Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Apple-quince galette -- a good idea poorly executed


To celebrate apple season, I like to bake the apple galette in Rose Levy Bernabaum's Pie and Pastry Bible. I first discovered the recipe in the Washington Post when it accompanied a review of the newly published book (1998). Since then, I've made it many times with great success.

The crust is always crisp and flaky, and tastes great. Three elements of the recipe separate it from others: 1) the dough contains almost as much cream cheese as butter, 2) the dough contains a small amount of apple cider vinegar. The acid in the vinegar weakens the gluten in the dough, making it easier to roll. It also minimizes shrinkage during baking. 3) It is baked it on a cookie sheet (or pizza pan) that is placed on a pizza stone. This helps crisp the bottom of the crust. (You can find the recipe for the apple galette in the New York Times archive.)

Normally I make the galette with apples only. This time, though, destiny added another ingredient.

The first brush with destiny was a spontaneous visit to Sens (where Shuna is pastry chef) a week ago. One of the desserts I sampled had a delicious quince puree (the dessert is described here; my plate also had a lemon verbena caramel that tasted like a sunbeam -- bright and piercing).

The second brush with destiny came a few days later on one of those Saturday mornings when my farmers market shopping list has two items ("apples" and "almonds") and I end up buying ten things. Quince were for sale (a rare occurrence in my recollection), so I bought a few.

I seemed to remember that special treatment was required for one reason or another (tannins? sourness? bitterness?), so I opened my trusty Chez Panisse Desserts and found a recipe for poached quince. Pretty simple: peel and core the quince, then gently cook it in a sugar syrup for a long time (they recommend 2 1/2 hours, I couldn't wait longer than 1 1/2 hours). Amazingly, the fruit turned from an appley-white to a beautiful deep red as it cooked.

The poached quince has a floral aroma, a lovely flavor, and a texture somewhat like pear but more gelatinous (the fruit is high in pectin). (David Lebovitz recommends using whole, uncooked quince as an air freshener for your car. I tried this last year and it really works!)

I added the pieces of poached quince to the galette in a rather haphazard way, merely scattering them across the top of the apples. I poured the cooking syrup over the galette before baking.

The result was great, but could be improved. Next time I will try thinly slicing the quince before poaching, then layering it with the apples to integrate the two fruits. And I'll save the syrup for after the galette comes out of the oven to prevent it from soaking into the crust.




Random link from the archive: Yeasted Chocolate Cupcakes

Technorati tags: Baking : vegetarian : Food

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