Here’s a striking and tasty way to celebrate summer and the berries, cherries and peaches that the season brings us: Mix and match this bounty and tuck the resulting combination into little personal galettes, then share them with your friends.
Often hailed as a “rustic” or “no-fuss” version of pie, galettes, with their casually pleated edges, have a reputation for being easier than fitting pie dough into a pan and crimping a crust. Although I agree (mostly) with this characterization, the galette technique is not without some nuance.
A galette requires engineering, a structure sturdy enough to hold back the flood of juicy filling, because without a pan to provide the form, the dough has to be pliable but not stretchy, so the architecture holds. For structure, flake and sheer beauty, I rely on one of the pillars of piemaking — Keep It Cold — at every step along the way.
Although a galette is sublime at the end of a meal, served to four or five friends, it doesn’t stretch to serve a large gathering. Turning to the engineering principles of a classic galette, I devised a recipe that makes a miniature version with plenty of fruity filling. Mini galettes are meant to be carried to backyard get-togethers, picnics in the park or hikes into the mountains.
Start with a pie dough recipe you trust, and chill the dough after making it. Work quickly to form the disks, and keep them chilled while making the filling. If the dough rolls out crumbly and cracked at the edges, it will be difficult to pleat; too wet and it will tear; too warm and it will unfold in the oven, creating galette-as-pizza. Cold dough is the key to a successful galette, as well as the secret to extra-flaky, extra-crispy crust.
Avoid rolling the dough too thin: A proper crust should have heft or it won’t be sturdy enough to hold back all the warm juices. A trickle of blueberry juice flowing from a little galette is a delight. A flood of fruity syrup all over the baking sheet? Not so much. Freezing the little pies before baking helps the structure hold shape.
Because a mini galette is meant to be eaten out of hand, cut larger fruit into bite-size pieces, which will also avoid lumpy edges. Once the sugar is stirred into the fruit, the filling will get saucy, so mix it only after rolling out all the dough circles. (Once rolled, keep them refrigerated until ready to fill.) Then work quickly. A scattering of dry breadcrumbs across the base absorbs some moisture and reduces the potential for the dreaded soggy bottom. Form pleats with the dough to contain the fruit and pinch closed. Then freeze the galettes, until hard, before baking.
About that soggy bottom: The best way to counteract a doughy base is to bake the galettes on a hot surface. Slide a pizza stone or an inverted baking sheet into the oven while preheating. Then place the baking sheet with the mini galettes on top of this hot surface. The pies will cook from both the top and the bottom, and, when baked until the crusts are nutty-brown and the filling is bubbling, will transform to an easy-to-handle galette.
Although this may sound like a lot of fuss and bother, freezing prebaked galettes means you can make these pies in advance and bake them off as needed. In fact, frozen mini galettes will keep for months and can be baked straight from the freezer, making fancy dessert easily attainable when the mood strikes.