Galette de Menage–a French Household Cake

IMG_7078As per usual, the other evening I was browsing through a cookbook, this time a little paperback called “The French Provincial Cookbook.” On the front page, someone had written “BOUGHT IN NEW YORK 1969.” I love books with some history. At any rate, I ran across a recipe for something called Galette de Menage (Family-Style Cake). I was curious, and after doing some research, found that long ago these cakes were made from bread dough. When a housewife prepared bread dough to go to the baker, she shaped a bit of the dough into a circle, and topped it with sugar and/or cream, and sent it along, as well. This made a delicious little snack. After a while, brioche dough was specially used for the galette, and then some galettes were made with a buttery pastry dough. Whatever they are made with, galettes are simple, homey desserts.

This particular galette is of the buttery pastry sort. I have to say that at first bite I was surprised by this cake, because it was so incredibly crispy and buttery, it was almost like puff pastry. But I was also surprised that it really isn’t sweet at all, though I guess with only one tablespoon of sugar that shouldn’t have been a surprise. Further research, though, noted that this is to be eaten with jam or preserves. The light dawned. I took another little slice, topped it with some “Fruits of the Forest” jam (made with red currents, raspberries and blueberries), from Aldi’s, and was in for a treat. It was absolutely delicious. Crispy, buttery, fruity, sweet, salty, oh yum!
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Here is the recipe:

(Note: This cake is not sweet and is made to be served with jam. If you would like it sweet, add 1/4 cup sugar instead of the tablespoon, and sprinkle the cake with sanding sugar before putting in the oven.)

Galette de Menage

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm milk or cream
3/4 cup softened butter, cut up into chunks

1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift the flour as follows: Scoop the flour using a scoop-type measuring cup, and level off with a knife. Sift into a bowl. Using a large spoon, gently transfer the sifted flour to a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup, filling up to the 2-cup line. There will be some flour left in the bowl, which can be poured back into the flour sack. Pour the sifted flour into a large bowl, and mix in the sugar and salt. Make a well in the center. Into it put the chunks of butter, and the milk. According to the original recipe, you are supposed to work the butter and milk into the flour with your fingertips, but I found this to be an unmanageable mess. So I used a large spoon to smear the butter into the flour and then to mix everything together. This took about two minutes, and there were some streaks of butter still visible. When the dough became a rough ball, that’s when I kneaded it with my hands for another couple of minutes to form a smooth ball. Allow the dough to stand for 45 minutes. This relaxes the gluten. Place the dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, and roll out into a circle about 7 to 7-1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2″ deep. Using a very sharp knife, score the surface of the dough with vertical and horizontal lines, to form squares. Mix the egg yolk with the water. Brush the galette with the beaten egg yolk mixture, and bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Baking notes: The above mixing process sounds way scarier than it actually is. As long as you are using softened butter (not melted or runny), and have carefully measured the flour, the dough emerges smooth and unsticky. It rolls out easily. Do your best to roll it into a nice circle.

The chunks of butter are in the flour, and the milk is ready to pour in.
The chunks of butter are in the well of the flour, and the milk is ready to pour in.
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The ball of dough when kneaded.
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The dough is ready to be rolled out. I use an old English teacup to hold the egg yolk mixture.
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Do your best to roll out a 7 to 7-1/2 circle that is about a 1/2″ deep.
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Used a very sharp knife to evenly score the surface.

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Brush on an even layer of the egg yolk mixture.
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Fresh from the oven.

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Tastes good with a cup of tea.

Meanwhile, I’m starting to really hunger for flowers, so I bought these yellow roses and placed them on the dining room table. These will have to do until the real things come along!

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And a downy woodpecker stopped at the suet feeder a few days ago. Hope you enjoy his pictures–he’s quite handsome! Please take care. Namaste. Fran

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6 thoughts on “Galette de Menage–a French Household Cake

  1. Fran, until today I have never met another person who liked getting used books WITH underlines and notes! I LOVE those books. When I order on Amazon, I’ll always pick the one that says “some handwritten notes”. The little Downies seem pretty active lately – I’ve seen a few at the “high up” feeders, braving feral kitties watching them . . . KNOWING kitty cannot jump that high! They must be fattening up for courtship and nesting. Gee, why doesn’t fattening for courtship work in our species???

  2. I’ll print this recipe out, I love everything French. I have two cats sitting in my windows and nary a bird comes to call, so I really enjoy the beautiful bird photos…and so close-up. Very cool.
    Ginene

    1. I was lucky to see this woodpecker, because most birds seem huddled away in the shrubbery because of the cold. He’s beautiful! And, I will definitely try another French galette–I have a recipe for a galette from Strasbourg, that also sounds promising. Fran

  3. My fingers are crossed that when we visit in July, the first thing we smell when walking in the door is freshly-baked Galette de Menage. It looks so delicious!

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