Sunday, October 9

A Rustic Apple Galette with Sage Honey

Autumn is truly my favorite time of year.  The thick, Southern wall of heat some call air, has gone and left us breathing for the first time in months.  I suppose I could blame my absence around here on the traveling or the visitors.  Then again, it could've been the ice cold beer that didn't leave my hand, which consequently makes it difficult to type, but does a great job soothing the heart of a homeowner who is temporarily kitchen-less.  With the arrival of Fall however, I find myself coming home to a slower pace of life, and being a self-proclaimed homebody, I'm loving every minute of it.

On a side note, you'll be happy to hear we've sewn our DIY oats.  I wasn't sure if I'd ever cook again during our kitchen remodel, but thanks to my husband's mad carpentry skills, we're back in business.  I'll apologize now for not posting pics, but it's a bit like showing someone the rough draft of a manuscript; there are still many revisions to make and I'd feel naked showing it to you just yet.  Soon though, I promise.     

Besides the fact that I have my glorious kitchen back, there's something exceptionally delicious about this time of year.  I've had my windows open day and night- which I've been told is purely a Californian thing to do.  What's better than snuggling beneath your cozy blankets while a crisp breeze fills your bedroom, leaving just your nose cold?  Maybe only the stacks of books piling up all over the house, fuzzy slippers and cinnamon & spice-scented-everything.       

After a three-month long hiatus, I'm feeling a pull towards the kitchen once again.  It's usually something warm and hearty that I'm craving this time of year, and I haven't been able to get this Apple Tart out of my head.   After a few rough stints with unreliable recipes online, I turned to one of my favorite books "The Art of Simple Food" by the glorious Alice Waters.  I found a recipe for an Apple Galette with a buttery, flaky, crust.  Alice re-established my faith in baking with her simple instructions and hopefully she'll give you the confidence too, to make the most heavenly pastry on earth.    

One of the reasons I love Alice Waters so much is that she believes good food comes from the best of ingredients -in all of their simplicity.  I try to abide by this as much as possible, and every time it pays off.  With just a few ingredients in this recipe, I wanted to use the best I could find.  I picked up some apples from the Delvin's and I don't think I've ever tasted anything so divine.  I swear there were hints of ginger and cinnamon lingering on my tongue.  Do you remember the dinner in the their baby orchard last fall?  Aside from the unparalleled taste, it also feels really good to support a local family that works hard to bring us honest food.
I've also been dying to use the divine Sage Honey from the Jalama Road Family Farmstand that we picked up on our last trip home to Santa Barbara.  I was so excited, I grabbed two giant bottles and even risked my luggage to get these suckers home.  I can assure you, every drop was worth it.  

I slightly altered this recipe by creating my own apple filling.  I wanted softer apples with hints of cinnamon, vanilla and thyme.  If you prefer to use the original recipe, just slice the apples, layer in concentric circles and sprinkle with two tablespoons of sugar.

Rustic Apple Galette with Sage Honey
8 servings

Ingredients for Tart Dough:
1/4 cup icy cold water
6 tablespoons cold butter, sliced in 1/4 inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour 

Ingredients for Filling: 
5-6 medium size apples (try to find local varieties that are crisp and sweet)
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions for Tart Dough:
*The trick here is to work very quickly without overworking the dough.  Leaving chunks of butter in the dough will steam it while it's baking, making for a super-flaky crust.  Use your fingertips, and not the palms of your hands.  

In a medium sized bowl, mix together salt and flour.  Work chunks of cold butter into flour with fingertips for 1-2 minutes. 

Start pouring a small amount of water into dough, tossing with a fork until it clumps.  Use only 3/4 of recommended amount; the amount you need will depend on the flour you're using.  Grab a small amount in hand and squeeze; if it holds together without crumbling, it doesn't need more water.  

When the dough is the right consistency, bring it into a shaggy ball, working only with fingertips.  Place in plastic bag.  Flatten into disk with hand.  Pinch any edges that crack. (this makes it easier to roll out later.)  Place in fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375.  

Instructions for Apple Filling:
Slice apples to desired thickness -I like them medium-thin.
Add apples, flour and spices to medium sized pan and place over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Rolling out Dough:
Remove dough from fridge.  Flatten firmly again with hands, pinching off any cracks that form.  Place onto floured surface and begin rolling from center, clockwise.  Roll it a little less than 1/8 inch thick and brush off excess flour with brush or towel.  To move dough, fold in half, and then in quarters.  Place onto parchment-lined circular sheet -like a pizza pan.  Place pan in fridge to firm up dough, about 10 minutes.  

Pull dough out of fridge, and begin layering apples in overlapping concentric circles, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border.  Fold the dough border over the apples.  

With a pastry brush, generously spread 3 tablespoons melted butter on dough border, lightly patting apples with the remainder.  If desired, sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over crust.  

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.  Let cool slightly before slicing.     

I served this alongside plain Greek yogurt drizzled in more of that fabulous honey.  Holy mother!   

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