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Breton Galettes

November 23, 2011

Hélène (my partner) is from a region of France called Brittany, which unfortunately, is best understood by Canadians as being “by Normandy”. The thing about Brittany is that is has a very strong regional culture and luckily for me, a lot of this surrounds food. Breton Cider is amazingly delicious and I’m sure most of you have had a crêpe – that’s Brittany! Hélène and I spent a lot of time in the summer trying out zillions of Breton crêperies while we were there in the summer and we’ve brought back some of the best options to recreate back home.

Here’s how it works: at a crêperie, you usually order cider which comes in specially shaped mugs called bolées (see image). My appetite usually can’t handle this, but traditionally, you would start with a butter galette. Galettes are flat like crêpes, but made with buckwheat flour – they’re less well known outside of Brittany but are versatile, filling, and really good.. After this, you pick one of a wonderfully long list of galette options (some of these are laid out below), which is often served with a simple salad of just lettuce with a very mustardy dressing. There are often a lot of vegetarian options with ingredients like egg, leek, potato, tomato, and of course, wonderful cheeses. For dessert, you pick a crêpe. And that’s the Breton experience (one that I repeated an embarrassing number of times during our week there)!

I’m focusing on the galette part this week but I’ll of course be back with a basic crêpe recipe and some great toppings options.

Galettes

165 grams or 1 cups buckwheat flour
5 grams or 1 tsp salt
1.5 cups water
1 egg

Mix the buckwheat flour and the salt, then add the water in 3 parts, mixing well between each. Add in the egg and whisk. Let sit for 1 hour in the fridge.

Cooking the galettes can cause a bit of grief – the first one is always a disaster and we end up having a butter galette (or galette pieces) whether we planned to or not. It definitely takes a bit of practice and don’t worry if you don’t get perfect circles. It will still be delicious, but maybe don’t make it for the first time for a dinner party.

Basically, heat a frying pan on medium (Hélène says it needs to be properly heated before starting your first galette) and use a folded paper towel to spread butter to the edges. Pour enough batter into the pan to cover thinly, swirling the pan to make sure it’s even. As it starts to cook, use a spatula to lightly push down the edges. As the batter cooks, it will become less sticky in the pan and you will be able to use your spatula to loosen it, then ultimately flip it. If it falls to pieces, try not to do so yourself – finish cooking it on the other side, put some dabs of butter on the pieces and consider it your pre-meal snack. If this happens more than once though, just forge ahead with fillings as best you can.

Once you flip the galette to the other side, you can add your toppings right away as it’s cooking! Add them to one corner, as shown, then fold over each side to make a triangular cone shape. Serve right away, or keep warm in a 200˚ oven until ready to serve (don’t stack galettes – use separate plates).

Toppings
Featured Here
roasted potatoes with aged cheddar and onions caramelized in white whine, garnished with rosemary
apple cooked in brown sugar with brie and walnuts

Other Options
caramelized onions with a splash of white wine
cheese (try brie, goat cheese, aged cheddar, any french cheese or a combination! almost anything goes)
tomatoes, mushrooms, onion and cheese (cook the first three together)
goat cheese, roasted tomato, chives
leeks in cream (cook the leeks until soft then add cream)
cheese (try a fancier cheese like roblochon or brie) and nuts (almond, walnut, pecan)
or make your own – galettes lend themselves well to innovation

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2011 8:34 pm

    love it allie, thanks. I went to a creperie in Paris when I was there two summers ago that was the only Brittany styled one I could find. However, I am horrible at getting the crepes to stay together so I’ll try this recipe. The filing sounds amazing. I just wish I still had some cider– it’s my favourite part!

    • Hélène permalink
      November 24, 2011 3:54 pm

      Kaitlin, you should wait until Allie posts the crêpe recipe to try again! I find galettes are much harder to flip and get right, so it’s good to practice with crêpes first :)

      I miss cider too! We found a brand here that’s close to what we have back home, but it’s not quite the same and it’s pretty expensive for what it is…

      • November 24, 2011 9:07 pm

        I know, it’s never the same. I always bring back some bottles whenever I visit France.

        I used to work at a restaurant in Toronto run by a Parisienne. (I was the only anglo; she usually hired only French youth on working visas from the consulate.) She imported proper cider and brought over the crepe stoves from France, as well as, the crepe mix prepared in Brittany. I had crepes every day for a whole summer. I could make them on those stoves, but frying pans are so much more difficult to use. Next time I’m back in Vancouver we should make Crepes together!

  2. Charlotte permalink
    November 25, 2011 4:27 pm

    On the Breton side of my family, we would generally make a TON of galettes and crêpes (non-filled) and keep the extra ones in the fridge, stacked on a plate under some plastic wrap (fancy people put paper towels between galettes, but we do not have many fancy people in my family). They reheat really well, or you could always eat them cold with a filling of your choice (with jam or nutella was a popular breakfast option). They keeps for a few days, depending on your recipe and the amount of butter you use.

    • November 25, 2011 6:00 pm

      Charlotte, that sounds wonderful! It’s always a bit of an epic undertaking to make galettes fresh for dinner, especially since I always love making crêpes on the same night. It’s great to hear that they reheat well. I’ll have to ask Hélène more about what her family would do – did they ever have crêpes for breakfast? Snacks for school? So many possibilities!

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