09/05/2020, Cazères (Haute-Garonne)-Loudenvielle (Hautes-Pyrénées)
The Tour de France arrived in the Pyrenees mountains, in the region of Bigorre, an area known for its miracles (Lourdes), its rugby teams (Lourdes again, Tarbes, Bagnères) and its pastries (the spit cake, brought by Napoleon’s soldiers back from the Grande Armée’s campaigns in Eastern Europe, the croustade also named pastis). The opportunity for me to add a dessert to my Tour de France 2020 menu, in particular after a rich cassoulet yesterday. Both desserts, croustade and spit cake, are both challenging pastries, at least for a non-baker for me. As the spit cake requires some equipment, I opted for the croustade, which is by the way not the lightest dessert on earth as it is, like would like, the Pyrenees version of the Kouign-Amman or of the Baklava: sugar, butter, Armagnac… with some apples.
The main, and only, difficulty is to make a supple and elastic enough dough, so that you can stretch it from a big base-ball sphere to a 8, 10 or 12 square feet sheet as thin as cigarette paper!!! In hindsight, it was very much easier that I thought, even for “big fingers” like me, and encourage you to try it if you never did. Extremely rewarding and definitively a WOW pie!
* During the Tour de France, combining two of my passions, biking and cooking, I will try to present (almost) every day a recipe from ) the route followed by the peloton.
Here is the detailed recipe, with pictures illustrating each step of the process:
Levels of difficulty
Ingredients 4 servings
For the dough:
§ At least 400 g T55 flour (to adjust depending on the conditions… and the size of your table, see below)
§ 25 cl of water
§ 1 tbsp. of sunflower or other neutral oil
§ About 15 cl of sunflower or other neutral oil
§ 1 egg
For the filling:
§ 2 Golden apples
§ 7 cl of Armagnac*
§ 120 g of sugar
§ 100 g of melted butter
§ … a big enough old, but clean, softener-free tablecloth or bed sheet
§ … and a hair-dryer!
* or Cognac if you cannot find Armagnac
§ In a bowl, break the egg, add the water, a good pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon of oil then integrate the flour progressively, stirring with a whisk, then with a wooden spoon and finally by hand as the dough thickens.
§ Knead it by hand during a long time to give it elasticity, then fold it and beat it repetitively with a rolling pin to give it suppleness.
§ Place the dough in a freezing bag, add 15 cl of oil, fold the bag and let it rest overnight or at least for 4/5 hours in the fridge.
§ Cut them into thin slices and drizzle them generously with Armagnac, stir and let macerate overnight or at least for 4/5 hours in the fridge as well.
§ At the end of the resting/macerating time, cover a big enough table (in my case, a rectangular 4’x2’table, adjust the quantity of dough ingredients if you have a bigger table) with the bed sheet or tablecloth. Flour it lightly and place the dough in the center of the table.
§ Stretch it gradually and very progressively towards the edges, avoiding to “puncture” it. An important tip consists in regularly lifting up the dough off the sheet to facilitate the stretching.
§ When the whole table is covered, let the dough dry for 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on temperature and humidity or use a hairdryer (my choice, it is quicker) to dry it, including from underneath by lifting up the sheet/tablecloth.
§ Drizzle melted butter all over the dried dough, possibly using a brush to help spreading it over.
§ Sprinkle sugar all over the buttered dough (keeping a handful of sugar to mix with the apple slices).
§ Remove with scissors the hanging thickest edges that would not bake crispy.
§ Butter a round pie pan/mold pan.
§ Draw circles slightly larger than the size of the mold with a thin-bladed knife and place 5 or 6 circles in the bottom of the mold.
§ Spread the apples on top, then cover with 5 or 6 circles, and add the trims as a “chiffonade” on top to give volume and crispiness.
§ Bake at 400 for around 30 minutes.
§ Drizzle the apple Armagnac “marinade” on top.
§ Serve lukewarm… with a shot of Armagnac!
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