The early days of autumn are always a delight. The gentle transition from late summer, the onset of crisp misty mornings, as the first leaves start to turn. I spend the weekend in the garden, clearing away the tomato plants and cumbers. Once fruit laden triffids that threatened to overwhelm my small courtyard, now limp shadows of their former selves. My modest herb garden needs some attention, the chives and mint are still going strong, but the marjarom has self seeded everywhere. Next year I have some grand plans to introduce more variety, but for now I concentrate on clearing away the weeds and a little pruning here and there.
In gardens and orchards elsewhere in the village, it is also harvest time and there are local plums and apples aplenty. Every year, my neighbour sets up his much anticipated apple stall opposite our cottage. The table is laden with a fresh bounty of different varieties from his orchard to chose from daily. I pop across and fill my basket with Bramleys for a crumble, crisp Coxes to munch on or make a tart with, or perhaps a more unusual variety I have yet to try.
This apple galette is a particular favourite at this time of year, although I often substitute the apples with other seasonal fruit such as plums, or blueberries in the summer. This is a very relaxed affair, uniformity is not needed or desirable. Handle the pastry gently and it will be tender and buttery, which in this case, is far more important than aesthetics. The recipe makes double the quantity of pastry, so I freeze half to make a quick tart another time. You could also try substituting the hazelnuts for other nuts, pecans or walnuts maybe, I often use local cobnuts at this time of year.
- For the pastry
- 500g plain flour, plus extra to dust
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 375g cold unsalted butter, diced
- 120ml iced water
- 1 beaten egg
- 2-3 tablespoons of Demerara sugar
- For the filling
- 1kg Cox's or other crisp eating apples
- 130g golden caster sugar
- juice of half a lemon
- 65g hazelnuts, or cobnuts
- crab apple jelly, warmed, to glaze (optional)
- Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add a quarter of the butter (8 pieces or so) and lightly rub it into the flour mixture with your fingertips. The mixture should resemble course sand. Add the remaining butter and rub it in gently with your fingers until the butter pieces are pea sized lumps.
- Add the iced water in stages, you may not need it all, bringing the mixture together with the flat edge of a cutlery knife. The pastry should just come together, be careful not to overwork it.
- Cut the dough in half and shape each piece into a disc about 2cm thick. Wrap the discs individually in baking paper. Refrigerate one disc for an hour and freeze the other piece for another tart.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.
- Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 23cm round, approximately 5mm thick. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Pulse the hazelnuts (or cobnuts) in a food processor until finely chopped and scatter over the pastry, avoiding a 5cm border around the edge.
- Peel, quarter and core the apples, then cut each quarter into three slices. Toss the apple slices in a bowl with the golden caster sugar and lemon juice.
- Arrange the sugared apple slices on top of the nut mixture, again leaving a 5cm border around the edge of the pastry.
- Carefully lift up the edges of the pastry to enclose the fruit. If it breaks up, patch it up, no one will know.
- Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and sprinkle over the Demerara sugar.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40 - 50 minutes until the apples are soft and the pastry is golden brown.
- Remove the galette from the oven and brush the warmed crab apple jelly over the apples. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cream.