Rustic French Apple Tart

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Rustic French Apple Tart

Like an apple pie without the pan, this French apple tart consists of a thin layer of cinnamon-scented apples atop a buttery, flaky crust.

rustic french apple tart

When we think of French desserts, we usually imagine fancy pâtisseries with pyramids of pastel-colored macarons and glossy fruit tarts. But when the French bake at home, they keep it simple. One of my favorite food writers, Dorie Greenspan, wrote of her time living in France: “No matter how chic the hostess, her homemade dessert invariably looked as rustic as if it had come from a farmhouse grand-mère.”

The recipes are often centuries old and passed down through the generations. In fact, the recipes are so tried and true, she writes, “many French women make them without recipes, or au pif.” This free-form French apple tart is something the French might throw together au pif, or by feel. Like an apple pie without the pan, it consists of a thin layer of cinnamon-scented apples atop a buttery, flaky crust.

I know the mere mention of a homemade pastry crust and rolling pin is enough to send some people running for the hills but, rest assured, this tart relies on a dough that’s virtually foolproof and easy to roll to out — and it comes together in a food processor in under a minute. And the beauty of a free-form tart is that you don’t have to fuss over crimping the dough into a pie plate: you simply fold it casually over the fruit. The charm of this dessert lies in its imperfections.

What you’ll need to make a french apple tart

Before we get to the recipe, a word of advice: you might be tempted to load up the tart with extra apples but, trust me, less is more with this type of dessert. The apples release quite a bit of juice, which can leak from the tart and make a mess of the crust and your oven.

Also, be sure to use apples suitable for baking — think Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonagolds, Jonathans, Golden Delicious, Gala, Honey Crisp, etc. — otherwise, they’ll turn into applesauce.

How to make a french apple tart

how to make rustic apple tart

Begin by making the pastry: In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Pulse briefly to combine, then add the pieces of cold butter.

how to make rustic apple tart

Process just until the butter is the size of peas, about 5 seconds.

how to make rustic apple tart

Sprinkle the ice water over the mixture and process just until moistened and very crumbly, about 5 seconds.

how to make rustic apple tart

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.

how to make rustic apple tart

Knead a few times, just until it comes together into a cohesive ball.

how to make rustic apple tart

Pat the dough into a disk.

how to make rustic apple tart

Flour your work surface again and dust the dough with flour, as well. Using a rolling pin, roll into a circle 8 to 10 inches in diameter, turning and adding more flour as necessary so the dough doesn’t stick. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate while you prepare the filling (you’ll roll the dough out further on the parchment paper so go ahead and clean your work surface).

how to make rustic apple tart

To make the filling: Peel, core, and cut the apples into 1/8-inch-thick slices (you should have about 4 cups) and place in a large bowl. Add the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, melted butter, and salt.

how to make rustic apple tart

Toss to combine.

how to make rustic apple tart

Take the dough from the fridge and slide the parchment paper onto the countertop. Roll the dough, directly on the parchment paper, into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. It’s fine if the edges are a little ragged.

how to make rustic apple tart

Place the parchment and dough back on the baking sheet – the pastry should curve up the lip of the pan.

how to make rustic apple tart

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour evenly over the pastry.

how to make rustic apple tart

Arrange the apple slices on top in overlapping concentric circles to within 3 inches of the edge. Don’t worry about making it look perfect! It doesn’t make much difference in the end and you don’t want the dough to get too warm.

how to make rustic apple tart

Fold the edges of the dough over the apples in a free-form fashion, working your way around and creating pleats as you go. Patch up any tears by pinching a bit of dough from the edge.

how to make rustic apple tart

Using a pastry brush, brush the pleated dough evenly with the beaten egg.

how to make rustic apple tart

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the turbinado sugar over the top crust and 1 tablespoon over the fruit. Then chill the assembled tart in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes while you preheat the oven.

how to make rustic apple tart

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the crust is golden and cooked through. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool. While the tart cools, make the optional glaze: mix the apricot jam with 1-1/2 teaspoons water in a small bowl. Heat in the microwave until bubbling, about 20 seconds. Then, using a pastry brush, brush the apples with the apricot syrup.

Use two large spatulas to transfer the tart to a serving plate or cutting board. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature. The tart is best served on the day it is made, but leftovers will keep, loosely covered on the countertop, for a few days.

rustic french apple tart

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Rustic French Apple Tart

Like an apple pie without the pan, this French apple tart consists of a thin layer of cinnamon-scented apples atop a buttery, flaky crust.

Servings: 8
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes, plus 20 minutes to chill

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup very cold water

For the Filling

  • 1-3/4 lbs baking apples (3 large)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For Assembling & Baking

  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apricot jelly or jam, optional for glaze

Instructions

  1. Make the crust: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Pulse briefly to combine. Add the cold butter and process just until the butter is the size of peas, about 5 seconds. Sprinkle the ice water over the mixture and process just until moistened and very crumbly, about 5 seconds. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times, just until it comes together into a cohesive ball. Pat the dough into a disk. Flour your work surface again and dust the dough with flour, as well. Using a rolling pin, roll into a circle 8 to 10 inches in diameter, turning and adding more flour as necessary so the dough doesn’t stick. Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate while you prepare the filling (you’ll roll the dough out further on the parchment paper so go ahead and clean your work surface).
  2. Make the Filling: Peel, core, and cut the apples into 1/8-inch-thick slices (you should have about 4 cups) and place in a large bowl. Add the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, melted butter, and salt; toss to combine.
  3. Take the dough from the fridge and slide the parchment paper onto the countertop. Roll the dough, directly on the parchment paper, into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. It’s fine if the edges are a little ragged. Place the parchment and dough back on the baking sheet – the pastry should curve up the lip of the pan.
  4. Assemble the tart: Sprinkle the flour evenly over the pastry. Arrange the apple slices on top in overlapping concentric circles to within 3 inches of the edge. Don’t worry about making it look perfect! It doesn’t make much difference in the end and you don’t want the dough to get too warm. Fold the edges of the dough over the apples in a free-form fashion, working your way around and creating pleats as you go. Patch up any tears by pinching a bit of dough from the edge.
  5. Using a pastry brush, brush the pleated dough evenly with the beaten egg. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the turbinado sugar over the top crust and 1 tablespoon over the fruit. Chill the assembled tart in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the center position.
  7. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the crust is golden and cooked through. (It’s okay if some of the juices leak from the tart onto the pan. The juices will burn on the pan but the tart should be fine -- just scrape any burnt bits away from the tart once it’s baked.) Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool.
  8. While the tart cools, make the optional glaze. In a small bowl, mix the apricot jam with 1-1/2 teaspoons water. Heat in the microwave until bubbling, about 20 seconds. Using a pastry brush, brush the apples with the apricot syrup.
  9. Use two large spatulas to transfer the tart to a serving plate or cutting board. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature. The tart is best served on the day it is made, but leftovers will keep, loosely covered on the countertop, for a few days.
  10. Make Ahead: The dough can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated. Allow it to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or until pliable before rolling.
  11. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The assembled tart may be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze, place the baking sheet in the freezer until the tart is frozen, then wrap tightly. (Wait until right before baking the tart to brush the beaten egg and sprinkle the sugar onto the crust.) Bake directly from the freezer. (It may take a few extra minutes to bake from frozen.)

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 392
  • Fat: 21 g
  • Saturated fat: 13 g
  • Carbohydrates: 49 g
  • Sugar: 26 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Sodium: 195 mg
  • Cholesterol: 73 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Although I love to bake, I normally avoid pastry as I’ve never managed to make a great pie crust. However, I’ve baked this twice now, and it’s delicious and so easy! The buttery pastry is particularly delectable. I note that I don’t have nearly enough patience to neatly arrange all the apple slices, so I just dumped them in a heap in the middle, and it still looked beautiful.

    • — Jen M on January 25, 2021
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  • This is a delicious apple dessert and a nice alternative to an apple pie! The pastry is wonderful. I substituted two tablespoons of the sugar for maple syrup in the apple filling. The recipe is in my favourites section :))

    • — Mary Sherwin on January 24, 2021
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  • So easy and delicious..may never use a pie dish again!!

    • — Annette on January 22, 2021
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  • Made this today and my picky kids loved it! So delicious!!!

    • — Lulu on January 20, 2021
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  • I made this the other day, and my whole picky family loved it. Food processor (I have a first generation Ninja) and parchment paper make the crust such an easy thing (I usually hate making crust lol). Thanks for the recipe!

    • — Becky on January 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe was so simple to make and so yummy! I didn’t use the preserves instead I made fresh whipped topping to top it off with. This recipe was a lot faster to make than a pie and just delicious.

    • — Anne Strain on January 5, 2021
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  • First time making this recipe and my husband – who doesn’t generally like anything with cinnamon – loved it! He said it was the best apple pie he’d ever had and it’s certainly in my top 3!!

    • — Jen on January 3, 2021
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  • I made this, but I just lacked the patience to arrange the apples, so I just dumped them in the middle! It didn’t make any difference in how good it was, however.

    • — Ann on January 1, 2021
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  • I’ve mad this a few times and my family and I absolutely love it! Comes out perfectly (touch wood for next time) each time and I can’t wait to make it again! Really easy recipe to follow and amazing results! Just a quick question – a family member has recently become vegan so I was wondering how one might be able to adapt this recipe to make it vegan friendly (if possible)? Thank you! I also tried this with pears and worked really well – delicious!

    • — Bella on January 1, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like this! I think you could adapt this to make it vegan by using either margarine or coconut oil in place of the butter.

      • — Jenn on January 5, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this yesterday and used dough left over from pies I made recently. I also used cherry preserves because that is what I had on hand. This tart recipe made a delicious apple tart. It looked just as good as your pictures and tasted wonderful. The cherry preserves were the same brand as the apricot preserves you used. I like the real sugar in them.

    • — Susan B on December 31, 2020
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  • This has become one of our favorites! Thank you!

    • — Mary Roth on December 29, 2020
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  • I’ve made this twice. Instead of rolling out the dough, I popped the dough disc into the fridge for 30-60 min. While it’s in the fridge, I prep the apples, then roll out the dough and lay the apples down onto the pastry. I then freeze it. I also found it helpful when brushing the egg wash onto the pastry to just do a portion then immediately sprinkle the turbinado sugar, brush and sprinkle sugar until complete. This helps with the sugar sticking to the pastry.

    Overall, this is stellar dessert. Going to keep in my rotation for special occasions!

    Jen, you make me look like a pro chef!

    • — Susan on December 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • My second try at this recipe fared much better than the first by mixing the apple slices and dry ingredients first and then next adding in the vanilla extract. The melted butter was added last, by pouring over the apple slices after they were placed on top of the pastry dough.

    • — Lori on December 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made this on Christmas for the first time, a simple yet elegant end to a nice meal. Whenever I use a recipe for the first time I follow it to the letter, unless there is some glaring error, and in subsequent iterations I may add/subtract/modify things to suit my personal tastes. In this case, I’d not change a thing, this is excellent. I used Cortlands, but I’m sure other baking apples result in an outstanding tart as well. The apricot syrup provides a delightful sheen and a lovely tart contrast to the sweetness of the apples. Will definitely make this again.

    • — Mark Meyers on December 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made this for Christmas and it was yummy! I liked the texture of the crust. The flavor of the filling was simple and tasty. I did get a soggy bottom from the crust breaking- probably my fault. Also, I had prepared it ahead of time and froze it to save time on Christmas. It cooked while we ate dinner- great idea

    • — Bebhinn on December 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was delicious. I made it on Christmas Eve to serve on Christmas. I left it on the counter wrapped in parchment paper. I added a bit of almond paste to the the tart because I like it but it definitely didn’t need it and next time I will either leave out the almond paste or reduce the sugar. But no complaints. Crust was amazing, it looked beautiful and it was just perfect. Thank you!!

    • — Caitlin on December 26, 2020
    • Reply
    • I made this for Christmas this year. It was delicious and everyone loved it! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

      • — Sandy on December 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • Delicious, beautiful recipe! It looks lovely and tastes amazing! Many thanks for your thorough and easy to follow instructions.

    Happy holidays!

    • — Be on December 25, 2020
    • Reply
  • Delicious! This recipe has become a favorite in our house. I’ve made it twice and both times, I have received amazing reviews. Thank you, Jenn!

    • — Mary B. on December 22, 2020
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  • Nice recipe but no baking temperature was provided.

    • — Laurie on December 20, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Laurie, it should be baked at 350°F/175°C. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on December 21, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made this again today and stacked the apples the way the picture shows and it was a thing of beauty when it came out of the oven. The crust always is the star of the show – hence, using all butter. Just an anecdote – I follow someone on instagram who posted a picture of two little girls, one asks the other “do you pray before you eat?” The other replies “non, we are French, we know how to cook”. Jenn, you definitely know how to cook.

    • — Marilyn Segal on December 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on December 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • How can anything that has a stick of butter be good? I just can’t picture putting it in my mouth. An abuse to your body

    • — Gustavo Sarmiento on December 13, 2020
    • Reply
    • So did you actually make this, or are you just inserting your opinions here? We all make choices concerning what we eat, and if you personally don’t like butter, well that’s just fine, but I’m not sure this is the forum to discuss the merits of using particular ingredients. There are loads of cooking and baking websites to accommodate food sensitivities, allergies and the like, which might better serve you.

      • — Mark Meyers on December 24, 2020
      • Reply
  • Awesome. Family loved it. Thank you

    • — Kari on December 13, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made this for my friend Lisa’s birthday! It was easy and turned out great! Just like the recipe which seems to never happen….everyone loved it!

    • — Liz Miller on December 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made this for my family. My brother said it was one of his favorite desserts he’s had and asked me to make it again the following week. It came out delicious and beautiful. It was amazing how easy it was to make.

    • — Boravy on December 3, 2020
    • Reply
    • Made this tart. Super easy amd delicious.Didnot have a food processor, so i used forks to incorporate the butter. Added some walnuts to the filling. I didnot put any of the liquid from the apples into the pastry. I couldnot find turbinado sugar so i substitute light brown sugar, it worked out great. I made two, just doubled the recipe and both went in 1 night. Will definitely make again.

      • — Tamara Johnson on December 7, 2020
      • Reply
  • This was fabulous! Will definitely be my go to for galettes.

    Do you think this crust would freeze well? Or be good as a two crust pie? It’s the best crust I’ve ever made. Butter sure is great.

    • — Kathy on December 3, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathy, Glad you enjoyed it! Yes, you can freeze either the dough or the assembled tart. See the bottom of the recipe for freezer-friendly instructions. And I think you could use this for a pie but I do have an apple pie recipe that you can check out here.

      • — Jenn on December 4, 2020
      • Reply
  • Nice pastry technique, just not sure if the food processor was necessary. Taste was meh. I thought it needed more cinnamon and sugar. Too much juice from apples spilled out, messy. Perhaps this was my fault because I prepped the apples the night before and noticed lots of liquid in the bowl, but I strained all of it before adding to the dough, but still had way too much juice.

    • — Lora on November 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • Perfection! So,so good! I like this over my apple pie. It’s easier than an apple pie too.

    • — Happy baker on November 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made this for Thanksgiving. Turned out wonderfully. Nice buttery flakey crust. I did add more cinnamon because we love it. Didn’t have a food processor so did it old school style with a pastry blender. Home run!!!

    • — Natalie S on November 26, 2020
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  • I made this apple tart for Thanksgiving, and it went over very well! I didn’t have a food processor, so I used Bon Appetit’s adjustment for making a pie crust by hand.

    • — Sam on November 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made this today. It is delicious. I don’t bake and I’m so impressed with the crust. I made it 3 days in advance and held my breath as I rolled it out. Everything fell into place. Your recipe was well written and easy to follow. Thanks Jenn. Fantastic recipe.

    • — Jude on November 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Amazing Thanksgiving dessert! The apricot preserves sends it over the top! Thank you for another incredible recipe. 😊

    • — Bev Proffitt on November 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • I loved the rich, crisp, buttery crust. I made this tart to serve something different than traditional apple pie. It was delicious! It is a keeper for my recipe box.

    • — Mama Nana on November 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • BEAUTIFUL CRUST!

    I did this exactly as directed and let the dough chill overnight. What a perfectly flaky crust and the filling was sweet and tart. I paired it with home made frozen custard.

    • — Aisa Trevino on November 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • A+! This was absolutely delicious and honestly pretty easy to make. Not a big baked apple person but I would definitely make this again. The crust was so crispy and buttery! I used Granny Smith apples and it complimented the sweetness perfectly. Also I mixed the butter into the flour with my hands 🤫 bc my mixer wouldn’t mix it like pictured.

    • — Azra on November 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Very easy and delicious came out great

    • — Nina on November 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Followed recipe exactly as written. Delicious! Crust was very easy to work with. Finished tart looks like it came from a bakery. Beautiful! Husband said, “This is better than pie.” Thanks for the recipe!

    • — Jenny on November 25, 2020
    • Reply
  • I know this’ll probably get me expelled from your site, but could I use pre-made crust? Also, could I add some bourbon or rum…? Thank you for sharing your gifts and talent! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • — Laurie Hoffman on November 25, 2020
    • Reply
    • LOL! You can definitely use a pre-made crust but the taste and texture won’t be quite the same. This crust is not your typical pie crust — it has A LOT of butter in it. As for the booze, I think you could 1-2 tablespoons. Any more and the crust will get soggy. Hope that helps and happy Thanksgiving!

      • — Jenn on November 25, 2020
      • Reply
    • Laurie, I recommend using two pre-made pie crusts, one stacked on top of the other and rolled together for extra protection against spillover. You can even offset the top one slightly and roll out for a slightly larger circle. I’ve done this and it works beautifully. Happy Thanksgiving!

      • — Erika Jennings on November 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • I have made this recipe many times, everybody absolutely loves it! The crust is perfect and the apples are tender and delicious ! I never get tired of making it all over again!

    • — Xochitl on November 24, 2020
    • Reply

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