The tale of the tourtière landaise
A tourtière (pie) is also called apple “croustade” (crusty pastry), Gascon “pastis” or more basically, apple tart. It is an apple cake which first originated in the Landes de Gascogne.
Its origin can be traced back to Ancient Rome where it was called “crustata”, in Latin.
It is a cake with a host of fine layers of buttery, sugary pastry. Legend has it that the pastry should be spread so finely as possible so that it is totally transparent. This is why this pastry is also known as “bride’s veil”. The cake is then cooked in the oven.
Nowadays, to simplify the recipe, it is common to add a layer of apples and/or prunes as garnish and to include alcohol: the famous Armagnac!
Traditional tourtière landaise celebrations
Tourtière landaise is the focus of two traditional celebrations in the South West of France, in particular near Agen in the Lot and Garonne Valleys.
Every year, on the second Sunday of July, in Penne-d'Agenais (located 30 kms north of Agen), a competition for the best tourtière is organized. The winning cake is then presented to the crowd by the village folk group: the "Tourtiérayres".
A second traditional tourtière celebration takes place every year in August in Tournon-d'Agenais, 40 kms from Agen.
Tourtière Landaise recipe
Pastry preparation: 40’
Baking: 45’ (th.6)
500 g flour
1 pinch of salt diluted in 1 glass of water
125 g melted butter
200 g caster sugar
1 sachet of vanilla sugar
1/2 cup of Armagnac
3 apples sliced very finely.
In a pie dish, mix and knead all the ingredients until you obtain soft, non-sticky pastry without lumps.
Roll into a ball and knead it for about ½ h to loosen it. Leave it to sit in the fridge for at least 1 h, coated with oil to prevent it from drying out.
Roll it out (with a rolling pin) on white linen (traditionally a sheet), stretch the pastry using fingertips – a bit like a pizza cook would do – being careful to always start from the centre. The pastry must be fine like cigarette paper – the famous “bride’s veil” -, and should totally cover a large dining table sitting 6 to 8 people.
Leave to dry for 10 minutes then sprinkle with sugar and moisten with melted butter. To do this, use a brush. Then fold the pastry in 3 lengthwise. To fold the pastry, use the sheet underneath to help you.
Cut out 2 circles slightly bigger than the cake tin, which you have already buttered, to obtain 6 layers. Place the first 3 pastry layers in the tin.
Peel the apples and slice finely. Baste the apple slices with the sachet of vanilla sugar and Armagnac. Mix well.
Garnish the tin with the Armagnac-flavoured apples, then cover this garnish with the other 3 layers of pastry.
For a delightful end result, scrunch the top layer before drizzling it with melted butter, sugar and Armagnac. Cook in a hot oven for 45 minutes.
If you’re not brave enough to try out the recipe at home, then head off to the Landes to taste some!
Our favourite addresses for a delicious tourtière landaise:
La Tourtière Landaise
Avenue du Tursan
Le pâtissier Gascon
20 rue du Treize Juin,
40800 AIRE SUR ADOUR
Boulangerie Pierre Labat
4 Place du Chêne Rond
Michelle&Simon ORGANIC Tourtière des Landes
425 Avenue du Maréchal Lyautey
Tourtière making demonstration on Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday mornings at 10:30am (free) in July and August, booking required.