Sunday, August 16, 2015
Perfect Peach Galette
This is a theoretically perfect peach galette. In practice, it hasn't quite reached perfection, but it's awfully good. "The Awfully Good Peach Galette" doesn't have the same come-hither sound as "The Perfect Peach Galette." No doubt I say this, or something similar, every time we bake pastry, but there are many, many things that can go wrong when baking a pie.
The first problem was that I didn't have cream. More accurately, I had cream, and I even had cream with a sell-by date in September. But I didn't have cream that I'd smelled until I was at the last step of mixing the pie dough. Then I smelled it. Then I thought, "this won't do." Then I remembered that Rose used to make her cream cheese pie crust with water instead of cream, so I decided that I would too. I got the water (ice-cold) out of the refrigerator, and mixed it in, along with the vinegar.
If anything, it was even easier to handle than the regular dough, so that wasn't really a problem. I made it last night, so it would be all ready to bring out of the refrigerator at the proper time. This makes me feel like I'm on a TV cooking show and can just reach in my refrigerator and get whatever I need since it's all prepared. Except my refrigerator looks quite a bit junkier than television refrigerators.
I was not having trouble, exactly, but the recipe kept throwing in phrases that troubled me deeply: words to the effect that if you're a super-expert pie maker, you can just roll this thin, the way it's supposed to be. You can even use a smaller amount of dough--if you know what you're doing. Unspoken was the possibility that if you didn't know what you were doing, you might run into difficulties.
I can see my problem looking at this rolled-out piece of pie crust. It's thinnest where it should be thickest, and vice versa. If I were to do this again, and I hope I'll do it many times because it's quite delicious, even when not perfect, I'd stop rolling out the middle section after I got it to be around 9 inches in diameter, and I'd only roll the edges out thinner. If I had done this, I would have had a pastry base that would be sturdy enough to lift out of the pan without making little whimpering noises, and the flap-over pieces would be paper thin. (Well, maybe not that thin, but thinner).
Not that I'm entirely dissatisfied with the way it turned out. But when it got to this stage, I was feeling pleased with myself. When I started to move it on the baking pan, however, I thought I was going to lose the whole thing. I went straight from the genteel whimpering noises to swearing like a sailor. Jim rushed in the kitchen (I'm never sure if he intends to help or if he just enjoys my pain. But he did offer to help). With a couple of spatulas, we nudged the delicate galette on the pan.
You can see that it looks more deflated and flattened out than it did before it made its trek from the counter to the pan. You'd think it had endured more than a six-inch move. I was very grateful that it didn't break.
When I look at this picture, I say to myself, for someone who was so worried that the whole galette was going to fall apart, you'd think you'd move it to a cutting board. You may be wondering the same thing. But my knife is sharp, and the trauma of moving it was greater than cutting it on the rack. I'm sure it was the wrong choice, but it seemed to work. At least it didn't fall apart.
I have no idea why I'm sounding so morose about this galette. It was more that I kept waiting for things to go amiss than that they actually did go amiss. The crust was flaky and tender; the peaches were perfectly done; the few drops of almond flavoring were just what were needed to intensify the peach flavors, and it was a perfect summer dessert on this hot, humid August day.
So here's my advice: enjoy this beautiful summer dessert, and don't fret if it's not 100% perfect. The "Awfully Good Peach Galette" may be as close to perfection as you need to get.