This Blackberry Galette with Hazelnut Frangipane taught me something. I love being in the kitchen with my hands in it up to my elbows.
The trouble is the kitchen has developed a reputation as thankless task-master. I recognize that not all kitchen chores are fun. I don’t like peeling garlic. Sometimes I have to look the other way when dealing with raw meat. I’d rather pay someone to clean my oven and no matter how hard I try and can’t keep the kitchen floor up to snuff.
But for every one of those tasks, there are two or three (or more) reasons why I love seeking refuge in the kitchen. This galette is proof.
It’s starts with the berries. Washing berries is a joy. They seem to relish it too. I’ve seen raspberries plump themselves proudly under running water. Blueberries roll around the bowl like a bunch of frolicking children on a playground. But blackberries are the best. When properly handled they take on a sheen and blush no fruit can match.
I love working with nuts too. I love the fragrance they take on when they’re toasting. I enjoy shaking them in the pan looking for that perfect moment of color. This recipe requires grinding the nuts which spreads that toasty fragrance all over the room. Once they are ground they’re mixed with sugar and butter and egg. When made with almonds this classic combination is called frangipane. It’s the sweet filling for traditional French apple or pear tarts and it’s what makes an almond croissant to addictive. I used hazelnuts in this version today. They have a distinct nutty taste and a certain sweetness that pairs well with the tart, shiny blackberries I washed.
But it’s the pastry in this recipe that brings me the greatest joy. Whether it’s used in pie, or in something more rustic and fundamental like this galette, I enjoy working with good pastry dough. However, I always fear that recipes make pie dough way too complicated. They often scare people off. Once you’ve made a few pies you won’t need a recipe. You’ll learn to recognize what makes dough work– because your climate, your kitchen, even your hands play a role in making great pie dough. You’ll learn that pastry is one of the kitchen’s simple pleasure.
Crisp, flaky and just salty enough. Creating a crust with “tooth” that melts instantly on your tongue is the key to any great pie (or galette). But differing opinions and confusing controversies abound. What combination or ratio is best? All-butter or all-shortening? Maybe lard is better? How about a 50-50 ratio of butter and shortening (or lard)? Then there’s the popular 70 percent butter to 30 percent shortening (or lard) version. Is that any good? Don’t get me started on solidified coconut oil. Well, I have tried them all. The all-butter crust remains my favorite for its rich, savory flavor. It has just 4 simple ingredients that are always on hand at my house. So in my opinion, this is the one to master.
But I’m not here to teach you to make pie dough. I just wanted to remind you that the kitchen can be a joyful place to work. I think this galette proves my point. GREG