Apple Galettes

When you pick too many apples at the orchard, you look for apple recipes that use a lot of them at once. This uses 4 apples, and today we’re targeting manual dexterity and strength.

Making pastry dough involves what cookbooks call “rubbing butter into flour” – a motion that involves repeated pinching and extension of the fingers. If it can be fatiguing for my hands, just think how strengthening it is for toddlers!

Belle squishing butter for pastry dough.

After I cut the butter into the flour mixture, I modeled the motion I wanted her to mimic. I was able to describe the process to Belle as “squishing the butter,” since her grabbing the butter would necessarily pull in some flour and break the butter into smaller flakes. She ran with that, repeating “squish! Squish!” as I tried to get her to expand that to a two word phrase: “squish what?”

Pastry dough

Belle got bored, fatigued, or both before the dough came together, so I ended up doing a bit of kneading to gather the coated butter flakes into a ball. However, she was so involved in the hands-on squishing that she was fully occupied for long enough that I could make a solid dent in the coring and slicing of the apples. (The rest of the time, she decided to clean the unplugged stand mixer with a Lysol wipe.)

Thinly sliced apples

Rolling the dough ended up more of a mama activity because of the flour needed for the counter and the rolling pin (and because Belle was more interested in cleaning), but the rolling pin is great for upper body strength and coordination. Belle has to hold the handles, coordinate her arms and torso to stretch deep over the counter with downward force, and stabilize one end of a heavy rolling pin while cupping her hand (manual dexterity!) with flour and rubbing it on the pin.

Uncooked apple galettes on a cookie sheet

Once the dough is rolled out, we flipped a heavy cereal bowl to cut out 6″ rounds. Again, the press and twist motion over the counter gave Belle a chance to balance manual strength (pressing, lifting) with manual precision (placing, twisting). I lifted the rounds onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment, then Belle moved the apple slices carefully onto the rounds.

I modeled how to lift and pinch the sides, and she then used her pincer grasp to “baby squish” the sides. Because galettes are free form and rustic, they are perfect for children’s irregular efforts.

Brushing milk onto galette crust

Skills targeted:

  • Manual strength
  • Manual dexterity
  • Upper body strength
  • Stretching attention span
  • Food prep!

Equipment needed:

  • Mixing bowl
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Bowl with approx 6″ diameter (if you have a 4.5″ diameter bowl, expect to fit 1/4 apple per galette and get 14-15 galettes)
  • Parchment paper (optional)
  • Pastry brush

Four completed apple galettes

This recipe came from the blog Eat Live Escape, as Red Apple, Cinnamon, and Brown Sugar Galettes. We found it didn’t brown in the oven as quickly as the recipe stated, the brown sugar syrup directions were a little too loose, and it didn’t make enough galettes (so we doubled the recipe), but we loved how it relied mostly on the sweetness of the apples themselves. The pastry as we did it was not flaky, but rather solid enough to hold half an apple unsupported.

Recipe (45 min prep, 40 min bake, yield: 8 6″ galettes):
For pastry:

  • 3 c flour
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 c) butter
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Up to 1/4 c chilled water

For filling:

  • 4 apples, cored, skin on
  • 3/4 c water
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp butter, divided
  • Cream or milk, for brushing
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash 4 apples well, core, then slice thinly (about 1/8″ thick), keeping slices in groups of 1/2 apple each on the cutting board.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk 3 c flour, 3 tbsp brown sugar, and 2 tsp salt. Cut in 3 sticks of butter in approximately 1 tbsp chunks. Rub butter into flour until crumbly.
  3. Add 2 tbsp milk to help dough ball form, then sprinkle chilled water on til dough has just combined. Dough should not be at all sticky.
  4. Roll out dough on a floured surface to about 1/8″ thick. Use the (optionally floured) top of a bowl to cut 6″ rounds, remove rounds to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Scraps should be gathered and rerolled.
  5. Place half an apple on each round, arranging slices as desired. Lift sides and pinch, leaving a small cranny for sugar syrup to fill.
  6. In a small pan over medium-high heat, whisk together 3/4 c water, 2 tbsp brown sugar, and 4 tsp cinnamon until sugar is dissolved and cinnamon is wet. Reduce by half to create sugar syrup, then drizzle about 1 tbsp over each galette.
  7. Top each galette with 1 tsp of butter (pats will be about 1/8″ thick on a standard stick of butter, divide if necessary for your arrangement of apple slices). Brush pastry crust with cream (it will stick the pastry brush better) or milk.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until pastry is golden brown and firm, and apples are soft. Let cool 5-10 minutes on cookie sheet before tasting. Serve warm with ice cream or store in a covered container 1-2 days in refrigerator. Rewarm for 10 min in a 275° oven if desired.

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