Last night there was an intense thunderstorm in Montreal. As I was heading to bed around 11 P.M., torrential rain started to pour down and lightning flashed, punctuated by thunder that sounded like angry drums. It was intense and intimidating, a show of force that we’re all living in this bigger, more powerful thing. Whether we were prepared or not, it was going to rain, and it was going to be a storm.
The last couple of weeks have felt like that storm. If felt like life was sweeping me up in swelling waters, the cool rush relieving after days of sweltering heat, yet powerful and perilous at the same time. I found myself at a major crossroad, conflicted and unsure of where to turn. I’m not the type to easily be still and carefully consider the options so instead, I went for runs. I cooked, making a huge batch of pesto. And I made a blueberry galette.
When life is uncertain, there is something deeply comforting about reasserting the things you know are certain. Like that my legs could usually carry me to the canal and beyond, with my heart beating fast as sweat pours down my face. Cooking has the same effect for me, where I can add butter and flour in specific proportions and it will come together as a flaky pâte brisée.
Simple and indulgent, this galette was the perfect thing to make. The dough is a basic pâte brisée accentuated with ground, toasted pecans for a deeper flavour and a subtle nuttiness. It grounds the filling of blueberries and lemon, exuberant and characteristic of the vivacity of summer. And being a galette, it’s a dough simply rolled out, with rough edges framing the filling. Imperfect and without pretension, it was the perfect dessert for a messier time in life.
If you’re new to making pies, galettes are a great way to start. It only requires one pie dough and much less fruit, making the time and monetary investment smaller if you’re unsure. Being a pâte brisée however, you do need to chill it to ensure the butter inside is very cold and to relax the gluten. If you’re short on time you may want to give Jacques Pépin’s quick summer fruit galette a try, which requires only a short 20-minute chill in the fridge.
Whatever the time in your life, this galette is worth a try. Served with whipped cream for dessert, tea, or heck, even breakfast, it is a testament of the simple pleasures that exist even in uncertain times.
Blueberry galette with pecan crust
- ½ c. pecans
- 1 c. all-purpose flour, plus 2 tbsp.
- 2 tsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ c. cold unsalted butter
- 2 c. blueberries
- 1½ tsp. lemon juice
- ¼ c. sugar
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 tbsp. milk
- 1-2 tbsp. turbinado sugar
Adapted from Rachael Coyle in Bon Appétit‘s July 2015 issue.
Preheat oven to 350°. Toast pecans on a baking sheet, turning them once in a while to ensure they do not burn. Toast them for about 5-10 minutes, or until fragrant and a darker in colour.
Meanwhile, cut up the butter into small cubes. If it’s hot in your kitchen, put the butter back into the fridge until ready to use – cold is key for this crust.
Let the pecans cool and then pulse in a food processor until it looks like “coarse meal,” or to my eye, looks like red quinoa. Be careful not to grind it to a butter though. Add the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon to the food processor, pulsing just until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles wet sand but it does not have to be uniform. A few pea-sized pieces will remain and that’s okay.
In a small bowl, add a couple ice cubes and about a ½ cup of water. You won’t need all the water.
Transfer the flour mixture from the food processor to a separate medium-sized bowl. Drizzle in 3 tbsp. of the ice water (careful not to get any cubes) and mix until the dough just comes together. Again, a few chunks of butter will be visible in the dough and that is actually what we want. Add more water if needed, a tbsp. at a time, up to 2 extra tbsp. Use your hands to gather the dough into a ball and flatten it into a 6″-diameter disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, toss together the blueberries, cornstarch, lemon juice, and sugar, making sure there are no large clumps of cornstarch left. If you’re using the rest of a lemon from something else, go ahead and zest the lemon too and add the zest – might as well use it up!
Take dough out of the fridge. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough into a 12″ round (I found mine was more crumbly than your regular pâte sucré dough. Don’t fret if it tears, just push the dough back together again until the crack disappears). Transfer the round onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Put the blueberry mixture into the middle of the dough and spread it out, leaving a 2″ border. Fold the edges of the dough over, making pleats as you go. Brush the dough with milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Put the galette into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the filling bubbles and the crust a dark golden brown. Let cool before serving with some whipped cream, yogurt, or ice cream.
I ran out of cinnamon (I know, how is that possible?!), and instead added about 1 tsp. lemon zest to the 2 tsp. sugar in the crust.
Instead of regular all-purpose flour, I imagine ¾ c. whole wheat pastry flour and ¼ c. + 2 tbsp. regular all-purpose flour could be nice and add to the nuttiness. If you’re in Quebec, go local and try La Milanaise’s whole wheat pastry flour, made with >75% organic wheat from Quebec.
If you don’t have lemon, I often sneak in orange juice without much problem.
Lastly, there’s only a couple of weeks left to Quebec’s berry season! Get whatever berries look good to you at the farmers market and you should be able to substitute them for the blueberries. Adjust the amount of sugar if using berries that are more tart.