Apples are one of my favorite fruits – especially when it’s apple season (aka, right now). I’ll go through a bag of apples really quickly, either throwing them into smoothies or eating them as snacks. But it has happened on occasion where I forget that I have them on hand (don’t ask, I have no idea how it happens either) and then I check the fruit basket, and the apples look a little sad. I don’t usually bake, but when this happens, I immediately cook the apples into some kind of fruit topping for my oatmeal, or do some kind of tart or pie. Tarte tatin is my favorite go-to recipe for apples, but today’s recipe is the result of a perfect storm of extra apples and extra phyllo dough (left over from last week’s borek we made with our neighbors).
Tourtière is a dessert that hails from Gascogne, in the Southwest of France. It is easily recognized by the flaky shards of thin crust poking up from its base, much like a crown, with a filling of some sort of fruit. Obviously, we’re using apples today, but this is sometimes done with prunes (another French favorite). Embrace the butter here – it helps make the dish crispy and beautiful!
Tourtière aux Pommes
10 tbsp. salted butter + extra for greasing
1⁄2 cup plus 4 tsp. granulated sugar
6 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges (I used a mix of Gala and Granny Smith)
1⁄3 cup Calvados or Armagnac (substitute another brandy if you like)
7 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted
You will also need: a 10″ springform pan, a pastry brush
Toss the apples in the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Melt 4 tbsp. butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat then add the sugar-coated apples; cook, stirring occasionally. When apples are slightly caramelized, remove pan from heat and add brandy; carefully ignite with a match. Return to heat and cook until flames subside and liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes; let cool.
Heat oven to 425°. Grease a 10″ springform pan with butter; set aside. Melt remaining butter in a 1-qt. saucepan; keep warm. Lay 1 sheet phyllo on a work surface; brush with some melted butter and sprinkle with 1 tsp. granulated sugar. Fit into prepared pan, allowing corners of dough to hang over edges. Repeat with 3 more sheets of phyllo, laying each sheet at a 45° turn from the last. Spread apples over dough in an even layer. Cut remaining sheets of phyllo in quarters, and, working with 1 piece at a time, pinch at the center and flip over, so that the corners are pulled together and facing up and the result looks very crinkled; place over top of tart. Repeat with remaining pieces phyllo until top of tart is covered. Make sure all exposed edges are coated with remaining melted butter; bake until golden and crisp, about 30 minutes. Let tart cool completely in pan, then unmold and transfer to a platter to serve.