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’ve made this twice. Both came out great. The 2nd time I used half the butter in the filling and added the juice of one lemon, 2 teaspoons of corn starch, and let it sit about an hour in the fridge. Then I brought the filling up to a brief simmer and let it cool down before completing assembly.

    The final product was more cohesive, with a bright tart flavor.

    • — Peter on September 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this tart for dinner guests last weekend and everyone loved it! It took me a little longer than 40 min to prepare, but I had a lot going on. I’m making it again now, and both times I’ve had to bake 20+ min longer to get the crust browned evenly. It’s not browning along the “pleats”. Maybe I should roll the edges thinner? Gala apples were perfect first time. Honeycrisp this time have leaked a lot of juice. I’m anxious to taste this one!

    • — Jenny on September 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jenny, Yes, I think you may be able to resolve the issue by rolling the edges a bit thinner. (And glad you like it!)

      • — Jenn on September 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • There is no baking powder or baking soda in the crust? Is that typical?

    • — Jeneen on September 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes, that is typical as most pie crusts don’t have either of these. (That said, my pie crust recipes do include baking powder as it helps the dough expand a bit in the pan as opposed to shrinking down the sides. That isn’t necessary here as this isn’t baked in a pan.) Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on September 21, 2021
      • Reply
  • I’d like to make this yummy-sounding tart for my husband and me . . . but I’d like to freeze half of it after it’s been baked. Your suggestion?

    • — Jeannie from Louisville on September 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jeannine, I’ve only frozen this before baking it, but I think it should work to freeze some of it after baking. I’d just reheat it a bit before serving. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 17, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is my favourite dessert now.

    • — Alexandra on September 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • ABSOLUTELY HEAVENLY!!!! The directions were PERFECT. Perhaps a little bit of work and dishes, BUT TOTALLY TO DIE FOR. It does not need ice cream. I just dusted it slightly with confectioners sugar to serve. WILL DEFINITELY MAKE AGAIN. I already shared to Facebook, acknowledging Once Upon a Chef. This should be rated 10:10!!!!

    • — Bonnie Duran on September 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • This apple tart was fantastic. So easy to make and my family loved it. Thank you. I will be making it again and again.

    • — KAREN MCINTYRE on August 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! Do you think I can omit the egg? One of my guests is allergic…will it make a big difference? Should I follow the same steps, minus the egg?

    • — Maria on August 26, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Maria, You could omit it, but it’s also possible to substitute a little milk or cream for the egg. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on August 27, 2021
      • Reply
  • Making this made me feel like a professional baker. It was perfection! So delicious! Your recipes can always be counted on to be spot on!

    • — Michelle on August 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this yesterday, including the optional apricot jam (I make my own apricot amaretto jam) on the exposed apples.
    I brought it to a small cookout.
    It was delicious.
    I see why this recipe gets 5* with over 400 reviews.
    I messed up the dough a bit; after completing the food processor step i was afraid i made the dough too moist so I put it in a plastic bag and into the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up but not freeze.
    Put it directly on parchment paper (with a dusting of flour) and rolled it out to recipe thickness. Then continued on as directed.
    Everyone loved the flaky crust!
    I used 3 each Macintosh and Spartan apples (I have both trees in my yard). Cut, cored, & peeled with a Pampered Chef tool made short work of apple prep.
    Too bad I can’t post a pic of my effort.
    Thank you Chef Segal for this wonderful recipe!

    • — Jeffrey G on August 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jenn, help!
    I have made this tart many times and it is always a ‘hit’. I made three last night and froze them as directed but realized I forgot to sprinkle the flour on the pastry for one of them. Should I leave it be or sprinkle flour over the top before baking from frozen state?
    Thank you! Did I mention I need to bake them tomorrow? 🙂

    • — Lisa on August 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Lisa, glad you like the tart! I’m assuming you’ve already arranged the apples on top of each one? If so, I would skip the flour. Hope that helps and that everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on August 14, 2021
      • Reply
      • Jenn, I really appreciate your taking the time to answer on a weekend. Thank you.

        • — Lisa on August 14, 2021
        • Reply
        • 🙂 My pleasure.

          • — Jenn on August 16, 2021
          • Reply
  • This was perfect! Great recipe and not over complicated.

    • — Emily J on August 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen,

    Can I make 2 apple tarts at the same time? One in the middle and one at the bottom rack, Will it be the same outcome even placed in the bottom rack in the oven?

    Thank u so much.

    The best apple tart indeed.

    Regards,
    Jacqui

    • — Jacqui on July 26, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jacqui, If you’d like to make 2 at once, I’d put the racks in the center-most positions in the oven (and avoid the bottom) and switch their positions halfway through baking. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on July 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this the other say and everyone loved it. Now I wanna try it with peach instead of apple. How many peaches and how much sugar do you recommend for the filling? Thanks!

    • — Andrea on July 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad it was a hit! Hi Megan, For peaches, I’d use my plum galette recipe, which is almost identical to this one. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 20, 2021
      • Reply
  • I’ve made many a pie, but this crust might be the best I’ve ever made. This galette is delicious and I’ll be making it again. And again.
    I cut the sugar down to 1/4 c (because my family doesn’t like very sweet desserts) and the amt of sugar in the crust by half, but that’s just our preference.
    I enjoy making food pretty, so thank you for this delicious recipe that is also lovely to serve for guests!

    • — KS on July 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this apple crostata again for the Fourth of July. It is absolutely wonderful! The crust is so light and buttery, and the flavor is so delicious. Everyone loves it. Worth the effort for the rave reviews. Love Jenn’s recipes!!

    • — Lenore on July 8, 2021
    • Reply
  • Just made this again today, this is now our favorite galette! I added a sprinkle of nutmeg. Also, sprinkled finely ground pecans over the crust, 3″ from ends, before the fruit. Keeps the crust from getting too moist and adds great flavor. For the glaze, I mix Bonne Maman Intense apricot preserves with a splash of dark rum. Yummm!

    • — Laurie on June 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, what can I do if I do not have a food processor to mix the ingredients for crust?

    • — Fiona on June 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Fiona, you can make the crust by hand – just cut the butter in with two knives or rub it in with your fingers, then stir in the water. It will work fine. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 21, 2021
      • Reply
    • Easy and delicious, the best part I got the apples from my tree.

      • — Sueli G Ribas on September 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this dish twice. Both times it waa big hit. Then today I made it with peaches and blueberries! It was magic. This crust is the best! Thank you so very much for all that you do

    • — Linda Matthews on June 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • Love it. Easiest crust ever!

    • — Karin on June 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is one of my favorite go-to desserts. I have also have sliced in apricots between the apple slices and sprinkled blueberries across the top of the sliced fruit. The crust is perfect, I always get rave reviews from my guests and the presentation is beautiful.

    • — Pam on June 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can this be made ahead and frozen? Ive made this before and love it!

    • — Sheryl B on June 5, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sheryl, Glad you like it! If you want to make it ahead, I’d just assemble but not bake it. You can see specific freezing instructions at the bottom of the recipe.

      • — Jenn on June 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • Tried this recipe yesterday for my family and it was a hit! The apples were perfectly soft and sweet while the pastry was to die for! I was very happy with this recipe, wow. Can’t say enough about this pastry, so simple, so flaky, just perfection! This Apple tart will be going in my list of favorite recipes for sure 🙂 thank you for sharing Jenn!

    • — Mel on June 2, 2021
    • Reply

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