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 a French cook might throw together au pif. 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 is enough to send some people running for the hills but, rest assured, this tart dough is virtually foolproof and easy to roll to out — and it comes together in a food processor in under a minute. Plus, 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

  • I was looking for a recipe that was quick and easy to follow and your recipe was just that! I made mine with granny smith apples, brown sugar in the dough and raw cane sugar for the topping. Turned out perfect and we polished it off in a day! Thanks for sharing!

    • — Lien on April 5, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve been wanting to try an apple tart recipe. Happy to have found this one! It does not disappoint.

    • — Ana R. on March 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • The recipe creates the most flaky, buttery crust (no lard here)! This is so much easier to make than pie! I served it with a Maple Whipped Cream.

    • — Davina Ma on March 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • So easy and delicious!! My partner loved it, it didn’t even last for 24hours. This is definitely one of my favourite desserts to make. Bonus we live in New Zealand and we have our own apple tree in the backyard.

    • — Ralexa Basilio on March 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • I found this recipe while looking for something to do with 5 small tired older (a little wrinkely) Honey Crisp apples and made it and OMG it is fantastic! I didn’t put the egg, sugar topping nor apricot jam on it because we don’t need the extra calories. I also was pushed for time and didn’t “arrange ” the apples- I just dumped them on the dough and rolled up the edges but you know what- It still looks good because it’s RUSTIC! The crust melts in your mouth and the apples still had some firmness to them (go figure?!) I’ll definitely keep the recipe and make it again- next time it has to have vanilla ice-cream on top!

    • — Chris Akers on March 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Amazing! This was such a hit with my family, it didn’t last long at all. I’m making another one today for a little get together with a couple of friends. I don’t know how I’m going to keep the family from stealing a piece. I live in Arizona so I did have to use a bit more water to the dough but only a teaspoon. This is now a “go to” recipe for family and friends.

    • — Carol on March 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Delicious! This crust was easy to make and flaky. I only used 2T of water. I cut a sugar a bit as I always do, and used vegan butter for dairy allergy.. We all enjoyed it. My 11.5 year old I my taste tester. She gave it a 5.1/5 stars! Definitely will make it again!

    • — Lynda Taschek on March 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • What a delicious and beautiful treat! It turned out perfectly for us.

    • — Valerie on March 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • Love this recipe, thank you! The second one is in the oven. The first one I substituted berries for the apples, and by all accounts it was delicious (I didn’t get to taste it at ALL — it was gone when I got home…)

    Next time I will omit the sugar and make a rustic chicken pie instead. I am thinking to add some grated cheddar cheese and something spicy to the crust. Stay tuned…

    • — Alayne on March 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • It was absolutely divine… Thank you Jenn!! I definitely am going to follow you and your suggestions going forward…

    • — Alana on March 8, 2021
    • Reply
  • By far this was one of the BEST fruit desserts I’ve ever made! Not surprising since all of the Once Upon A Chef recipes have been pretty amazing!

    • — Linda on March 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • Is 350 degrees the correct temp for this tart. Mine wasn’t near
    done by then.. Had to bake it like 80 minuets.??? Just wondering.
    Seems not nearly hot enough for dough to bake. I usually
    bake pies at 380 degrees for 50 minuets !

    • — Trudy A Cooper on March 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes, that is correct. Did you make any adjustments to the recipe? Also, you may want to check your oven temp to see if it’s accurate. Here are some options for how to do it. Please LMK if I can help in any other way. 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • This recipe is sooo delicious! Used Granny Smith apples and followed the recipe as written. Served warm with French vanilla ice cream. My husband’s favorite ☘️

    • — Maggie on March 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jenn, I put half of a baked tart in the freezer. I’m wondering the best way to prepare it for serving?

    • — Nancy on March 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Nancy, I think I’d thaw it in the fridge and then reheat it briefly in a 300-degree oven to refresh a bit.

      • — Jenn on March 5, 2021
      • Reply
    • Love this recipe, thank you! The second one is in the oven. The first one I substituted berries for the apples, and by all accounts it was delicious (I didn’t get to taste it at ALL — it was gone when I got home…)

      Next time I will omit the sugar and make a rustic chicken pie instead. I am thinking to add some grated cheddar cheese and something spicy to the crust. Stay tuned….

      • — Alayne on March 10, 2021
      • Reply
  • I’ve made this five times since reading the recipe. We love it! I have found it’s often better when I heat it the second day because the apples [Honeycrisp] are just a tad softer.

    • — Dee on February 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this galette three times and I love it! The dough comes out flaky and I like how it folds over the fruit. I slightly reduce the sugar content on my version but it’s still sweet enough for me. I also use Granny Smith apples for their tartness. Five stars on this recipe!

    • — Claus on February 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made 3 different recipes for Apple Galette and this one is the one that I am going to use from now on. Your recipe is perfect. The step by step instructions with the pictures helped me to make it exactly as described.

    • — Catherine Handler on February 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious, another winner from Jenn!

    • — Ellen on February 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Greetings from Singapore! The tart came out exactly as your pics! However, the dough was a little soft, which I suspect it was because I used Lurpurk butter which is slightly softer. The pie was so good, so buttery and flakey and not so sweet! It was gone within minutes! Love your recipes so far. I have also made the french apple cake which is a hot fave amongst my friends! I’ve also just ordered your cook book from Amazon so can’t wait to lay my hands on it. Thanks for sharing your recipes and step by step pics along the way!

    • — Karen Tan on February 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on February 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • I absolutely love this French apple tart recipe! My family loves it, and I’ve made it about 10 times now. I’ve even given it as a gift to friends. The fresh dough is worth making. I don’t have a mixer, so I “pinch” the cold butter into the flour mixture until it’s like pea-sized, being careful not to over mix it. I also made little round apple tarts instead of one big one. This is now a family favorite! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

    • — Nancy Cunningham on February 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this for my boyfriend for Valentine’s day as apple tart is his favourite. First off, I hate apple tart, apple crumble, anything apple dessert-ish. But let me tell you something, I absolutely loved this tart! I cannot express how 10/10 this recipe is and with only a handful of ingredients, unbelievable!!

    • — Penelope Ingle on February 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi,
    I was wondering if it would be ok to prepare this dessert in advance, put it in the fridge and then bake at a later time?

    • — Jason on February 10, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jason, I would actually put it in the freezer if you want to assemble it in advance. You can put it in the oven directly from the freezer. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 11, 2021
      • Reply
  • The first tart I’ve ever made and the first apple based desert to boot. Really good recipe and the pictures are extremely helpful. I just wish that the units were translated into grams. Would make it much easier instead of having to translate it.

    • — Jack on February 10, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad you liked it Jack! The great majority of my recipes (including this one) include conversions to metric/weight measurements. To view them, scroll down to the recipe, and immediately under the recipe title on the right side, you’ll see a little toggle. If you move it from “cup measures” to metric, you’ll see measurements that will work for you.

      • — Jenn on February 10, 2021
      • Reply
  • Made this tart yesterday for super bowl dessert. I didn’t arrange the apples as beautifully
    as Jenn but it turned out great. Next time I might add a little more cinnamon.
    Everyone loved it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

    • — Leslie Richards on February 8, 2021
    • Reply
  • This tart was amazing! So fresh tasting and just beautiful to look at. Friends and family raved about it! Just a wonderful recipe all around.

    • — Rebecca on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • I am not a confident pastry baker, but you wouldn’t know it from the raves I got for this apple tart! So easy, and the amount of apples and sugar was perfect. Thanks, Jen! Thanks to you, I am becoming a more confident baker. I love to cook, but baking has always intimidated me. I’m working on it, with your help!

    • — Nancy R on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is my go to fall dessert. It’s not too sweet and is easy to make. I’ve never made from scratch dough before, but instructions were easy to follow and it turned out great!

    • — Lisa M on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is the perfect dessert for fall (or if you are missing fall flavors in January!) Made with honey crisp apples, skipped the apricot glaze, and it was devoured within 36 hours in our household! Like an apple pie but easier in that you don’t have to worry about the pie crust sinking in the pie dish or it turning out perfect. Would highly recommend and make again!

    • — Sean on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • Love this recipe. So easy and perfectly described. Thank you. I’ve even used ready made crust to save some time, and it still turned out delicious.

    • — Gracie P on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • Not only is it easier to make than apple pie but looks impressive. Delicious!

    • — Susan D on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Great recipe! Less fussy than making a tart shell and the rustic presentation is different. Baking it on parchment paper was a great trick Made it for my husband’s birthday and he loved it!

    • — Glen on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is a holiday go-to for me. A real crowd pleaser 🙂

    • — JENN BROWNLEE on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • this is soooooooooo delicious !!! love it….

    • — Karine Roussel on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Tried it and it tasted great, although I think I placed too many apples. Would try doing this again next time and follow the instructions to a tee (I know that baking is an exact science but I also like improvising and substituting ingredients).

    • — Sen R. on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Soooo yummy! I am not a great baker – got worried when the dough was really crumbly while rolling it out that I was doing it wrong. Buttttt I kept going and it looked BEAUTIFUL and smelled AMAZING coming out of the oven. Topped with vanilla whipped cream, perfection!

    • — Camilla on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • The BEST dessert EVER! So flakey and melt in your mouth delicious! I have made this for several special occasions, potlucks (ALWAYS first to be devoured), holidays. I don’t dare make this as an every day treat since we can’t resist how tempting eating all of it is. It truly is best on the day it is baked. That said, I have made the dough ahead to save time. I have found that the advice to not over stuff with extra apples is best heeded. I also LOVE how rustic it looks – it is a beautiful dessert! I have found that the type of apples make a big difference – I was sure I’d prefer tart varieties but prefer crisp medium sweet ones best. Sometimes a mix. My only modification is to lessen the amount of sprinkled sugar on top to keep it from being overly sweet. Thank you for such a lovely way to finish a meal!

    • — Terri Szulinski on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • I forgot to mention that I made this using gluten free flour – fantastic!!!

      • — Terri Szulinski on January 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • I’ve made this recipe many times… it’s an absolutely delicious, show-stopping and no-fail recipe! The pie crust can easily be made without a food processor (just cut through the cold butter with a pastry cutter or two knives), and it is versatile so I usually double the crust and freeze half for other pies/tarts/galettes.

    • — Saniya Bloomer on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • One of my baking specialties is Apple Pie. I rarely veer from my tried and true – and highly prized – recipe. On a whim, I decided to give the Rustic French Apple Tart a try, knowing that Jenn’s recipes are always masterful. This tart is no exception. It looks simple; however, the flavor is outstanding. It tastes wonderful with vanilla whipped cream.

    • — Susan S. on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have made this my standard for holiday dinner when we want multiple pie choices. My sister in law says its the perfect proportion of apple to crust!

    • — Marsha on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is my favorite “apple pie” recipe ever. It looks super classy but it’s not hard to make at all! I always get requests to bring this to dinners, parties, as gifts, etc. I always make at least one extra to keep at home for us whenever I bring it anywhere!

    • — Ella on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! My husband said, “forget about apple pie this French apple tart is a winner!”

    • — Barbara on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • The crust on this tart is the best pie crust I have ever made. Our family has 3 avid bakers and we have tried many pie crusts, this is our favorite. We use it for all kinds of pies even savory ones by omitting the sugar.
    The tart is also wonderful, sometimes when I am in a rush I just cut the apples into one inch chunks and make a big heap in the middle. Turns out good no matter how you cut them.
    I use almond flour on the bottom of the crust before adding apples. I find it works better than wheat flour to prevent soggy bottom.

    • — Morag Miller on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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