This apple tart is as simple as it is stunning. It’s also easy, rustic, classic French, and, quite frankly, the best. A departure from typical apple pie, it boasts a subtle sweetness that doesn’t get in the way of the tartly sweet apple flavor.
This rustic apple tart recipe is just…wow. But don’t let that photo fool you. If you’re thinking, “Oh, it’s so beautiful, I can’t possibly make that…”, stop right there. If you can peel and slice apples, you can make this apple tart. It’s as simple to put together as it is stunning. The true beauty, though, of this classic French dessert is its delicate taste, which is pure apple. No cinnamon. No indecent amount of sugar. No spice. And for some of us, that’s quite nice.–Renee Schettler Rossi
- 11- or 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom
For the pastry
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the pan and work surface
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter cold and cut into cubes, plus more for the pan
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 to 6 tablespoons cold water
For the apple purée
- 3 about 1 3/4 lbs apples of any variety peeled, cored, and diced
- 1 vanilla pod split lengthways
- 2 to 4 tablespoons superfine sugar (or just blitz granulated sugar in a blender until finely ground but not powdery)
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
For the apple tart
- 3 apples preferably Golden Delicious or other not-too-sweet, not-too-tart apples
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- Cold light cream or half-and-half to serve
Make the pastry
- Place the flour, sugar, butter, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is just combined (somewhere between 5 and 10 pulses). Add 4 tablespoons water and pulse just until the dough holds together. If necessary, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse just until the dough begins to clump. Wrap the dough in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Let the dough rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Butter and lightly flour an 11- or 10-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom.
- Roll out the pastry dough on a lightly floured work surface to a circle slightly larger than the prepared tart pan. Transfer the dough to the pan, gently pressing the dough into the edges, and trim the edges by running a rolling pin over the top of the tart pan, using the edge of the pan as a cutting surface. Let the excess pastry fall away. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until firm.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
- Prick the pastry base all over with the tines of a fork. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill it with baking weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment and weights, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until golden. Let cool to room temperature.
Make the apple purée
- Place the diced apples, vanilla pod, sugar, butter, and 3 tablespoons water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook gently, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the apples are softened, adding more water if necessary to keep the apples from scorching. Remove the vanilla pod and use the tip of a small sharp knife to scrape the vanilla seeds directly into the mixture. Discard the pod. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and purée until smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
Assemble the apple tart
- Spread the apple purée evenly over the pastry. Peel, core, and slice the apples 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Arrange the apple slices in a neat circle around the edge; they should be slightly overlapping. Repeat to create an inner circle, trimming the slices slightly so that they fit, going in the opposite direction from the outer circle. Brush the apples with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 25 to 45 minutes, until the apples are just tender and very lightly browned. (The dramatic difference in timing depends on the thickness and the type of apples you choose. If the apples haven’t browned by the time they’re tender, run the tart under the broiler for a minute or so.)
- Let the tart cool slightly. Remove the sides of the pan and slice and serve the tart warm with cream or half-and-half.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is a humble but attractive and very tasty apple tart. The sweet pastry dough makes a nice crust. I used some local Quite apples that have just come into season. The apple and vanilla purée makes a mellow background for the thinly sliced apples. We found it took close to the 20-minute mark for the tart to be done and another 2 minutes, closer to the top of the oven, for the apples to brown properly. This tart isn’t overly sweet but does allow the natural tartness of the apples to shine through. The vanilla in the purée provides a mellow overtone to the apple taste. All in all, a very pleasant tart my family would be happy to have again. Next time, I’ll take the suggestion of one of my tasters and add a little cinnamon to the sugar on top before baking to give it a little more oomph.
This delicious apple tart is all about preserving the flavor of the apple. It’s subtly sweet, very fresh tasting, and not overly rich—you can have a generous slice after dinner and it won’t push you over the edge. The thin crust did not get soggy at all from the apple purée, and it slices nicely when serving the tart. Don’t worry if the crust tears when you’re lining the pan with it—use up the excess pastry to fill the cracks and holes. Golden Delicious apples were wonderful for both the purée and the slices. I cut my apples into 1/4-inch slices (I used 48 slices) and found they were too thick. The slices were still quite firm and pale after 25 minutes of baking, and it was hard to cut with a fork when eating the very elegant tart, creating a bit of a mess on the plate. I will try 1/8-inch slices next time (yes, I will definitely make this again). If you want your tart to have a little shine, brush the top surface of the cooled tart with apricot glaze.
I was immediately drawn to this apple tart recipe because of its simplicity. Fresh fruit, butter, sugar, and vanilla. Whereas many tarts are embellished with highly spiced fillings or topped with sticky, overly sweet glazes, this tart shines due to its purity. The dough for the shell came together effortlessly using 3 tablespoons superfine sugar and 3 tablespoons water. After a 30-minute rest in the fridge, it rolled out smoothly and blind baked with hardly any shrinkage at all. I used two types of apples when constructing this beauty—Fujis for the puréed filling and Braeburns sliced on top—and I can tell you that as good as the finished tart was, the filling alone is worth the price of admission here. In fact, the vanilla-perfumed purée may become my go-to applesauce from here on out. It’s awesome.
I was a little concerned when laying out the tart that there wasn’t quite enough purée for an 11-inch shell, but in the end the tart achieved a perfect balance of buttery crust, silky smooth purée, and tart-sweet, slightly firm, sliced apple topping. After 35 minutes, I lost patience and flipped on my broiler just long enough to brulée the apple slices along their edges—a beautiful sight to see. Do serve this warm with unsweetened, lightly whipped cream, and bask in its pure, simple flavors.
The sweet pastry dough was a cinch to put together and rolled out easily. For the apple purée I used Fuji apples. I used only 2 tablespoons sugar and 4 tablespoons water. It took the full 15 minutes to cook until softened, but I think the type of apple chosen would affect cooking time here. I let it cool quite a bit before processing the mixture. I used Golden Delicious for the topping. I finally removed it from the oven after 45 minutes and the apples were lightly browned and just tender. We liked the fact that this tart wasn’t too sweet. And the purée was a nice way to construct the tart. But the tart looked naked to me. The butter and sugar topping didn’t turn into any kind of glaze. I’ll probably try this again and give it a little glaze of melted jelly.
Originally published November 12, 2017