If you are a crust person, you will love a galette.
Unlike most pies with their deep reservoirs of filling, galettes are flat as saucers. Their buttery pastry holds a just a shallow layer of whatever you put on top, whether it’s sliced summer fruit, slivered vegetables, or — in this autumnal example — a rich smear of maple pecan frangipane dotted with whole toasted nuts.
For crust lovers, this means a better ratio of crisp pastry to soft filling.
And for people who adore nuts but find the syrupy goo of the usual pecan pie cloying, this galette makes a sophisticated, less sweet alternative.
Like all galettes, it’s easy and forgiving. The pastry can crack and tear. The filling can leak a little onto the baking sheet. The pecans can even singe at their tips. It won’t matter at all. Once the finished galette is resting on a platter, a sunburst of golden crust and amber nuts, it is as appealing as any fancier, more elaborate confection — thrown together with a fraction of the fuss.
You can make the crust by hand or in a food processor. But since you’ll be using the processor to grind the nuts for the frangipane, you may as well use it for the crust, too. (Don’t bother washing it in between.) Although a handmade crust generally turns out flakier, if you’re very careful not to overprocess the butter into the dough, it will be fine. Two or three quick pulses early on should do it.
The only other trick is to make sure everything is well chilled before baking. This reduces the amount of filling that will inevitably run out. A little melted butter seeping onto the parchment paper is perfectly acceptable; a lavalike gush of sticky sugar, however, is best avoided.
To get a toasty, complex flavor, I sweetened the frangipane with maple sugar, which has become a lot easier to find lately — my supermarket had it. But dark brown sugar will also work, especially muscovado or jaggery, which have more oomph than the regular stuff.
Then, for seasoning, grated fresh ginger and ground allspice add a spicy perfume, while a tiny bit of flaky sea salt sprinkled onto the pastry before baking gives a savory edge.