A few years ago my coworker Alex was describing a friend of his — let’s call her Anya. While Alex sat in Anya’s kitchen he watched as she removed a homemade pie crust from the freezer, rolled it out, peeled and sliced a few Cortland apples right into the middle of the dough, sprinkled them with cinnamon, butter, sugar, nutmeg. A little more sugar. A little more cinnamon. Hmmm, maybe a squeeze of lemon. Yeah, that works. Then she folded the crust around the little pile and popped it in the oven. And the whole time Anya was improvising her baked apple pastry she was engaged in a conversation with Alex about Frank Rich and Thucydides and also her novel that — whaddayknow! — just hit the New York Times bestseller list. OK, I’m making that last part up. But in my mind this Anya woman has become something of a goddess to me. Even though I’ve never met her and even though her name is probably not Anya. She just embodied that person who I want to be in the kitchen — the person for whom everything comes so instinctively and effortlessly. The person who doesn’t bake a pie in a pie dish or even use a bowl to mix sugar into apple-pie apples! Needless to say, from that moment on, it is the only way I’ve ever made an apple pie, which is technically known as a galette, which in my house is now technically known as a gazette because that’s what Abby called it by accident and it just seems so much cuter. Don’t you think?
Anya’s Apple Gazette
My favorite thing about this recipe is that it does not yield a whopping monstrosity of a dessert that sits on the counter and gets picked at all week long. It’s just the right size for a family of four to each have a single modest serving.
Preheat oven to 425°F. If you have a ball of Martha Stewart’s pate brisee in the freezer, lucky you! If you don’t, remove a 9-inch storebought frozen pie crust (such as Pilsbury) and thaw. Peel and slice about 3 to 4 apples (Cortland, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Northern Spy, McIntosh are excellent pie-baking apples) into the center of the crust, leaving about an inch border around the perimeter of the dough. Sprinkle the apples with about 1/4 cup sugar, a few shakes of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Using your hands, toss everything together gently, then fold the crust over the apples as shown. Dot the apples with butter and brush the crust with milk or a beaten egg. (This is an excellent task for kids.) Bake for 20 minutes. Then turn down heat to 350° and bake another 20 until crust is golden and apples are a little bubbly. If the crust is looking too brown before the apples are bubble, cover the galette with foil. Once the galette is cool, Abby likes to sprinkle it with powdered sugar, but this is not required.