Though I adore the strawberries, plums and peaches of summer, by the time fall rolls around each year, I am ready for apples. To me, they are a sign of cooler weather, cozy evenings and a slightly slower pace of life.
When they’re in season, I often buy apples by the half bushel. One of my favorite local orchards offers an amazing deal at our Sunday farmers market. You can fill up an entire crate of apples for $20. It means that they’re able to move a mountain of apples and I feel like I’m getting a bargain. The only trouble is that I then have 20+ pounds of apples to eat, use and preserve.
And so, I get to sorting and cooking. I fill up one whole crisper drawer with the best-looking apples for eating whole or slicing to dip in peanut butter (that is one of my all-time favorite snacks). I make applesauce, apple butter and little jars of honey-colored jelly.
Then, when all that is done, I gather the remaining few apples and I close out my personal harvest celebration with a treat. Some years, I bake up a tender apple cake. Others, I opt for a Dutch baby with apples cooked into the batter. This year, the recipe that caught my eye was Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for Apple Galette with a Goat Cheese, Sour Cherry and Almond Topping.
This gorgeous galette has you saute apples in a bit of butter, top them with sugar and spice and then fold them into a round of puff pastry. While it cooks, the pastry puffs up around the apples, enveloping them in tender, flaky goodness. Once the galette is nearly done, you add the topping and bake for just a few more minutes, to soften the goat cheese ever so slightly. It is gorgeous, intensely good and perfect for an autumnal Weekender.
Before you start baking, read these tips:
— Make sure to peel and slice all the apples before heating your butter. If the butter burns before the apples are ready for the pan, wipe it out and start fresh. You don’t want the flavor of acrid dairy infecting your galette.
— Watch the baking time. I found that my galette was ready for the topping in just 25 minutes, which is about 10 minutes less than the recipe suggests.
— I found that this galette is best served just barely warm. Cut it too soon and the juices will run and the apple slices will slip out. Giving it some time to set up means that you’ll have slices that are pretty and moist.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.