Seattle chef Heather Earnhardt says it doesn’t have to be perfect to be great. (She also says to have cake for breakfast. Yes!)
HEATHER EARNHARDT makes her galettes big — a foot and a half in diameter, maybe more.
She makes pretty much everything big. At her tiny, adorable Seattle restaurant, The Wandering Goose, her gigantic layer cakes tower on the counter; a slice of one of them is at least as tall as it is wide. Her buttermilk biscuits are as big as a stretched-out hand. On Fried Chicken Fridays — The Wandering Goose stays open past lunch only on Fridays, because Earnhardt wants to be home other nights for dinner with her five kids — every plate’s loaded with three big pieces, three sides and a biscuit.
Earnhardt’s new cookbook, “Big Food Big Love,” is full of family photos and stories. Both sets of her grandparents lived in North Carolina, and their homes and kitchens were a source of consistency during her peripatetic childhood. She says she always wants cookbooks to be more autobiographical, more personal, “instead of just a straight-recipe kind of thing.” She wrote hers all herself, no co-author, and you can almost hear her slight Southern accent in her lovely, fluid style of writing. Reading it is like talking to a lifelong friend who happens to know all the stuff about cooking that your own grandmas might have told you.
Her recipes come with generous-spirited prefatory notes. For “Happy Birthday Cake,” you’re assured, “This is a cake that you should have enough of to serve a slice for breakfast.”
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“Big Love Buttermilk Fried Chicken” expresses the hope that you’ll make enough to have a piece or two left over to eat as a midnight snack, standing in front of the fridge.
On “Salty Whiskey Caramel Sauce”: “Be extra careful … the sugar gets superhot and can burn you. Use potholders and stand back from the saucepot.”
Her favorite entry from the page “Thoughts on Cooking” is: “Know that you will screw something up, and know that it’s OK if you do. Don’t be hard on yourself (like I am); just start over and try it again.”
A galette’s meant to be messy — it’s pie’s loosey-goosey cousin, much more forgiving and every bit as good. “You can just throw the ingredients on there and fold over the sides,” Earnhardt says. “I like something that’s more rustic — I don’t want a perfect anything.”
It’s versatile, too; use thyme instead of rosemary, or a mix of apples and pears. For a savory version, try apple with an herb or chives, then add blue cheese or grate Gruyère over the top for the last few minutes of baking; or make one with butternut squash, chèvre and herbs.
She advises ensuring everything’s cold when you make the dough, then adding the vodka or ice water gradually, “or it gets super-gloopy.” Don’t roll it too thin, she cautions, “Or it’s gonna get a hole, and then all your juice from those apples leaks out” … but not too thick, “’cause otherwise it won’t get cooked all the way.” She holds her fingers apart to show the ideal thickness. “What is that? A little less than half an inch, not a quarter — a third? Is there such a thing?” She laughs. Don’t lose heart and take your galette out too early, either: “You don’t want pale-colored pastries — you want dark golden-brown, and the apples to be starting to get black in some places on top.”
She serves it drizzled with caramel sauce and a scattering of extra rosemary.
Also, Earnhardt says, “Know if something doesn’t work the first time, doesn’t mean it’s not going to work the second or the 10th time … Your 20th galette is probably gonna be better than your first.”
All you have to do is try, and if it turns out big and beautiful and imperfect, well, that sounds like love.
Apple Rosemary Galette
Makes one 12-inch galette
1 recipe liquored pie dough (see below)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 to 5 tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¾-inch slices
Pinch of kosher salt
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 recipe egg wash (see below)
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
1. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour. On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough out into a 16-inch circle, ¼ inch thick. Place it on a parchment paper/lined baking sheet, and chill it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and salt. Increase the heat to high, and sauté the apples until they start to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and rosemary, and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Spread the filling out on a baking sheet to cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
4. After the filling has cooled, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Spread the filling evenly over the round, leaving a 2-inch border around the edge. Starting at one side, fold the 2-inch border of dough over the filling all the way around, leaving a gap in the middle where the filling shows. Brush the dough with egg wash, and sprinkle it with turbinado sugar. Bake until the crust is dark golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes.
Liquored Pie Dough
Makes enough for two 9-inch crusts
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1½ tablespoons kosher salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold (preferably frozen), and cut into ¼-inch dices
1 cup plus a few extra tablespoons chilled vodka (or ice water)
In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and salt five times. Add in the butter pieces, and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas. (If using a stand mixer, mix everything on low speed until the butter is the size of small peas.) Turn the dough out into a large bowl. Add the vodka slowly, using a rubber spatula to gently mix it in. Keep adding vodka until the dough is cohesive and can be patted together easily. Form the dough into a 1-inch-thick disc, and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using.
Makes ¾ cup
1 egg, beaten
½ cup heavy cream
In a small bowl, using a fork, beat the egg and cream together until combined. Leftover egg wash will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator.