Baked Sunday Mornings: Brown Butter Apple Cranberry Galette

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Oh my, this is one pretty pie. I mean, galette— we’re getting a little fancy for Thanksgiving at Baked Sunday Mornings this week. Though actually, I guess it just *feels* fancy because galettes are of French pastry origin. Really, a galette is quite rustic with its wild and crazy free-form shaping. I love baking lots of different things, but pie dough has never been my forté. I don’t seem to have much natural inclination for doughs, and even though I’ve made a decent number of dough-based pastries, pie dough always makes me nervous. Also, I utterly dread that whole “roll out the dough into a circle” thing (or rectangle, or square, or whatever) because I can never seem to produce a neat and tidy shape. Therefore, when I do make pies, my crust is ragged, uneven, and generally unsightly… which does not generally yield the most elegant-looking pie. That’s where this Brown Butter Apple Cranberry Galette from Baked Occasions wins in my book!

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First of all, I love the intro to this recipe that talks about good intentions for a beautiful Thanksgiving table. I can so relate to this domestic wishful thinking! Every year I have visions of using my loveliest serving dishes, the tiny glass pumpkin candleholders, the pumpkin-shaped salt and pepper shakers, and my sparkly tablecloth, but the times I can count when this has actually happened are precisely… zero. Instead, I’m rushed and stressed and agitated because the crumbs on the mac and cheese aren’t browning. Dinner barely gets on the table (probably scrapped the veggie side dish) and I definitely didn’t change into nice clothes or do my makeup. My husband swears this could all be avoided by making less food, but LET’S NOT GET CRAZY.

Anyway, this galette represents the perfectly imperfect Thanksgiving feast. Despite not having that beautifully crimped crust or stunning lattice top, it is truly gorgeous in its own right. I quite like the rustic look with its asymmetrically folded crust and exposed fruit– the sparkling cranberries on top look like crimson jewels. Furthermore, with a free-form crust, there are no “shrinkage” issues in the pie dish, one of my most frequent pie dough woes.

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The dough is very easy to make and work with. It follows the traditional pie dough method of cutting cold butter and shortening into the dry ingredients (flour, cake flour, sugar, salt) in the food processor, and moistening the mixture with ice water. You do want some visible butter chunks because that’s what produces a flaky baked crust. This dough must be very resilient– I thought I might have processed the butter down too small or kneaded it too aggressively, but my clumsiness still gave way to a light, flaky crust.

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While the dough chills in the fridge (I left mine for a couple of days actually), you’ll peel and slice the Granny Smith apples– I love their tartness. Combine them with the cranberries, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt; it will form a “goo” that coats the fruit.

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Then the real fun begins– get ready for your kitchen to smell incredible! You’ll brown the butter, which I took to a pretty dark shade. There is nothing like that warm, toasty, nutty aroma filling your house, especially around the holidays. Let it cool a bit, then you’ll add most of it to the apple/cranberry mixture. (While the fruit sat waiting to be arranged on the crust, the butter got a little clumpy, but no harm was done once the galette was baked.)

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Once your dough is adequately chilled, you’ll roll it out to a rectangle or circle (if you can characterize it as such, per my inability to roll shapes as discussed above) and chill it again briefly.

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I think this next step is very clever. You know how fruit pies often suffer from watery fillings? For this galette, we are instructed to spread breadcrumbs (I used panko) over the dough to soak up any excess liquid. Brilliant, people.

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Then it’s time to arrange your fruit. Here’s where you can go nuts with whatever pattern you want. I sliced my apples very thinly and had tons of slivers left over, even after making about 2 ½ layers of concentric circles (3 apples are probably enough). In re-examining the photo in the book, it looks like my apple slices were much thinner than theirs, and they therefore resemble feathers because they crisped up slightly in the oven! The cranberries in the center really are the icing, if you will– gorgeous.

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There should be a 2″ naked dough border around the breadcrumbs and fruit, which you’ll then fold up gently onto to the filling, ragged edges and all. (I did my best to make it symmetrical because Baking OCD is a bitch, but it was all in vain…)  I put it in the fridge one more time because the dough had gotten a little soft by the time I placed all the apple slices.

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The final steps before baking are brushing the dough edges with that glorious brown butter and sprinkling the whole thing with sparkly sanding sugar. I love the look of the black butter flecks– I think it looks simultaneously more rustic and more sophisticated. (The paradox of the galette knows no bounds.)

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The galette baked up perfectly in 39 minutes with a beautiful, golden crust and nicely browned fruit. I was overjoyed! Take care as you lift up a corner of the galette to check the bottom– it’s a bit fragile while hot.

It was almost too pretty to eat… but you know that never really works as a deterrent. 😉 The crust was super tender and flaky. My husband said it was my best crust ever. I think it was all about the brown butter!  The apples were crisp-tender (perfect) and the cranberries lent just the right amount of tartness.

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We ate the pie with Steve’s Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream, which was super boozy on its own, but worked well with the pie. I liked it with Talenti Vanilla Bean Gelato even better the next night. I would consider adding any of the following to the fruit mixture, though it doesn’t actually need anything additional or different: vanilla seeds, Apple Jack brandy, citrus zest.

I generally err more on the side of chocolate desserts, but I have to say that this is one of my favorite fruit desserts in a long time. While I do enjoy pie like any other normal, rational human being, I often find it overly filling, so it’s not something I make or order at restaurants all that much. However, this galette is a great compromise. Like the Torta Sbriciolata alle Mele (Italian Crumb Cake with Apples) that I posted last week, this is a lighter alternative to the traditional deep-dish version. In other words, you needn’t feel guilty about eating several desserts at Thanksgiving, because really this is, like, 80% fruit. Maybe even 85%. 😉

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Both for its beauty and deliciousness, you will want this rustic tart on your holiday table. Visit Baked Sunday Mornings for the Brown Butter Apple Cranberry Galette recipe. With all the recent tragedies in the world, I am especially grateful this season for my loved ones, our safety, a bountiful feast, and of course, pie. I hope you, too, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2015.

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6 Responses

  1. Dafna, your photos are stunning! I totally agree with you on rolling out pie dough – I can never do it evenly and always have random parts sticking out and can never get it in the measurements is supposed to be in. Thus the beauty of the galette! I’m excited to eat a generous slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream tonight!

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