O memory! alight and sing
Where rosy-bellied pippins cling,
And golden russets glint and gleam,
As, in the old Arabian dream,
The fruits of that enchanted tree
The glad Aladdin robbed for me!
And, drowsy winds, awake and fan
My blood as when it overran
A heart ripe as the apples grow
In orchard lands of Long Ago!
-James Whitcomb Riley (The Orchard Lands of Long Ago)
October is here. A quick scroll through Instagram and I see no less than 6 memes with our gal Anne of Green Gables thanking god we live in a world with Octobers. A lover of October myself (our wedding anniversary is later this month), I have no ties to Anne or her thankfulness…instead when October hits– the words of James Whitcomb Riley pop into my head.
Recently, at a party– Chris was in mid conversation, presumably discussing Mr. Riley with a friend, turned across the room to where I was sitting and yelled, “Hey! What did Little Orphan Annie do?” and like some super strange child-brainwashing instinct, I started reciting almost the entirety of the poem. Most people in Indiana know of the “Hoosier Poet”, and once you get outside the state line– occasionally you’ll get some who have a glint of recognition at the name Little Orphan Annie….but when we were growing up, in Riley’s birthplace of Greenfield, Indiana: October = James Whitcomb Riley.
I grew up just a few doors down from his childhood home and museum. Riley wrote well over a thousand poems during his lifetime, but was known for his Children’s Poems and at one point was called The Children’s Poet. We would take field trips to the museum in the fall as kindergarteners, peeking into the tiny closet in the upstairs room that had two green lightbulbs (Christmas lights I assume) fixed as “Goblin eyes” from the Little Orphan Annie poem meant to spook us and keep us in line (it worked…temporarily). My aunt even illustrated a book of songs written to set the poems to music, and we would sing them in music class, reading off photocopies of the illustrated book. The backyard and garden of his childhood home had a gazebo and some walking paths and my sisters and I would run races around the path up and through the gazebo. I would say it’s more than fair to say Riley had an impact on my childhood.
The first weekend of October was- and still is- the annual Riley Days Festival, which is like almost any other midwestern festival, full of craft booths and custom airbrushed t-shirts and middle schoolers roaming in terrifying packs. Most of my memories from the festival include walking around in such a pack, wandering miles worth of laps around the blocked off streets, paying for my name to be written on a grain of rice for a necklace, and soaking in that little bit of free wheeling independence with my friends. Of course– there was also the food. Just like when any fair or festival comes to town, so do the food trucks. Suddenly the air is full of the smell of frying grease and dough. Of grilled beef and soft serve and walking tacos.
I don’t have much of a desire to recreate festival foods. Elephant ears and funnel cakes and gyros are best left to the experts. Instead this week I turned back to apples. October is the end of apple season, and even though we have a whole month ahead of us, I feel like it has already flown by. I was looking for something easy to make, which wasn’t fussy like a double crust pie, but still full of apple flavor, preferably in a butter crust, so naturally I turned to a galette: all the flavor and none of the fuss! I also came across a bag of Hazelnut meal in my pantry, along with some whole peeled hazelnuts in my freezer, and this little galette just came to life. It has a high fruit/crust ratio, which I love– and considering it’s all butter crust– it does kind of have a lightness to it. Like a little dessert-snack (if there is such a thing). The thin apples layered over the brown sugar and hazelnuts create kind of a delicious Danish Kringle vibe at the end. It would be delicious warmed up with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream– the perfect end to an October meal. I think I’ll get myself a slice, and flip through that old illustrated book of poems.
Hazelnut Apple Galette
One single crust recipe of pie dough
2 Tbsp Hazelnut meal
1 lb of apples (your choice!), very thinly sliced either with ninja knife skills…or using a mandolin
1/8 tsp hazelnut extract
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice of one lemon
1/4 C granulated sugar
1/4 C whole hazelnuts, chopped finely
2 Tb light brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tb softened butter
one egg, slightly beaten
1 Tbsp Apricot or Apple jelly
Set oven rack to middle position and heat to 375F. Prepare a baking sheet with a slice of parchment paper.
Take an apple and cut it down the middle. Using a mandoline, carefully slice the apples (leaving the core) into fine half moon slices. Place in a medium sized mixing bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice, lemon zest, hazelnut extract, and granulated sugar. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the chopped hazelnuts with the brown sugar and salt. Set aside.
When the crust is ready to roll, sprinkle the hazelnut meal onto the rolling surface, along with a little flour. Role the pie dough in the hazelnut meal, flipping to ensure you get it on both sides. This is a little trick that not only adds flavor, but some welcomed nutty texture to any dough. Roll the dough out to an oblong oval, about 14 inches long.
Transfer dough to parchment lined baking sheet. Carefully sprinkle and spread the brown sugar mixture on the base of the crust. Carefully shingle the apples in one layer over the brown sugar mixture. Take the softened tablespoon of butter and put little pea sized gnobs over the top of the crust. This will add richness to the thin layer of fruit. Fold and pleat the crust around the edges of the apples. Carefully brush the crust with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake in 375F oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the apples are cooked. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Microwave the apricot or apple jelly until loosened, and paint the apples with the glaze to add a little boost of flavor and shine. Enjoy!
ALL IMAGES AND TEXT © REBA TOLODAY / THE PROPER BINGE