Prune and Apple Croustade
- serves 8
1 cup prunes
⅓ cup Armagnac
4 baking apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
4 to 6 tablespoons butter, melted
4 to 6 tablespoons sugar
6 to 8 sheets, phyllo pastry
1. Soak the prunes in Armagnac overnight (or use preserved prunes in Armagnac from a shop, which have even more flavour because they’ll have macerated longer). Drain, pit, and roughly chop, reserving the liquid.
2. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a sauté pan and cook the apples until soft, about five minutes. Sprinkle over 2 to 3 tablespoons of the sugar and continue cooking to caramelize, about 10 minutes more. Pour on about a tablespoon of the reserved Armagnac, flame, and boil until the flames die out and the liquid has disappeared. Remove from the heat and taste. Depending on your apples, the mixture may need more acidity. If it does, add a squirt of lemon to taste. Stir through the chopped prunes.
3. Heat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Set the ring part of an 8-inch/20 cm spring-form pan on a baking sheet. Prepare the pastry, working with one sheet at a time, as follows: lay one sheet of phyllo on a clean surface and cut into three strips crosswise (not lengthwise). Brush one of the three strips with melted butter, sprinkle with a little sugar and a few drops of Armagnac. Lay another strip on top and repeat. Lay the final strip on top and brush with butter. Your single sheet of phyllo is now a three-layer-thick strip. Lay it in the ring mould like the spoke of a wheel, so that it runs from the middle out, and up and over the edge of the ring. Continue with the remaining strips, laying them in around the ring slightly overlapping so that there are no openings.
4. Spoon the prune and apple filling into the bottom of the mould. Fold the pastry strips up in over top, twisting somewhat as you go so that the top is a rustic landscape of papery peaks and valleys totally covering the top of the tart. Brush quite generously with butter and scatter over a scant handful of sugar. (You may have some butter and sugar left over once you’re done. If you do, use them for something else. The same goes for the Armagnac, of which you will have a lot left: use it in fruit salad or let a piece of pound cake drink it up…or serve it in tiny glasses with dessert.)
5. Remove the spring-form ring, leaving the formed galette on the baking sheet. Bake until the pastry is fully cooked and golden, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, slide onto rack, and cool to lukewarm. Serve with ice cream on the side or all on its own.