During my stopover in Seattle I had unbridled access to my mom’s savvy cooking insights and a lovely, full, working kitchen. I hadn’t had the pleasure of cooking in a kitchen that nice in a long time – disposal, dishwasher, ceramic bowls and an endless supply of clean wooden spoons. I felt like I’d clicked my heels and landed on a cooking show set. What made it even better is that the kitchen hadn’t changed. I knew where to find everything. Pots and pans hang from the ceiling rack – copper, stainless steel and cast iron; sharp knifes rest in the top drawer next to the fridge – serrated, butcher, pairing; and mixing bowls sit in the bottom drawer – nestled from large to small.
Now I’m in Oakland. Upon arrival, everything was new and unfamiliar. The kitchen was no exception. I started small with salads, and then a few days in, I ignited the stove for tea and sautéed veggies. Then yesterday I graduated to full-fledged baking. I turned on the oven for the first time and I made an apricot galette. The entire house smelled like butter and warm apricots…until Dan cooked salmon. But details. I divided it in three and sat around the kitchen table with my roommates. We ate our slices with our hands, pizza style.
Yesterday’s galette was not the first I’ve made this summer. It was the third, or third and a half, because the apricot peach tart I baked for Chris’s birthday kind of counts. I am a huge galette fan for a few reasons – they’re simultaneously elegant and rustic and they’re simple. You can use any stone fruit you like – plums, peaches, cherries, nectarines, apples, apricots. Sometimes I’ll scatter a handful of ripe berries on top if I have them. Apricots are my favorite. Something magical happens to an apricot when it bakes. As if a tiny oven fairy waves her sugar wand and they morph from softly scented to potently perfumed orangey golden gems.
My first galette of the summer was made entirely of cherries from the neighbor’s tree on La Ferme Belmont in France. The tips of my fingers were stained crimson from pitting, but it was worth it. I wish I’d taken a photo of the finished product. I forgot.
Then came the nectarine apricot blueberry galette that I baked for my parents and friends in Seattle.
Next was the apricot peach tart for Chris, which I served out of a box on Wady’s sailboat in Puget Sound.
And finally, yesterday’s apricot galette. I popped it in the oven and headed out to run a few errands on Piedmont Avenue. I lost track of time in the magazine shop down the street and ran the four blocks home with visions of charred apricots and smoke seeping through the oven door. Fortunately I arrived just in time. Channeling Betty Draper, I whisked through the door and slipped an oven mitt onto my right hand, removed the the hot tart from the oven, placed it on the counter and poured myself a glass of sparkling wine.
Adapted from Alice Waters and Chez Panisse
1 cup white flour
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup ice water
- In a bowl, mix the flour with the sugar and salt.
- Using a fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles very coarse meal.
- Drizzle the water over the dough and stir until moistened.
- Gather up the dough and knead it 2 or 3 times.
- Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
4 cups (about 8 medium-sized) ripe fragrant apricots, cut lengthwise in quarters
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
extra sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- On a floured surface, roll the galette dough as thin as possible into a big circle. It won’t look perfect and that’s just fine. Place the dough on an upside down pizza pan or a large cookie sheet. If using a cookie sheet, place something beneath it to allow the heat to circulate, a round cake pan or pizza stone works well.
- In a small bowl, mix sugar and flour, then spread mixture on the dough about two inches from the edge. This will sit under the apricots and thicken the juices.
- Arrange apricots over the dough however you like. I always try to make a nice, swirly spiral but my design vision clouds over at the midway point and I end up with something entirely unexpected.
- Lightly sprinkle apricots with sugar.
- Fold the edges of the dough up over the apricots. You can pleat them or gather them in. I tuck the frayed edges of the dough under so the crust appears a bit more even.
- Brush the folded-over edges of the dough with water and sprinkle with sugar so it’s thoroughly coated.
- Bake the galette in a 400 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, until the juices from the center are bubbly.
- Cool on a wire rack and serve.