As you might expect there’s so much more to Michelle Branch than singing and songwriting. She tells me that if she hadn’t made it as a musician her back-up plan was to become a pastry chef and you can see/taste why. The music business’s gain was the culinary world’s loss and if she had followed the culinary route I feel sure she would have been picking up James Beard Awards for excellence rather than the Grammy she has won.
So when the blueberries in my garden reached a dark blue, plump, juicy sweetness, and my friend Annabelle (also an amazing pastry chef) suggested a blueberry pie, I knew who I had to call. Michelle makes the best blueberry pie EVER! In fact, I can honestly say I don’t know her as a musician to me she is more famous for her delicious desserts.
As the kids played and we sipped rosé, Michelle made her perfect pie. First she made the dough which was left to rest in the fridge for about an hour whilst the kids went for a swim and we picked the blueberries from the bushes. I’m surprised we managed to save any for the pie as the fat grape sized berries were plucked from the bush and more seemed to go in hungry mouths than into the bowl.
Michelle likes to make a galette, a fancy French term for a free form pie. “The best thing about this sort of pie is there is no waste, you use all the dough,” she says. “And the key is the butter – really good quality French butter mixed with flour and iced water.” Michelle’s recipe makes enough dough for two pies.
Once the dough is rolled out and the blueberries have macerated with a little sugar, cinnamon flour and lemon zest/juice you are ready to form the galette. Place the breadcrumbs in the center of the pie – this will soak up the juices to prevent a soggy bottom and means you don’t need to add cornstarch to thicken the filling. Place the fruit in a pile on top of the breadcrumbs and gently fold the dough into the center.
Dot top of fruit with small cubes of butter, gently place under the crust and then brush with a little egg wash and sprinkle some crunchy sugar.
Place in the pre-heated oven (425 F) and cook for about 30 minutes until golden brown.
Once the galette is cooked remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. As it is cooling you can add some fresh lemon zest.
Serve with Vanilla ice cream and try to resist licking the plate – I had to! We celebrated the arrival of Princess Charlotte – hence the pink roses and also Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance music that was playing on Sonos as we ate the pie for supper. As Michelle said, “It’s not everyday a Princess is born.”
Michelle Branch’s Galette Recipe fit for A Princess
makes enough for two large pies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon bakers sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold French unsalted butter
5 tablespoons iced water (Plus or minus as you need)
3-4 cups blueberries (you can substitute any fruit that’s in season – stone fruit, apples, berries)
1 lemon – zest and juice to taste (approx tablespoon of each) – plus extra zest to top
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar (to taste – depending on sweetness of berries – if fruit very sweet you may need less)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 – 2 tablespoons butter to dot
1 egg – mixed well for egg wash
For the Crust
In a large bowl mix the flour sugar and salt together. Cut in the butter using a knife or rub into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs. Add the iced water one tablespoon at a time and bind the mixture together – be careful not to add too much water or over work the dough as this will make for a tough rather than flaky crust.. Once the dough comes together (approx 5 tablespoons) divide in half and form two disc. Cover in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
For the Filling
Pick blueberries from bushes in the garden (or buy from the market!). In a large bowl combine the fruit with the lemon juice, cinnamon, salt and flour. Add sugar to taste – more or less depending on sweetness of fruit. Allow to macerate for at least 10 minutes.
To Make the Galette
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Remove disc of dough from refrigerator and allow to warm up. Place in the middle of a large piece of parchment paper and gently roll out into a round approximately 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the rolled out dough on the parchment paper to a large sheet pan. Place the breadcrumbs in the center of the pie and add the fruit in a pile on top of the breadcrumbs. Gently fold the dough towards the center around the edges to create the galette. Dot top of fruit with small cubes of butter, gently place under the crust and then brush with a little egg wash and sprinkle some crunchy sugar. Bake in the oven until golden brown and the fruit is bubbling hot, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle the top of the fruit with some extra zest. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.
Do mum a favor this weekend and make her a galette – it’s not difficult if you follow Michelle’s recipe and so delicious. And perhaps give mummy a few blueberry bushes for her garden – in preparation for more pie next year.
Thank you Michelle.