This mouth-watering French apple tart from the Midi-Pyrénées region is widely known as the "Croustade aux Pommes" or simply "Croustade". Whether flambeed with the Normandy Calvados or filled with apples and Armagnac-soaked prunes, this exquisite dessert from the gastronomy of Southern France is a perfect way to end off a Midi-Pyrénées-style meal!
The Croustade aux Pommes is a really popular dessert in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France, and especially for traditional gatherings in the Gers and Ariege departments. The particularity of this delicious typical dessert, often compared to the Alsace Apple Strudel, is that it actually boasts two recettes.
You can indeed find the Croustade aux Pommes as a country dessert of the Southwest of France, simply made of two puff pastries filled with apples (that have been flambeed with Armagnac) and oven baked for 40 minutes.
This type of apple tart is also named "Tourtiere" in the Tarn and the Landes or "Pastis" in the Quercy area and Perigord department of Midi-Pyrénées. The tourtiere must be served warm, when the filling is tenderized and the topping sugar caramelized. Its aroma of eau de vie makes the French dessert as just exquisite!
This easy-to-make Croustade in fact dates back to the Middle Ages, originally made with Normandy's apples and Calvados liqueur. The French recipe has become a common convivial dish to end off a robust meal in the Southern region, shaped according to the custom of the department.
But this traditional recipe can be turned into a more gastronomic version which requires much expertise and time! The gourmet Croustade looks like a delicate, airy eruption of thin crispy petals of dough.
The traditional recette de Croustade consists in "lightly brushing every paper-thin sheet of pastry with melted butter, yolk or goose fat and filling with warm, sweetened and flambeed fruits".
The recipe of this Midi-Pyrénées speciality consists in stacking thin sheets of a hand-pulled, strudel-like dough, but nowadays modern Chefs often use filo dough to go faster!
Layers of buttered and sugared sheets of filo are topped with sugared apples flambeed with Armagnac. Two other crumpled, buttered and sugared filo sheets come to cover the fruits before baking the preparation.
The secret for a shiny, golden brown topping is to dust the Midi-Pyrénées Croustade with caster sugar and put it back into the oven for a few minutes.
The French term of "croustade" derives from the Provençal word "croustado" to mean "crust".
It now refers to many types of dishes of the French gastronomy, calling for a crisp shell (of puff pastry or potatoes for example) in which to cook fruits, meat or fish.