The taste of my grandmother's love and the bewitching first month of fall, in one.
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On to today—and this recipe; to the long weekend, and the joys of October!
The last few days have been sparkling and hot, with star-streaked skies and cool nights that remind me of October in Missouri, where I spent my college years—and many a late summer visit to gather with my extended family on the front porch of my Grandma and Granddad Copeland’s house in Houston, MO.
It’s a place that’s deeply a part of me, but I hadn’t thought about Missouri in a bit until I started playing around with this galette (a riff on this galette by) a couple of weeks ago. When I dipped my fork in, as it emerged steaming hot from the oven — the flavors sent me straight to my grandmother Virginia’s kitchen.
Virginia Copeland was a woman before her time: dynamic, independent, resourceful, and generous. To wit: in 1930, she eloped with a devoted but poor Irish-American (who turned out to be a man of solid gold), without telling her folks. She taught school full-time, raised their six children (birthing them all at home), and left the family farm* over several summers in her early 50s to get her bachelor’s degree with her two youngest, including my dad, in tow.
She drove a car—fast—when many women only rode passenger, renovated the family home alongside my grandfather, and as my elder aunts often said, “If we came home from school and she wasn’t in the kitchen cooking, we knew she’d had another baby—it was the only time we ever saw her sitting down.”
*Yes, she returned. My grandparents were married until death, over 70 years. Inspiring. ♡
My grandmother also made the best cherry and plum cobblers in ten counties. She never measured anything (like many of your grandmothers), always ate dessert, sprinkled sugar in her orange juice, and lived to be ninety-five, citing the 82-line Thanatopsis' by William Cullen Bryant by memory until her very last days.
This galette is a memory of my grandmother, though she never made a galette to my knowledge. It’s made from the knobbly pears that grow on a little tree we planted out front when my daughter was young. I realized while eating it that this nubby, crumbly crust—with its bit of almond flour and tender texture—would make an equally delicious top to a plum and pear cobbler. Just reverse the recipe below: put the fruit in first (in a buttered 9 X 13 pan), and roll and layer the crust on top. Slash some slits in the top to let the steam out—preferably with the same trusty, well-worn wood-handling knife you use for everything—and bake. Serve with ice cream, as my grandmother always did.
It’s especially meaningful to bring you this recipe and memory today, the week of my aunt Dorothy’s (Virginia’s firstborn and my dad’s oldest sister) 92nd birthday.
Aunt Dorothy is all spunk and heart, just like my grandmother was. She keeps up on everyone’s goings-on from her Queenie chair in Memphis, where she lives. She pays us regular surprise calls and—like my grandmother—sends the best letters with newspaper clippings and notes from her view of the world. Aunt Dorothy taught me how to make my grandmother’s cobbler and her famed sausage gravy (which she served atop biscuits, of course), how to keep my mind and attitude right with love, prayer, and good food— and how important it is to stay connected to family even while stretching out into the world to explore and expand. Happy Birthday to our reigning family matriarch, a royal gem.
The galette recipe is below for all subscribers—in loving memory of my grandmother and honor of Aunt Dorothy. Enjoy your long weekend, and I hope this recipe conjures someone dear to you.
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PLUM and PEAR GALETTE
2 cups all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour*
1/4 cup almond flour
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into thin slices or cubes
1/4 cup ice water (strained), plus more if needed
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
*1 egg yolk* (for GF CRUST, ONLY)
6 pears (about 1 1/2 lbs), ripe but firm, peeled and sliced
2 to 3 large plums, ripe by firm, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small squares
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1. MAKE THE CRUST: Combine the flour, almond flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl or a food processor and whisk or pulse to combine. Add the butter and use your fingers to pinch the butter into the flour mixture, or pulse in the food processor to form pea-sized pieces. Squeeze the butter pieces between your thumb and fingers to coat the flour mixture (this will create a nice crumbly crust).
Sprinkle the (strained!) ice water* over the flour mixture and toss with a fork to blend. Make sure to gather all the dry crumbs from the bottom of the bowl and press and squeeze the dough together, adding a touch more water if needed.
*If making a gluten-free crust, add the yolk in here, beaten lightly with the water (gluten-free flour will soak up water more quickly, but avoid the temptation to over-add water, which will make your dough tough and sticky to work with).
2. Gather the dough together into a firm, cohesive mass and press into a flat disk; shape with your hands into a nice round, and wrap well. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour, and ideally more. (You can refrigerate for 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months).
3. Bring the dough to room temp to soften slightly, until the dough gives easily when pressed with the heel of your hand. Lightly flour a long piece of parchment paper, add the dough on top, lightly flour the dough, and top with more parchment (if you are an expert pie/galette baker, you might not need the second sheet).
4. Roll the dough into a circle roughly 16 to 18 inches in diameter, shifting the dough (and paper) regularly a quarter turn as you go to keep an even layer and a roughly round shape. Lift the parchment and transfer it to a baking sheet; refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
5. MAKE THE FILLING: Toss the pears and plums with the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Remove the top piece of parchment from the dough and sprinkle the center 2/3s of the round with the flour. Transfer the fruit into the dough, mounding slightly in the center (over the flour) and leaving 2 to 3 inches around the outside. Fold the dough all around to enclose the filling, leaving the center 2/3s uncovered. Overlap the dough and pinch as needed.
*If you’re using gluten-free flour, the dough will be crumbly. Feel free to use the edge of the parchment to help you fold it over the filling, and don’t worry if it cracks. Press it to seal—the important thing is that you don’t want the fruit or fruit juices to ooze out, but it’s OK if it’s rustic. It’s a galette; it should be!
6. Refrigerate the galette while you preheat the oven to 400°F, with a rack in the middle. When the oven is ready, brush the crust evenly with the beaten egg and sprinkle the sugar over the crust. Dot the filling with butter.
7. BAKE: Bake until the filling is oozy and bubbling and the crust is deep golden brown—about 55 to 65 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 20 minutes to let the juices thicken. Transfer to a serving plate, and slide out the paper or cut around it. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or cool completely and serve at room temperature.
STORE IT: If you have leftovers, this galette keeps at room temperature for 1 day. Refrigerate any leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 3 days, and reheat slightly in a low oven or microwave to take the chill off before serving.