“I’m not a prophet / or a stone age man / just a mortal / with the potential of a superman…”
– David Bowie
My first memorable encounter with David Bowie was the tripped-out fantasy film Labyrinth. To this day, one of my favourite movies. The thing is, Bowie’s legacy is so much more than his music. He was an artist in the way we all want to be artists. He was brave and daring. He blurred boundaries. He was enigmatic and beautiful. He was deeply creative and he embraced the otherwordly, whether by design or inclination or a little of both. He made us feel proud of our weirdness, our queerness. He was inspired and inspiring.
I’m not of Bowie’s era, really, but mum listened to plenty of Bowie so he was part of my soundtrack growing up. It wasn’t until my late teens though, in my early days at uni, that I really began embracing his music. And so this week I played homage to David Bowie with Diamond Dogs and Young Americans at top volume in the house, cajoling my kids into dancing around with me.
Vale, David Bowie.
And from Bowie, to Melbourne. We went down to Melbourne for this Christmas and new year just past. It is both strange and refreshing to play the visitor in your home town. I’ve always loved Melbourne – its straight wide streets, its drawn-out twilight, its pretentious coffee and black-hued aesthetics, its bookshops, its clanging green trams. It was the place where so many of the moments that shape a life happened for me. The city where S and I fell into a deep infatuation that, against all the odds, led to love (and eventually to this house in Brisbane with two incredibly/overly energetic young children).
While we were down south we house-sat for some friends, their big black dog, five chooks, and Jasper the rabbit. We ate banh mi in Footscray, hung with family, got Indian takeaway, rode trains, drive to Maldon for Christmas, and strolled the Melbourne streets. We also threw a barbecue and an old friend of S’s brought a big box of peaches and apricots and white cherries freshly picked from his family farm. We spent the week eating the fruits with our hands, juice dripping down the kids’ chins.
At the end of the week, we had a handful of peaches the colour of sunrise leftover. I thought perhaps grilled peaches? Maybe a pie? But cooking in a kitchen not your own is always a little disorienting and so I decided on something that I knew, something simple that would be all about showcasing the peaches. And what else but a galette, where flaky buttery pastry meets sweet jammy stone fruit in a way that is meant to be. The best part about making this galette (aside from the fact that it was fucking delicious), was that I was able to take advantage of the late night sunsets of Melbourne summer and photograph it after dinner. Everyone waited while I enjoyed the golden evening light. And then we sliced it up, topped it with vanilla ice cream, and ate the whole damn thing in one sitting.
Peach Pistachio Galette
There are two key things that will transform this galette from great to amazing. Firstly, to get the flakiest butteriest crust you need to keep the dough as cold as possible while making it (see my tips below). Secondly, make this galette with the freshest, tastiest, juiciest (ideally organic) peaches you can find.
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup wholemeal flour
1/3 cup pistachios, shelled
4 tbsps brown sugar
1 tsp salt
120 grams butter, unsalted
1/4 cup plain yoghurt
1/4 cup ice water
1 tbsp lemon juice
6 – 8 freestone peaches, ripe but not too soft
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsps raw sugar
Using either a food processor or a mortar & pestle, grind the pistachios into a rough crumb (a few larger pieces are totally fine). In a large bowl combine both types of flour, three tablespoons of the brown sugar, one third of the ground pistachios, and the salt.
Cut the butter into small cubes and, using either a pastry cutter or your fingertips, rub it through the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Try to work quickly so that the butter stays cold; a few larger pieces of butter are okay.
Whisk together the yoghurt and ice water. Make a well in the centre of the flour/butter mixture and pour in three-quarters of the yoghurt/water. Using a spatula or a wooden spoon stir it through until just combined, taking care not to overmix. If it is still a little dry drizzle in the rest of the yoghurt/water – you want to be able to form a dough ball easily, without it being too sticky. Use your hands to shape the dough into a rough disc, wrap in plastic, and pop into the fridge for at least an hour, or up to overnight.
When you’re ready to assemble the galette, preheat your oven to 200° celsius/400° fahrenheit.
Slice the peaches in half, remove the stones, and slice each half into pieces approx. 2cm thick. Combine the peaches, the remaining brown sugar, and the lemon juice in a bowl. Leave to sit for 30 – 60 minutes.
On a floured bench roll out the dough ball into a circle (approx. 30cm diameter) and transfer to a tray lined with baking paper (if your kitchen is especially warm, it might be a good idea to return the rolled out dough to the fridge for 30 minutes before proceeding to the next step). Sprinkle the remaining ground pistachios across the dough, leaving a border of approx. 4 cm all around. Pile the peaches on top of the pistachios then fold the border over the top, pleating as you go to fit it all in.
Brush the exposed pastry with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the raw sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and enjoy immediately, while still warm. Perhaps with a big scoop of vanilla-bean ice cream…
Tips: as I live in a tropical city, to ensure the dough stays as cold as possible while preparing it, I take the following steps: (1) pre-chill the mixing bowl, along with the flour mixture, for an hour or so in the fridge (2) chop up the butter and then pop it in the freezer for about 10 minutes before using it (3) combine the yoghurt and ice water then return to the fridge for about an hour before I need it, and (4) re-chill the rolled out dough before adding the peaches.