This French apple tart is incredibly crisp on the outside (the result of the dusting of sugar between the filo layers), yet wonderfully soft and boozy on the inside. You can make it a day ahead and reheat before serving. Quince, combined with apple, makes for a delicious twist, if you’re looking for one. The marzipan isn’t traditional, but tastes spectacular and makes total sense in a Christmas setting.
1 hr 40 min
For the filling
2 small pink lady apples, peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1cm slices (200g net weight)
2 small granny smith apples, peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1cm slices (200g net weight)
50g soft pitted prunes, cut into 1cm pieces
70g marzipan, cut into 1cm pieces
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp caster sugar
12 sheets filo pastry (250g packet)
80g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp Armagnac
10g icing sugar, for dusting
180g creme fraiche, to serve
Heat the oven to 180C (170C fan)/375F/ gas 5 and put a rack in the lower third of the oven. Use a little melted butter to grease the base and sides of a 26cm x 4cm tart tin with a removable base. Cut a 42cm x 6cm strip of baking paper and lay it in the base of the tin so it hangs over the edges on each side (you’ll use this to lift out the tart later). In a medium bowl, toss all the filling ingredients.
Put the filo sheets under a slightly damp, clean cloth to stop them drying out, then brush one sheet with some of the melted butter and sprinkle with a teaspoon and a half of sugar. Transfer to the tin, pressing the sheet into the base and sides so it fits snugly; let any excess hang over the sides. Repeat this process with five more sheets of filo, rotating them slightly when you press them into the tin, so the excess hangs out at a different angle.
Fill the filo case evenly with the apple mix, then fold over the excess filo to cover the edges of the tart.
Take another sheet of filo, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with a teaspoon and a half of sugar. Roughly scrunch it up like a tissue, then arrange on top of the exposed apples. Repeat with the remaining five sheets of filo, to cover the apples, building height as you go.
Put the tin on an oven tray and bake for an hour and 15 minutes, turning once halfway, until well browned and caramelised; if it colours too quickly, turn down the heat to 170C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4 halfway through baking. Immediately release and remove the sides of the tin and, using the baking paper “sling”, carefully lift and slide the pastis on to a platter. If serving straight away, pour over the armagnac, dust with icing sugar and serve hot or warm with the creme fraiche alongside.
If you’re making the pastis a day in advance, it can be reheated: unmould back on to the lined baking tray and bake at 190C (180C fan)/390F/ gas 6 for 10-12 minutes. Hold back on the armagnac and icing sugar until you’re ready to serve.