Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Individual apple galettes flavored with mahlepi and cardamom

I made these apple galettes twice in one week. Their flavor, aromas and texture was so inviting and delicious we couldn’t restrain from wolfing them down.

The reason they were this good is not least due to the fact that I added two of my favorite spices to the pastry; mahlepi and cardamom.

The smell and flavor of mahlepi always reminds me of tsoureki, the traditional Greek Easter bread, and longing to eat it sooner than 1 May (Greek Orthodox Easter day), I thought about using it in a different kind of pastry, something I have never tried adding it to before, something totally not Greek, a galette.

I filled the pastry with apples that I tossed with cinnamon, lemon juice and demerara sugar and the combination with the flavors of the pastry was a match made in heaven.

The pastry is buttery, crumbly and flaky with the distinctive, warm flavor of mahlepi and cardamom while the apple filling is sweet, juicy and aromatic with the demerara sugar giving its caramel flavor and aroma.

Served just as they are (the way I prefer them), with a sprinkling of icing sugar (the way S prefers them) or with some billowy, freshly whipped cream on top (the way our friends liked them), they are scrumptious and very difficult to resist.

Individual apple galettes flavored with mahlepi and cardamom

I used Royal Gala apples that were sweet and crispy. If you can’t find them, use any other firm and sweet red apple. It goes without saying that the quality and flavor of the fruit makes all the difference.

Mahlepi (you may know it as mahleb) is a highly aromatic spice made from the seeds of wild cherry trees of the Mediterranean. You can see a photo of it in this post.

Use whole mahlepi (meaning the seeds, not ground) to grind yourself not the already ground one, because it’s not as flavorful and aromatic. The same applies for the cardamom.

Yield: 4 individual galettes


for the pastry dough
250 g all-purpose flour
35 g icing sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp (3 g) whole mahlepi seeds
Seeds from 3 green cardamom pods
180 g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp + ½ tsp ice cold water

for the filling
2 red apples (about 400 g) (I used royal gala)
Juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp demerara sugar

1 small egg + 1 Tbsp water, for glazing
2 Tbsp demerara sugar, for sprinkling on top

for serving (optional)
Icing sugar or whipped cream

Special equipment: mortar and pestle or spice grinder, large food processor, plastic wrap, rolling pin, baking sheet, baking paper, pastry brush

Use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to grind the mahlepi and cardamom together.

for the pastry dough
• with a food processor
In a large food processor, add the flour, icing sugar, salt, ground mahlepi and cardamom and pulse. Add the cold cubed butter and process for a few seconds until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then add the egg yolk and the cold water and process until the mixture looks like moist, coarse breadcrumbs. If you grab with your hand some of the mixture and press it, it should hold together and look like dough. Be careful not to over mix.

• by hand
In a large bowl, add the flour, icing sugar, salt, ground mahlepi and cardamom and mix with your hands. Then add the cold cubed butter and, using two knives, a pastry cutter or your fingertips, cut it into the flour, until you have a mixture that resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then add the egg yolk and the cold water and mix with your hands, working quickly, until the dough holds together in large chunks.

Empty the pastry dough onto a clean work surface and bring it together to form a firm and smooth dough. Do not knead it. Cut it into four equal-sized pieces (I use a scale to weigh the pieces for accuracy) and shape into small balls and then into flat disks. Cover each piece with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill, for 40 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the filling.

Rinse the apples well under cold, running water and cut them in half lengthwise and the again in half lengthwise. Remove the core and then slice them thinly and place them in a large bowl together with the lemon juice, cinnamon and demerara sugar. Toss them well yet gently so the apple slices don’t break, and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Line a large baking sheet with baking paper.

Remove the pieces of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and discard the plastic wrap. Place dough between two large sheets of baking paper and using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into an 17-18cm round, with an almost 5mm thickness. Transfer rolled out dough to the baking sheet. Keep rolling out the rest of the pieces of dough and move them to the baking sheet.
Divide equally the apple filling among the four pieces of rolled out dough and arrange them neatly on top, leaving a space around the edges of the pastry, about 3cm. See photo for reference. Fold the edges of the dough up and over the filling. Pour any juices that have gathered in the bowl that you kept the sliced apples over the filling of each galette.
Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl add the small egg and water and whisk to combine. Using a pastry brush, glaze the dough with the beaten egg and water and sprinkle the dough all around with the demerara sugar, sprinkling some on the apples as well.

Place on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake the galettes for about 16 minutes, or until the pastry takes on a golden color.

Remove from the oven and allow to slightly cool. Serve the galettes warm, as they are, or sprinkled with some icing sugar, or with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
You can also eat them at room temperature.

You can keep them for a day or two, covered, at room temperature but they are best eaten the same day.


  1. Dear Magda, thank you, for all the love and care you dedicate to your blog for the benefit of all your readers. May you never lack in hapiness and inspiration ! I like your photos and the new uncomplicated twists you find for your recipes, I can see your enjoyment as I go through your illustrated posts :-)

    1. Thank you so much Mariam for your kind words. I really enjoy sharing my food, recipes and thoughts here on my blog and it means a lot when people recognize that.

  2. Beautiful, Magda - I still need to find mahlepi - I really have no idea what it tastes like. I was at the Greek monastery nearby recently, but forgot to check. (I did get live oil, though!) I will go back soon and see if I can find it.

    1. Oh you need to find it. It's so unique. I don't know how someone who has never tasted it before will find it, for me it's a flavor I grew up with, but I hope you'll appreciate it.
      There's a Greek monastery in Arizona??? I can't believe it!

  3. Stunning dessert Magda. It looks delicious!

  4. i can't wait to try these, but have two questions....what could i substitute mehlepi? i live in spain and cannot locate some. also, can the pastry be made a day in advance and stored in fridge to prepare the next day? i am having a dinner party and want to not have to do all the work in one day. thanks so much for your beautiful food.

    1. I'm sorry but there's no substitute for mahlepi. It's such a unique flavor you can't really find a substitute for it. But you can omit the mahlepi and cardamom and add vanilla instead. The flavor profile will be completely different though. The pastry can be kept in the fridge for a day or two, no problem. Just make sure it isn't too cold and hard when you roll it out or else it will break.