dreamy fig galette

fig galette

I remember when I was a little kid, I would always watch the French Chef reruns on PBS at my grandparents' house. I loved Julia Child for the reasons we all love Julia Child, but especially for all her pedagogical quirks. Like, I loved the way she explained how to add nutmeg to something. She would hold the nutmeg grinder over the bowl, and run it over the rasp just a couple times to dramatize her point: "just a little speck in there. You don't want people to taste it and say 'nutmeg!'" In one video (which I have yet to find online), she holds a nutmeg grater with a crank over a big pot of something, and taps the crank with one finger, like she's trying to diffuse a bomb. There's something kind of funny about watching someone try very hard to emphasize understatement. It's not an easy task, and one she handled with her usual charm and wit.

Indeed, it's inherently difficult to convince people that they don't need to rely on bold flavors. It's hard to hit someone over the head with subtlety. It's impossible to convince someone who loves adding eight cloves of garlic to everything that, in fact, sometimes less is more. But sometimes, flavors aren't there to be bold, and are there to support the star of the dish. In the case of this (truly) dreamy galette, that star is the fig, and everything else is just trying to help the figs be the best they can be.

fig galette

This galette is flavored with rosewater, cinnamon, and cardamom, but you shouldn't be able to taste these notes very strongly in the finished pie (or else it would be called a "rosewater, cinnamon, cardamom fig galette"). They're only present to highlight the figgy flavors, not to talk over them. If you're expecting the galette to taste like a chelsea bun, you might even be a little disappointed—and while I think it would be totally delicious with way more cinnamon, I urge you to add the amount in the recipe and see what you think. The little bits of warm spices and floral rosewater really help the figs shine and taste even more like themselves. They're the fairy dust that the galette needs to sparkle.

fig galette
fig galette
fig galette
fig galette
fig galette
fig galette
fig galette
fig galette

In addition to the beautiful flavor, there are a whole lot of other compelling reasons to make this galette:

1) It's very low in added sugar. You only add one and a half tablespoons granulated sugar and one and a half tablespoons honey to the whole entire thing. The rest of the sweetness comes from the figs themselves. So, if you're looking for something rich and sweet to serve for breakfast, without a lot of added sugar, this galette isn't actually the worst thing for you (um, just ignore that stick of butter...).

2) Speaking of that stick of butter (what stick of butter?), this crust is unbelievable. The crust recipe below is adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's cream cheese crust, and there's a lot to love about it. First, even though you use a food processor to make it, it turns out unbelievably flaky. I came up with with a different method of preparation to make it even flakier (you add the butter, and pulse it until it's still very chunky, and then add the cream cheese). But even though this is one of the best crusts I've ever had, I think my favorite thing is that the recipe calls for three ounces of cream cheese, which means you have the perfect amount left for a galette filling. Yes, you heard me right—no leftover cream cheese!

3) Galettes are so much easier (and prettier?) than pies! I'm better at the kind of food styling that looks casually sophisticated, as I think most people are. Those pie crusts that require an exacto knife and three free hours are beautiful to look at on Instagram, but not easy to accomplish in real life. But this galette, on the other hand, will actually look worse if you try trim every bit of uneven edge away before folding the sides over. The more rustic, the better!

4) It's fig season! Right now! Don't miss it! (how's that for subtlety?)

fig galette
fig galette

dreamy fig galette

Serves 8
active time: 25 minutes
total time: 3 hours
download a PDF to print
crust adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's
cream cheese crust
food styling inspiration from
Helen Goh and Yotam Ottolenghi
for a savory fig galette, try my
fig galette with lamb and caramelized onions

cream cheese crust

  • 165 grams all purpose flour (about 1 1/3 cups)

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder

  • 110 grams (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

  • 85 grams (3 ounces) cold cream cheese, sliced into a few pieces

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (teaspoons! not tablespoons!) cold apple cider vinegar

  1. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and butter in a food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse a few times just until the butter breaks down into smaller pieces (there should still be many lumps, but no whole pieces). Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

  2. Add the cream cheese and pulse until everything is incorporated, but still a bit lumpy. Add the water* and apple cider vinegar, and pulse until the mixture comes together into a ball. Mold the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about 45 minutes (I do this by putting the shaggy dough ball in plastic wrap, and then squeezing the plastic wrap to put pressure on it to turn it into a ball, and then I flatten it into a disc while it's still wrapped).

cream cheese filling

  • 142 grams (5 ounces) room temperature cream cheese

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon rosewater **

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 pinch cardamom

  1. Whisk together the cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar, salt, rosewater, cinnamon, and cardamom until the mixture is completely smooth.

assembling the galette

  • cream cheese crust dough (above)

  • cream cheese filling (above)

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey (divided)

  • 12 ounces 1/4-inch-sliced fresh figs

  • 1/4 teaspoon rosewater

  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water

  • cinnamon for sprinkling

  1. Flour the counter, and roll out the dough to about 12 to 14 inches in diameter (flour it as you go, and keep rotating to make it an even circle). Move it to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

  2. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the center of the dough, leaving a couple inches of crust around the edges. Sprinkle the cream cheese evenly with the chopped walnuts, then drizzle it with 1 tablespoon of the honey. Arrange the figs over the surface, sprinkle them evenly with rosewater, and drizzle with the rest of the honey (1/2 tablespoon). Fold one side of the galette toward the center (the fold should happen at the point where the filling ends). Repeat with the remaining sides, and finish by tucking the final side under the first side.

  3. Preheat the oven to 400° F, and throw the galette into the freezer until the oven is ready (about 10 to 15 minutes). This will help the galette hold its shape.

  4. Brush the dough with egg wash, and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, and the figs have caramelized slightly. Let it cool on the parchment for at least 15 minutes before serving (30 minutes to an hour is ideal). Dust with a pinch of extra cinnamon (don't go overboard), and drizzle with a little extra honey, if desired.

* If you're not weighing your ingredients, you should hold back a little bit of the water, and add it gradually, just until the dough ball forms. Or you might need to use a little extra water. But if you're using an accurate scale, you should be able to just add everything at once, and trust that it'll come together just fine.
** The rosewater, cinnamon, and cardamom are here to highlight the flavor of the figs. They make the figs taste even figgier, without stealing the spotlight. But if you want to add extra cinnamon, or even a tiny bit extra rosewater or cardamom, it'll still be delicious, but it will become a cinnamon fig galette. Careful not to overdo it with the rosewater and cardamom.

fig galette

pomegranate molasses meringue pie

pomegranate molasses meringue pie

I know it's completely necessary when you're baking a pie with a custard or no-bake filling, but I absolutely hate blind baking crust. Well, not blind baking per se, but blind baking with pie weights. Using pie weights has always felt like such a kludge, like some duct tape and rubber bands keeping the sink from leaking around the faucet base. I guess it technically does its job, but it's an eye sore.

This leaves us with very few options. If you blind bake without pie weights, the crust will shrink down the sides and leave you with little room for your filling. I've tried freezing the crust right before baking, but it just shrinks down about 30 seconds later than it would have otherwise. And whenever I do use pie weights, the edge of the crust always browns way too early, and then I have to make one of those annoying foil collars to go all the way around the edges after removing the weights so that the bottom can catch up. But all of these inconveniences actually don't bother me that much, because truth be told, I don't mind one or two irritating cooking tasks.

At the end of the day, I'm in it for the food, and the thing that truly makes me want to leave pie weights behind forever is the final result. Since it's so weighted down while it bakes, the crust has no room to develop those gorgeous flaky layers. I'm definitely not making puff pastry here (or even rough puff), but a little flakiness would be nice. That's why I no longer use a pie pan for single-crust pies. Instead, I like to use a 9-inch tart shell, because with a tart shell, you can have it all.

pomegranate molasses meringue pie
pomegranate molasses meringue pie
pomegranate molasses meringue pie

There's just one trick to making a tart shell work for you, which is something I learned from watching way too much Great British Bakeoff. You've got to trim the pastry after baking.

Here's how it works: You roll out your dough to the right thickness, drape it over the tart shell, and let the edges fall into the center. Then you carefully press the dough into the corners so that there are no gaps, all the way around in a circle, while you flop the excess dough over the sides of the tart shell. Then you carefully press the dough into the fluted edges so that the dough is in contact with every square millimeter of the tart shell. And, most importantly, you do not cut the excess dough off before baking. You just let it hang there, like bangs that you've been trying to grow out (too short to pull into a pony tail, too long to see through). It's ugly, but whatever, it's going to work. Dock it, freeze it, bake it, and let it cool. Then use the pan as a guide to carefully shave off the very top ridge until those excess bits are just hanging on by a thread, and then snap off those perfectly ugly little shards, eating them as you go. You're left with nothing but an exquisitely baked pie shell... in the shape of a tart... but who cares!

pomegranate molasses meringue pie

You could certainly make this recipe in a standard pie pan, especially if you have the kind with a really thin outer edge. If you have one of those big pyrex ones with handles and everything, you might not get away with this method, and might want to blind bake your crust with pie weights instead (it'll be just fine).

And now I've gone on and on about crust, without one single word about this pie in particular, which is a pomegranate molasses pie topped with heaps of Swiss meringue. Why Swiss? Because it's the kind of meringue you cook before beating, which makes it hold up incredibly well, and also makes it safe to eat if you're worried about salmonella.

Pomegranate molasses is one of those ingredients that you can't really cook Middle Eastern food without. It's an essential component of many of the recipes on my website, and it's also one of those things you can add to just about anything to make it tastier. It's what makes lahm bi ajeen absolutely mouthwatering, instead of just a flattened burger on flatbread. It's what makes muhammara not just red pepper purée, but a zesty, sweet and sour dip that you can't seem to stop eating. And it's insanely tart, which makes it perfect for a meringue pie, which needs a lot of tanginess to cut through all those dreamy billows.

pomegranate molasses meringue pie

pomegranate molasses meringue pie

active time: 1 hour
total time: 2 hours 30 minutes
download a PDF to print

the crust

  • 205 grams (1 1/4 cups) all purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

  1. Place the flour, salt, sugar, and butter in a stainless steel mixing bowl. Use your fingertips or a pastry cutter to blend the butter into the flour. Stop when there are still some tic-tac-sized lumps left. Chill for 30 to 45 minutes in the refrigerator.

  2. Once the dry ingredients are chilled, add 3 tablespoons of ice water and mix everything together with your hands, just until it comes together into a dough (add the final tablespoon only if you need it). Do not knead it—simply shape it into a ball, and let it rest in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

  3. Place the rested dough ball on a clean, lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top, and begin to roll it out with a rolling pin. Rotate and flip the dough as you go to make it an even circle. Once it's large enough to fit a 9-inch tart pan (and about 1/8-inch thick), place it in the bottom of your tart pan, letting the sides fall in toward the center.

  4. Carefully work the dough up the sides by first working your way around and pushing the dough into the corners so that there are no gaps. Let the dough drape over the sides as you work. Next, carefully press the dough into the fluting. Do not trim the excess pastry from the top, but let it hang over the outside of the pan. This will keep the dough from shrinking as it bakes.

  5. Dock the dough with a fork several times on the sides and bottom and freeze for 30 to 45 minutes.

  6. Preheat the oven to 450° F convection* so that it's ready when the pie comes out of the freezer.

  7. Move the tart straight from the freezer to the oven for about 14 minutes, just until it's turning pale golden, and is cooked all the way through.

  8. Let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes in the pan. Once it's cool, keep it in the pan and begin to carefully shave off the crust that pokes out over the top of the pan to separate the excess dough. Hold the knife almost parallel to the counter and shave away from the inside of the pie toward the outside (watch your fingers!). Use the lip of the tart pan as a guide for where to stop cutting. You'll be left with some scraps from the outside and a perfect tart shell on the inside. Leave it in the pan until filling and topping.

the filling

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/3 cup cornstarch

  • 1 cup water

  • 2/3 cup pomegranate molasses

  • 4 egg yolks (from large eggs), in a small mixing bowl (save the whites for the meringue!)

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (from about 1 small lemon)

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  1. Have all your ingredients measured and prepped before starting.

  2. In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, salt, cornstarch, water, and pomegranate molasses until there are no more lumps. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Once it reaches a simmer, reduce heat to medium and continue stirring constantly until the liquid suddenly thickens significantly. Once it's thickened, remove from heat.

  3. Take a whisk-full of the thickened pomegranate molasses mixture and whisk it into the egg yolks in the small mixing bowl. Do this with two or three more whisk-fulls, whisking it totally smooth between additions. Then add the egg yolk mixture to the pomegranate molasses mixture in the saucepan, and immediately whisk everything together until there are no lumps. Return to medium heat and stir constantly while bringing the mixture to a bare simmer. Once it reaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to low and continue stirring for a minute.

  4. Remove from heat, stir in the butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice (stir constantly until the butter melts). Once the butter melts and is fully incorporated, immediately pour the mixture into the pie shell and smooth out into an even layer. While it's cooling, make the meringue.

the meringue

  • 6 carefully separated egg whites (from large eggs)**

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • pinch of salt

  • special equipment: an instant-read thermometer

  1. Bring water to a boil in the bottom of a double boiler. While you're waiting on it, combine the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl part*** of the double boiler (off the heat). Stir with a spatula for about 30 seconds to dissolve some of the sugar.

  2. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and place the bowl on top. Stir it constantly, scraping the bottom and sides, while you wait for it to reach 170° F (about 5 to 10 minutes). Don't stop stirring, and don't let it go much over 170° F or the whole thing will over-coagulate and you won't be able to whip it.

  3. Once it reaches 170° F, immediately move the bowl to the counter, and begin beating with a hand mixer or stand mixer.

  4. Beat to stiff peaks, but do not over-beat. The meringue will hold stiffer peaks as you continue to whip it—once it's increased in volume and looks very fluffy, start checking on it every minute or two by removing the whisk from the meringue and observing what happens to the peak that forms at the end of the beater. At first the peaks will fall over, but eventually they will stick straight up and will bounce right back when you gently shake the whisk back and forth (stiff peaks). Do not beat past stiff peaks.

  5. Preheat the broiler for a few minutes.

  6. Cover the pie with the meringue and make swirls with a spoon or offset spatula (if you're good at piping, feel free to pipe it instead).

  7. Once the broiler is hot, place the pie under it for about 1 or 2 minutes. Do not take your eyes off of it—it will go straight from white to burnt in just a few seconds. Pull the pie out of the oven when the peaks start to turn dark brown.

  8. Serve immediately, or within a few hours (next-day leftovers aren't exactly company-worthy because you'll get some beading between layers, but they're still reeeally good).

* If you’re not using a convection oven, you may need to slightly increase the temperature and/or cook them just a minute or two longer.
** You can make this recipe with 4 egg whites if you don't feel like dealing with the leftover 2 yolks. Simply use 4 egg whites, 2/3 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt. I've simplified it a little, so the ingredient proportions are a little different than the above recipe, but I've tested it both ways, and this works great. You won't have the same mound of meringue on top, but it's still delicious with a more modest amount.
*** If you're going to use a stand mixer to beat the meringue, use the mixer attachment for this.

pomegranate molasses meringue pie