Flavors at Home: Galettes to Cure Kitchen Apathy

For food writer Ruth Gebreyesus, kitchen apathy can only be cured by raising the stakes.  (Ruth Gebreyesus)

In light of the shelter-in-place order, many of us have resorted to cooking at home, revisiting old recipes and getting creative with our pantries. Instead of our usual Flavors Worth Finding column with recommendations from restaurants, KQED staffers are sharing the meals they’ve been making at home to find some comfort and grounding during uncertain times.

The only way I can shake off apathy in my kitchen these days is by raising the stakes. Lately, the risk and the reward have come in the form of galettes. Risk because I dislike baking. Or rather, I never liked the precision its recipes demand of me. Cooking is more forgiving. You can taste and adjust along the way. But with baking, corrections don’t seem like an option. It’s loyalty to a process that the oven hardens into permanence. It’s writing with a pen, and I prefer pencils.

But some days ago, three big yellow peaches too soft for the warm weather were eyeing me from their new home in the fridge, so I decided to make them into a galette . And because everything else is uninspiring, especially the blur of salads and snacks I've been eating between Zoom calls and sunset, the task of baking provided a structure I could appreciate.

My first galette was surprisingly easy and good. I used a recipe I found online that required an entire stick of butter and just a little over a cup of flour. Those are decadent proportions in my eyes but the recipe mentioned nothing of it. I let the dough rest in the fridge, next to the peaches it would soon host. Then out came both components. A quick egg wash and a sprinkling of sugar before getting placed into the warm oven. The flakiest bites with slices of peach baked under the buttery folds of the dough reminded me of the dreamy peach turnovers at Acme. But somehow this treat came from my hands, my oven, my faithful reading of the quantities on the recipe.

Over the weekend, I went on to repeat this same galette routine three more times. Saturday was with strawberries and blueberries to share with a couple of friends for a socially distant breakfast. Another friend coincidentally biked by my place that afternoon and grabbed a slice on the go. He was surprised I had a galette on hand to offer. I was too. Sunday, I made my third with squash, corn and ricotta for an outdoor screening of Insecure with a group chat that’s been my core survival tool through the pandemic and uprising. By that point, I was someone who made galettes and made no fuss about it.

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When I returned to the market for more fruit the following week, I bought ripe peaches and plums confidently knowing they wouldn’t go to waste. I’d found a solution in the measurements I usually shunned. I’m now at five galettes in two weeks. My fourth was particularly delicious featuring yellow and donut peaches for my friend and her family. I was sent praises on the crust from their breakfast table the next day. I humbly accepted. And my last galette, also peach, was for a birthday celebration. I topped it off with a little mascarpone. The extra touch must mean I’m getting comfortable.