The mix of ordered fruit and a rustic, haphazard crust encapsulates the French term, galette. Typically, the crust is made with plenty of butter so when it is baked, it becomes flaky and extra crusty. In France, a galette can be made either sweet or savoury with ham, eggs and cheese, otherwise known as a galette complète. The galette des Rois is eaten on January 6, the Christian feast of Epiphany. To celebrate, a small trinket is hidden in the cake and the finder is named the ‘king’ for the remainder of the day. My galette is made sweet by a fragrant mixture of honey and wine that is first used to make the apples heady and boozy and then reduced to give the cake a beautiful glacé finish.

John Francis, Still Life with Yellow Apples, 1858
oil on canvas, 64.1 x 76.8 cm, Detroit Institute of Arts

John F. Francis was a self-taught, American artist working out of Pennsylvania who began his career painting colourful portraits. Within his portraiture he often included small and very detailed still lifes and in 1850 he abandoned the genre to focus on still lifes and predominantly depicted fruits. Painted in the style of the American artist Raphaelle Peale, Still Life with Yellow Apples is a dramatically lit composition set against a dark background. Francis, along with contemporary Severin Rosen, sought to glorify local produce and the harvest bounty. This painting would have been a typical work hung in a parlour as it contained many of the luxurious objects loved by Victorians.

{Honey-Wine Apple Galette}

2 ½ c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 c unsalted butter, cold and chopped into pieces
½ c iced water
3 apples
¼ c honey
¼ c white wine
1 tsp brown sugar
1 TB salted butter

In a large bowl sift the flour, sugar and salt. Add the cold, chopped butter and begin to rub the butter into the flour mixture until the flour resembles damp sand. Add the ½ c ice water and mix until just combined. Turn out onto a counter, form into a disc, wrap with cling-film and refrigerate for 1 hour.

When the pastry is almost done chilling, carefully core the apples and thinly slice. Toss with the honey and wine in a large bowl. Set aside and preheat the oven to 175C/350F.

Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and on a floured work surface, roll it out until it is about a quarter of an inch thick. Carefully lay out the apple slices in a pleasing pattern, reserving the reaming honey wine. Fold the extra pastry over the apples (you may need to remove some pastry if there is an excessive amount) and carefully transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dot the apples with the salted butter and sprinkle over the brown sugar.

Slip the galette into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until the crust is golden. Meanwhile, heat the remaining honey-wine in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and continue to simmer until the mixture reduces by half. Serve the galette warm with whipped cream and a drizzle of the honey-wine.