My happy place has always been at the service of others, and I'm surprised that hasn't changed throughout my adulthood--yet. Or never, I hope! Growing up as the minority in the land of Piazzolla's captivating tango compositions and daily alfajores after school, which had led to a plumper me than I had ever cared to be--I unknowingly became the epitome of how you would describe a "third culture" kid. And as a result I learned a few things. I experienced the struggle to become a little more acceptable in the midst of an ethnocentric culture, and I also witnessed the power there is in breaking bread with the most unexpected individuals.
Having realized at an early age that everyone has a story to tell, and that every individual is facing a struggle either now or later, I made up my mind that I could most definitely be instrumental in serving people. Little did I know at the age of four that sneaking out of the house to give some stale bread to the elderly, homeless man around the corner, was the birth and embodiment of helping someone in need. Love, compassion, guilt, empathy? Call it what you will, but something happened there by God's grace. You could also say it was an emergence of my Korean roots taking place in that little stout body that I carried for years. I'm still rather stout and petite at a whopping 5 feet 1 inches by the way, but that's besides the point. If you've ever been around Koreans long enough, you might have noticed that our way of caring is through purpose filled questions like "did you eat?" instead of a safe and mundane "hello".
So I learned the art of being either a true Korean, or just a desperate, compulsive baker who knows no restraints even in someone else's kitchen. During our trip to Wichita (Kansas) to see Greg's side of the family, we made many unforgettable memories. There was much laughter, tears, manual work at the family company courtesy of Greg, a beautiful view of their lake, plenty of good food, and the most excellent Kansas steak and homemade burgers that I never knew walked this earth. I wanted to repay our family for such a great trip and I couldn't forego baking a good galette out of scratch. Without a recipe on hand (wipes sweat off forehead). I wanted to make everyone smile despite the challenges they're facing, and what better way to do it than to bake dessert?
Cake seemed rather time consuming and a bit too extravagant to eat after dinner. And then there's pie, but it's far too common in the midwest. The fancy French galette, however, seemed perfectly doable and still somewhat familiar to our family's mid-western roots. I planted myself in front of Sharon's kitchen counter (mother in law) and got to work on this apple galette filled with mascarpone pastry cream. The mascarpone custard was the greatest component in making a simple galette impressive. I've always liked desserts like apple pie, but oftentimes I find the apples lacking oomph and flavor despite the addition of cinnamon. But there's a remedy for that, and it's to pair it with a creamy custard-y ingredient; the mascarpone plus egg yolk concoction creates gustatory explosions as it melts into the fragrant apple slices. Now about that crust. It may not look like much since let's face it, galette crusts are known to look rustic and haphazardly put together anyway, but this crust....this crust is the best I've had in years. I guess I'm bragging a little but I hadn't realized until that point that an equal ratio of oil and butter would result in such a moist, flaky, and deeply rich crust. It literally flakes off the fork while still retaining its shape. This method is probably nothing new to most seasoned bakers, but I think I found my favorite crust recipe for now, or until something even better comes along.
Apple Mascarpone Custard Galette and an Oil Butter Crust
Makes an 8 inch round galette
Time: 1.5 hours total, including freezing the dough and baking time, about 20 minutes hands on
Equipment: box grater, rolling pin, small sauce pan, baking sheet
Ingredients for crust
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar (white or brown)
1/3 cup super cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large egg white
2 tbsp cold water
1 egg yolk+1 tbsp water for egg wash
sprinkles of sugar (optional)
Ingredients for filling
2 large egg yolks
1 cup mascarpone cream
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium apples, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Let's begin with the crust. Mix flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Grate butter through the medium holes in the box grater into the dry ingredients, add oil, egg white, and water. Knead and incorporate with your hands so it becomes mushy and crumbly. Be aware that due to the addition of oil, you will end up with a moist and gritty dough. Form into a ball, seal with plastic wrap, and freeze for about 20 minutes.
Now onto the filling. Preheat the oven to 375 F (191 degrees celsius). Start a sauce pan on the stove at low-medium heat. Cook egg yolks while stirring constantly for about 30 seconds, whisk in mascarpone cheese, sugar, and vanilla gradually in that order. Keep whisking to prevent burning and if it bubbles, lower the heat a little more. Cook for about 4 minutes. Set aside. Coat the peeled apple slices with cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside.
After 20 minutes are over, roll the dough onto a floured surface and make it into a circle or oval of about 1/4 inch in thickness. It should be quite large and nicely spread out. Now is the time to transfer the dough onto a large baking sheet to prevent it from ripping later.
Place apple slices in the middle of the dough and spread them out as much as possible, but leave about 3-4 inches of space in the edges of the dough so you can seal them up. Very carefully pull up a section of the edge towards the middle so it covers some of the apple slices. You might have to slide a large, sharp knife under the dough to peel it off the flat surface, if need be. Repeat this process all around the edge. Pour the mascarpone custard over the fruit so it trickles through and some of it falls to the bottom. Brush the top of the dough with egg wash and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until it's slightly golden on top. Open the oven, brush with egg wash one more time and sprinkle with sugar (optional). Bake for another 3 minutes. Let it cool and serve with ice cream!
Have you made or tried a galette before? What are your thoughts on this beautiful, timeless dessert?
What are your favorite desserts to make for others?