brandied pear galette with almond cream filling, and a farewell to funemployment

galettes-3

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Okay, so I just wanted to say that to be dramatic. Haha. But today is the day I finally start work at my law firm. Full-time grown-up “associate” work for the first time, ever! It’s been almost three months since we took the bar exam, and after my whopping 90 days of funemployment, I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to enter the real, real world.

Brandied Pear Galettes with Almond Cream Filling

The last few weeks of my post-bar pre-work freedom have been the best kind of blur. Bowl #2 started work earlier than me, so since coming back from my parents’ place, I’ve been left to my own housewifely devices in our apartment during the day. And boy, I really went at it. I think I baked or cooked at least three (if not four, if not more) things every day, running back and forth between dough rising in the kitchen, to photographing food in our study, to the oven timer going off, to butter softening for frosting, to dishes piling up in the sink. Half the time, Bowl #2 came back from a long, stressful day at work mystified to find me even more exhausted than he was, sprawled out on our couch with my apron still on and flour smears on my jeans.

It was seriously the best kind of vacation. (It also fills me with both envy and admiration at those who can do this for a living!)

Brandied Pear Galettes with Almond Cream Filling

Making these galettes was the perfect encapsulation of my time off. Based on a lovely recipe by White on Rice Couple, here, they were a joy to make from start to finish — it has a lot of steps, but I didn’t find anything too stressful or complex, thanks to their tips. Each step is simple, soothing, and rewarding, and the result is a phenomenally nuanced dessert that you’ll be surprised you made. (At least I was. I literally kept taking bites and staring at it like, really? This? Me?) The brandied pear, the almond filling, and the buttery crust play off each other perfectly and evenly, without any one flavor dominating another.

Pears, sliced

The day I made these started gloomy and rainy, which made poaching pears in their mixture of cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and vanilla the perfect way to cozy up our apartment. There’s literally nothing like the warm fall-spiced smell that fills the kitchen when you poach these. And then the recipe calls for a sunny, butter yellow pastry cream that thickens right before your eyes like magic, that’s then mixed with almond paste and spread on the galette underneath the pear. And by the time I went to roll out the galette crusts, the sun had come out, so that I ended up laying pear slices on these delicate galettes with slanting fall sunlight warm across my shoulders.

Brandied Pear Galettes with Almond Cream Filling

This dessert was also a first in every sense — first time poaching pears (so easy!), first time making a pastry cream, and, last but not least, first time making a pie crust. The crust was a little daunting, just because I’ve heard so much about how hard it is to get a pie crust right. But with an excellent recommendation from Nancy at Gotta Get Baked of the ultimate pie crust recipe by Courtney at Neighborfood, Courtney’s phenomenal tips, and this adorably teeny Cuisinart 3-cup food processor that I finally splurged on a few weeks ago, it turned out perfectly. Tender, flaky, buttery, generally splendid. The smell that started wafting from the oven at 20 minutes was enough to make me run across the apartment to glue my face to the oven door. Awesome. Thank you so much Nancy and Courtney! Hopefully soon it’ll actually be a pie crust I make, and not just a lazy man’s galette crust. A girl can dream. 🙂

Brandied Pear Galettes with Almond Cream Filling

Brandied Pear Galette with Almond Cream Filling (based on White on Rice Couple)
makes one large galette or four small. Note: There’s also a brandy caramel recipe in the original link that I did not make for this, but which sounds phenomenal.

galette crust dough (from Neighborfood, recipe is halved):
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small squares
2 tbsp ice water

pears:
2 cups water
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 whole cloves or 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 anise star
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2-3 medium Bosc pears, ripe but still firm, sliced into halves (I only used two and froze the third)
1/4 cup brandy

almond filling:
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp sugar
a pinch of salt, preferably kosher or sea salt
1 egg, separated
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup blanched almonds*
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar*
1/4 tsp almond extract

*alternatively, use 4 oz almond paste

1. First, prepare the galette (pie) crust. If you have a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl and pulse once or twice to sift it. Add the cubed better and pulse again until the mixture has small lumps. Finally, add the ice water one tablespoon at a time, blending briefly after each, just until it forms a dough. Here’s how mine looked only after pulsing very briefly after the second addition of water:

photo

For instructions on how to make pie crust without a food processor — and generally amazing tips on how to tackle them — see Courtney’s post. Also, note that the small food processor worked for this because I halved the recipe; it may not work if you make the full scale one.  Edit:  Since making this first crust, I now tend to make my pie crusts a bit differently, by hand and by grating the frozen butter into the flour — see this recipe for reference.

2. If you plan on making one large galette, roll the dough into one large ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate. If you plan on making mini galettes, divide into three or four balls, wrap each, and chill. You can either refrigerate for up to 30 minutes or freeze them until you’re ready to use them. If frozen, let thaw in the fridge overnight or on the counter for 30 minutes.
3. Next, prepare the pears. In a pot, combine water, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, and anise, and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar dissolves, then add the pears and cook for 10-20 minutes or until pears are tender. Remove the pears and reserve the syrup for other uses. Place the pears in a bowl or Ziploc bag with the brandy.
4. To make the almond filling, you’ll first need to make a pastry cream. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. While milk heats, combine cornstarch, sugar, salt, and egg yolk (reserving the white) in a small bowl and whisk until well-incorporated. After the milk is hot, pour a third of the milk into the egg mixture and whisk immediately to avoid cooking the egg. Pour the tempered egg mix back into the saucepan with remaining milk and return to heat. Heat over medium-low heat until pastry cream thickens, stirring constantly. Add vanilla extract, then pass through a fine mesh sieve to filter out any lumps. Set aside.
5. Next, make the almond paste. Pulse together the blanched almonds and confectioners’ sugar in a blender or food processor. Add the egg white and almond extract and blend again until incorporated. Whisk the almond mixture and the pastry cream together and set aside. (Note: Mine was still a bit coarse, and that was fine for me.)
6. Remove the cores from the pears and slice them into 1/8″ slices. I sliced them widthways to form shorter slices, since I was making mini galettes.
7. Working with one dough ball at a time (leaving the others in the fridge), place the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper and roll it out to a circle about 1/8″ thick.
8. Now you’re ready to put the galettes together! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or greased foil. Peel off one piece of parchment from the dough, flip the crust onto the baking sheet, and then remove the other piece of parchment. Pour a few tablespoons of the almond filling into the center of the galette crust and spread it evenly in a circle. Layer on pears, then fold the edges of the dough around the pears. Repeat for the other galettes.
9. Place sheet pans in oven and bake for approx. 35 min or until crust is golden brown.

Brandied Pear Galettes with Almond Cream Filling

Brandied Pear Galettes with Almond Cream Filling

Brandied Pear Galettes with Almond Cream Filling

Wish me luck today 🙂 Even though I’ll just be sitting in training all day. Thank you so much for reading!

31 comments

    • says:

      October 21, 2013 at 7:25 pm

      Oh, yay!!! If I can do it, you definitely can 🙂 I think the only part that was a little tricky was handling the crust after it was rolled out, but you just gotta go for it, I think. 🙂 Plus, galettes are so forgiving!

  1. says:

    October 21, 2013 at 9:42 am

    They look beautiful! Haha I can completely relate to your work situation – it must be so exciting and scary at the same time to know you’ll be entering “the real world” of adults, good luck!

  2. says:

    October 21, 2013 at 10:01 am

    I hope you have a totally lovely first day of work! You’re going to kill it! I’m so glad you had success with the pie crust. These are gorgeous and your description made me want to go make it RIGHT NOW. Also, I’m totally the same way on my days off. It’s a blur of whipping, kneading, photographing, twittering–usually all in my yoga pants since I’m *definitely* going to work out–but I never do. I end up in a heap on the couch with frosting stuck in my hair. Ah, the blogger’s life. 🙂

    • says:

      October 21, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Hahaha, I love it!! Isn’t it funny how that’s what we do to relax? I’m so glad you’re the same way (down to the frosting in the hair! At least it smells nice…) THANK YOU again for your amazing recipe and thank you so much for the kind words!

  3. meg says:

    October 21, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Sounds perfect for fall! I love it when there is a creamy almond layer in pastries. I’m still funemployed, congrats on getting back into the workforce!

    • says:

      October 21, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      Oh my goodness, that almond filling was so good. I kept almost thinking it was my favorite part, except then I’d be like wait, but the pear…but the crust.. Haha. Thank you so much for your comment, Meg! Enjoy your time off 🙂

  4. says:

    October 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Good luck on your first day!! I’ve only recently moved into a work-from home pace, and I know totally what you mean- it can be totally floury, messy and exhausting, but I’ve been really digging it every day. White on Rice recipes are always such a home run- these would be perfect to tackle with all the gloomy-turning-to-sunny days we’ve been having!

    • says:

      October 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      Oh wow, congratulations!! It must be so tiring and rewarding at the same time 🙂 I’ll have to live vicariously through you for the time being. And yes, I’m going to be such a devoted follower of White on Rice from now on!! (Beautiful, crisp day we had today though, wasn’t it!)

  5. says:

    October 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    This sounds delightful, especially the pastry cream and almond mixture – they are two things I’m still not confident about. Good luck in the real real world!

    • says:

      October 21, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      You know, mine was so far from perfect! I wasn’t expecting the pastry cream to thicken as quickly as it did so it was not as smooth as it should have been. But in a dessert like this, it still shone. Definitely a good way to ease into making them. Thank you so much for your comment! 🙂

  6. says:

    October 21, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Lol, be as dramatic as you want! And you totally have license to whine ‘n bitch ‘n moan ‘n complain about work too, now that you’re starting. Just think of it as therapy otherwise you’ll go nuts! Ahhhh, I wish I had three months off to just bake to my heart’s content every day. Sounds like a wonderful dream! Now if only someone would pay me to do it and it’d be perfect. Your galettes turned out beautifully! Isn’t Courtney’s recipe the best? I don’t know if I ever need to try another pie crust recipe ever again.

    • says:

      October 22, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      Ooh, girl, let me tell you I’m already exhausted. But I think that’s more from the initial socializing than anything. I think I got too used to only talking to (1) the oven or (2) what was coming out of them. And yes, that time off was just glorious 🙂 I hope you can get some vacation yourself! You deserve it, lady. Thanks again for that phenomenal recipe rec — just like you I don’t think I’ll ever stray!!

  7. says:

    October 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    These look beautiful!

    Galettes are how I first got into making pie crusts, too (using a technique I found in an Alice Waters’ cookbook to break up the butter into the dough by hand, without a food processor). Now I’m finally MUCH more comfortable making galettes, tarts, and even occasionally pies (though I still haven’t made a single pie for my blog– pies have their own set of difficulties…), because I know that crusts aren’t actually as difficult as they’re hyped up to be– you just need coldness! Cold butter, cold water, etc. And if at any point the whole dough situation is getting too warm, you can always just stick in in the fridge for 10 minutes and then try again.

    • says:

      October 26, 2013 at 12:29 am

      That is so true! And I did end up doing that quite a bit as I was moving between the four galettes I ended up making. Good to know I was doing things right 🙂 Thanks so much for the comment, Allison! 🙂

  8. says:

    October 24, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    It’s funny, I love working with pastry. But I very seldom bother to make it for myself. And I’ve yet to make a galette. Although, I’m hoping to make a pumpkin pie next week. They’re not something we have over here so I’m going to have to make it! I’ve bought the pumpkin already.

    Good luck with your new job!

    • says:

      October 26, 2013 at 12:30 am

      Oooh, that sounds wonderful!! Pumpkin pies are on my goal list as well, for sure. I can never get tired of baking with pumpkin…

      Thank you so much! First week done, definitely tired but made it through 🙂

  9. says:

    February 4, 2015 at 12:40 am

    Hi Cynthia! This galette was also the first time I made a pie crust, pastry cream, and poached a pear. Maybe that’s why this recipe resonated with me. I realize this is a really old recipe, but after discovering your blog and going through the archives, I couldn’t help but make it! I swapped the brandy for Marsala and reduced the poaching liquid to pour over the galettes. They turned out great.

say hello!