Why People Can't Agree If Galette Complète Is Actually A Galette

One could be forgiven for assuming the galette complète is nothing more than a glorified crêpe. The Bretons of northwestern France would disagree, however. The galette complète is a type of galette bretonne, which is a pie from the region of Brittany (via Culture Trip). It consists of a thin, crêpe-like shell made of buckwheat flour — which, by the way, is gluten-free — that is then filled with egg, smoked ham, and shredded cheese like Emmental or Gruyere. Popular for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the galette complète is a staple of Brittany.

We should clarify that while the complète galette is crêpe-like in its appearance, it is not, in fact, a crêpe. The French take this distinction very seriously. As Merci Marcel tells us, crêpe differs in that they are more like skinny golden-hued snacks in the shape of pancakes, typically topped with something sweet like sugar, caramel, or chocolate. The galette complète, by contrast, is hearty and savory, thanks to its buckwheat flour batter and traditional fillings. So while the distinction between crêpe and galette complète is clear, elsewhere across France, galette takes on a variety of forms.

Varieties of French galettes

According to Great British Chefs, what we know of today as a galette first appeared in Norman times. Then simply called a gale — which in French means "flat, open cake" — the galette has gone on to represent a variety of different dishes, all of which share this definition. We've already seen the galette complète in Brittany, but elsewhere in France, these dishes take on different shapes and forms. Perhaps the most well-known, what many of us think of when we hear "galette" or see a recipe in a cookbook, is the rustic, open-faced pie filled with sweet or savory fillings.

There are also, according to Spoon University, the galette comtoise and galette de rois. The galette comtoise, also called a bisotine pancake, is a thick, semi-sweet, bread-like cake that is rumored to have inspired the development of brioche. Finally, the galette de rois is one of France's most cherished desserts. Built out of puff pastry and filled with frangipane — a sweet almond paste — this elegant cake was first introduced to celebrate the Catholic holiday of Epiphany. Regardless of the variety of galettes chosen for whatever occasion, they all share the basic definition of flat and open. And they all happen to be delicious, so you really can't go wrong whichever variety you choose.