unfold out to a circle again.
- Fill the centre with the cheese and veg mixture, leaving at least a 2″ overhang of dough. If using a skillet, the overhang you have is what you get.
- Top the filling with tomato slices.
- Fold the dough overhang over the top of the galette and bake for 45 minutes.
- Kill the heat to the oven and let coast for at least 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes before serving.
Cook’s notes: Please experiment with filling options! If you google “galette” you’ll find a gazillion different recipes running the gamut from sweet to savoury and everything in between. A galette is basically just a gorgeously rustic-looking pie, after all. I like the soft cheese + hard(er) cheese + veg + fresh veg topping formula because it really takes in the single egg, helping it get rid of some of the moisture and the veg on top protects the cheese from over-browning. Keeping in mind what’s in season always helps in experimentation, but the world is your oyster and you can bet yer big bippy that I’ll be posting variations on this recipe now that I’m feeling a lot more confident about making pastry.