Cheryl Day's Rustic Pecan Galette
Have you ever felt too intimidated to bake a pie? Then you should try a galette, which, is an "unpretentious free-form pie," according to Georgia-based baking maven Cheryl Day. With no blind baking (partially baking the crust before adding filling), crust fluting (pinching the crust with your fingers) or other fuss required, she's absolutely right. Cheryl, along with her husband, Griff, runs Back in the Day Bakery, a shop that's become a Savannah institution for classic Southern baked goods –think biscuits, sweet potato cakes and, of course, pie.
Author of "Cheryl Day's Treasury of Southern Baking" (2021) and co-author of "The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook" (2012), Cheryl created a pecan galette that cooks beautifully in the ambient heat of an oven as it cools down. With a hearty crust-to-filling ratio, this dessert is one for the pastry lovers, born out of many years' knowledge and practice. While pie orders fly off the shelves during Thanksgiving, (check her Instagram account @cherylday to see when they're open for requests) the bakery is stocked daily with fresh baked goods. The recipes in the couple's first cookbook (including pie crusts) earned them a place on the New York Times Bestseller list and Cheryl's second garnered several Best Cookbook accolades and made her a James Beard Award finalist in 2021.
This pecan galette's pie crust comes together by hand from a very shaggy dough – lumpy yet well-mixed, with no dry spots of flour. Pay attention to your technique here, as smearing dough with your palm will incorporate the butter and make the resulting crust buttery and flaky. While the pie crust takes some finesse, the filling is easy to make and will meld together quickly on the stovetop.
Cheryl suggests serving this galette with a scoop of your favourite ice cream on the side – and when one of the queens of Southern baking tells you to do something, you listen. You'll find us with a thick slice topped with vanilla ice cream after dinner.
2 hours 15 minutes active
1 hour passive
3 hours 15 minutes total
For the extra-flaky all-butter pie crust
2 ½ cups (313 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (12 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (4 grams) baking powder, preferably aluminum-free to avoid any metallic taste
1 teaspoon (6 grams) fine sea salt
½ cup (120 millilitres) ice water
1 tablespoon (12 grams) apple cider vinegar
½ pound (2 sticks or 227 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch (3 cm) cubes
2 tablespoons (28 grams) olive oil
Flour for dusting
For the pecan filling
4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter
½ cup (100 grams packed light brown sugar
½ cup (120 millilitres) light corn syrup
½ teaspoon (1 gram) grated orange zest
¼ teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt
2 large (100 grams) eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (200 grams) pecan halves
1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons (9 grams) quality bourbon (optional)
1 tablespoon (15 grams) heavy cream
1 tablespoon (12 grams) granulated or sanding sugar
For the pie crust:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large measuring cup or small bowl, combine the water and vinegar. Set aside.
Toss the pieces of butter into the flour mixture to coat. Then use a pastry blender (or dough scraper) to cut the butter into the flour. You should have various-sized pieces of butter ranging from coarse, sandy patches to flat, shaggy pieces to pea-sized chunks, with some larger bits as well.
Drizzle in about half of the ice water mixture then stir lightly with a fork until the flour is evenly moistened and the dough starts to come together. If the dough seems dry, add a little more ice water –– 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 grams) at a time.
Tip: The dough will still look a bit shaggy at this point. If you grab a small piece of dough and press it lightly with your hand, it should mostly hold together.
Dump the dough onto an unfloured work surface and form into a tight mound. Using the heel of your hand, smear the dough a little bit at a time, pushing it away from you and working your way down the mass of dough to create flat layers. Next, gather the dough back together with your scraper, layering the clumps of dough on top of one another. Repeat the process once or twice more; the dough should be cohesive and still have some big pieces of butter visible.
Shape the dough into a disk and flatten it (about 8 inches or 20 cm round). Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight to rest.
Fire up your Ooni pizza oven and aim for 900°F (482°C) on the stone inside (about 20-30 minutes). You can check the temperature quickly and easily with your infrared thermometer.
Grease your cast-iron skillet with 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of olive oil.
Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin then roll the dough into a 14-inch (36 cm) circle and place it in the cast-iron skillet –– it will hang over the edges of the pan for now. Set in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
For the filling:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the brown sugar and corn syrup and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Next, add the orange zest and salt, whisk in the eggs until everything is well-mixed, and then fold in the pecans. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and (optional) bourbon, and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
Pour the filling into the center of the chilled dough, leaving a 3-inch (8 cm) border all around. Gently fold the edges of the dough up and over the filling to create loose pleats, leaving an opening in the center of the galette no larger than 6 inches (15 cm). Brush the edges of the dough with the heavy cream and sprinkle all over with the granulated sugar. When you're ready to bake, turn the flame off in your oven. Place the cast-iron skillet in the center of the oven and close the door. Halfway through (at the 7-minute mark), rotate 180 degrees, then bake for another 7-8 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbling.
Tip: If you're cooking with an oven that doesn't have a door (Koda 12 and 16), simply turn off the flame. The oven will still retain much of its heat, though you may need to cook the galette for another minute or two.
Let the galette cool completely before serving.
The galette can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day or refrigerated for up to 2 days.