Tuesday, September 10, 2013

peach and black pepper galette

I like a galette because it breaks the pie rules.  There's no special dish, no crimping and pinching and sealing with a fork, no disaster if it slumps.

I took a pie class recently at my favorite bakery in Durham from the owner and darling of the pie world, Phoebe Lawless.  Phoebe shared several recipes with us and tons of tricks from thousands of pies' worth of practice.  I learned my crust was way too wet all this time.  And I wasn't refrigerating nearly long enough in advance.  But here's another small thing she said that blew my mind: 

"Black pepper is wonderful with peaches."

Is she serious?  Talk about rule breaking.  

I created a recipe to try it out and get lots more practice with my crust.  The black pepper kick with sweet juicy peaches really is wonderful.

For this filling, I mix slices of ripe peaches with sugar, black pepper, a pinch of salt, apple cider vinegar, and a splash of marsala wine.  If you're a peach purist, you can skip this step and also arrange the peach slices decoratively on the pie dough and sprinkle with sugar.  I like the extra flavor from preparing the filling with salt, vinegar, and pepper to bring out the fruit and balance the sweetness.

(Phoebe also shared this trick that you may already know from Smitten Kitchen.  To peel peaches, pop them in boiling water for 20 seconds or so, then straight into an ice bath.  If your peaches are ripe, the skins will literally slide right off.)

A galette showcases a golden flaky crust, so it does take some attention.  Be sure to refrigerate your crust well in advance so it will be sturdy and ready to work.

Following the expert suggestion of the James Beard Foundation, I also used a ground hazelnut mixture to add body and flavor to the base of the galette.  It was easy to do in a little kitchen chopper and added a nutty, satisfying sweetness.  I'll save you about 5 hours I spent in the grocery store looking for whole blanched hazelnuts:  I found them as "filberts" in Whole Foods and Fresh Market in the bulk section.  (These are also delicious chopped in salads with feta, asparagus, and orange, and of course in chocolate desserts, if you end up with too many.)

Take Phoebe's word for it.  You will really be surprised at the combination of spicy black pepper and sweet peaches.  Don't forget to sprinkle the crust with sugar before it bakes.  

This galette is impressive to guests and fun to make.  I think you will love it.