“This is a Gascon apple pie, and the amazing crust is so unbelievably thin that locals call it a ‘wedding veil’ or ‘nun’s veil’. This spectacular pie keeps well for a day, or even two, and can be reheated. ”
Cooks In1 hour 10 minutes plus marinating overnight and cooling
1 kg apples , such as Golden Delicious or Chantecler
100 ml armagnac
55 g unsalted butter
12 sheets of filo pastry (270g)
115 g caster sugar , plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar or a few drops of vanilla extract
1 small sprig of fresh rosemary
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By Caroline Conran
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Peel, core and quarter the apples, then thinly slice and place into a bowl. Pour over the armagnac, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5. Melt the butter, then use a little to brush a loose-based 25cm round flan tin.
Brush a sheet of pastry with the butter and lay it over the bottom of the tin, draping the excess over the sides.
Sprinkle over ½ teaspoon of sugar. Brush a second pastry sheet with butter and lay it at right angles to the first, then sprinkle with sugar.
Repeat the process with more pastry sheets, laying each sheet diagonally, until you have 4 pastry sheets left.
Drain the apple slices, but not too thoroughly as the armagnac flavour is so good, then mix them in a bowl with the remaining sugar and the vanilla. Grate in the lemon zest, then pick and finely chop a few rosemary leaves and stir into the mixture.
Pile the apple slices into the flan tin and spread them out evenly.
Brush the remaining pastry sheets with butter and sprinkle with sugar, as before, then drape over the apples, butter-side down, with each sheet at right angles to the one before it.
Draw the overhanging ends lightly over the top of the pie and arrange them so they stick up as much as possible, like crumpled tissue paper. They should completely cover the top of the pie, forming a light and airy crust. Brush lightly with butter.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden, then very loosely cover with a sheet of tin foil. Cook for a further 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.
Allow it to cool slightly in the tin before transferring to a serving plate. If you feel nervous about doing this, serve it from the flan tin.