Rustic French Apple Tart

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Rustic French Apple Tart

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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 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, such as Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonagolds, Jonathans, Golden Delicious, Gala, or Honey Crisp. Otherwise, they’ll turn into applesauce.

How to make a french apple tart

Begin by making the pastry. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, salt and sugar. how to make rustic apple tart

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

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) very cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup very cold water

For the Filling

  • 1¾ lbs baking apples (3 large) (see note)
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅛ 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 ⅛-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 ⅛ 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 1½ 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. Note: Be sure to use baking apples that hold their shape when cooked, such as Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Fuji, Granny Smith, or Golden Delicious. And use a mix of different varietals for the best flavor.
  11. 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.
  12. 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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Comments

  • My son needed to make a dessert for school. He chose this rustic apple tart! We both made one and they turned out amazing! We will keep this recipe, for sure! Thank you!

    • — Debra Geiger on May 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • I have made this recipe more than several times this year. Everyone loves the flaky tender crust to the marvelous apples. The presentation looks like you took all morning to make. It is the center piece of my brunches. Thank you for this easy recipe!

    • — Terry on May 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • Delicious. Thank you for making it simple and easy to follow.

    • — Jeff Morgan on May 15, 2022
    • Reply
    • Lovely recipe and super easy. Any suggestions how else we can use this crust? It’s beautiful and was thinking if I could use it for other pies/tarts?

      • — Jaclyn on May 28, 2022
      • Reply
      • Glad you liked it! I have this plum tart that uses the same crust. You can also use it for pie crust and homemade pop tarts. Hope that helps!

        • — Jenn on June 1, 2022
        • Reply
  • Tried it, Loved it!! Thanks for this recipe..

    • — GeeD on May 9, 2022
    • Reply
    • Awesome recipe!! I followed it exactly the first time I made it and it was wonderful. The 2nd time I made it I did it hand pie style which was awesome! I got 10 small hand pies out of this recipe using a bowl as a cut out, then filling and folding them in half and pressing a fork around the seams.

      • — Amber on May 12, 2022
      • Reply
  • I have made this twice now and it has been a big hit! I used honey crisp and fuji apple varieties.
    The first time I didn’t have turbinado sugar or apricot jam but it still was delicious and irresistible. I had better organization for the second time and the sugar and jam topping elevated everything about it. The directions and pictures were so great to follow. I tend to get intimidated by making and transferring pastry. Rolling right on the parchment paper really made a difference & gave me confidence. I can’t wait to try another of your recipes!

    • — California Linda on May 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • Excellent recipe. Everyone I know is talking about this delicious tart. Thank you.

    • — Patricia Wethmar on April 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • I just just made this today and it is so delicious. It was a bit of a challenge to make the dough until the consistency is right but it’s worth the effort. The aroma of baked apples is drawing everyone to the kitchen….thank you, Jen for another great recipe!

    • — Maria Stern on April 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made it as written. Top uncovered apples shriveled up and burnt, others under the crust hard and not done. Whole thing hit the trash. I usually cook the apples first and use less baking time. Due to comments decided to try this way. Regretted it.

    • — Tony on April 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • I made this recipe and I have no words to say this french apple tart is the best I ever tried in my entire life all family enjoyed so much. Thanks for this recipe.

      • — Consuelo on April 7, 2022
      • Reply
      • I’m speechless. Better than anything in the world. I’m a great Baker!

        • — Maria Becerra on April 17, 2022
        • Reply
  • Made per recipe and it was fabulous. Everyone loved it and so easy. Used the refrigerated pie crust from Pillsbury which made this very easy!!

    • — Robin on March 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • This recipe looks fabulous. I would love to be able to run a copy off but I don’t see that option. Am I just missing it?

    • — Mary Walker on March 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, If you’re looking at the box with the full recipe, on the right side of the recipe box, there is a little printer icon. Just click on that. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on March 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • Lightest, flakiest, crust EVER and I have made thousands of excellent pies. Also, EASIEST crust ever, rolled out in 2 stages – brilliant! I am learning lots of small tricks from your recipes. Had not the crust been weighted down with apples, it would floated up and stuck to the roof of the oven – ha ha! I am so very impressed with your recipes, but even MORE impressed with your teaching style. Nobody can miss if they follow your written AND visual cues precisely. You are an exceptional teacher! Thank you for your hard work and inspiration.

    • — Barb on March 19, 2022
    • Reply
    • 💗💗

      • — Jenn on March 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • Jen, I just love love this dessert. Instead of birthday cake my son has asked can I make 2 of these for him, he absolutely loves this (he’s 23 by the way)
    Can I ask, should you handle the dough as least as you can so in order for it to become less ‘tough/chewy’?

    • — Jacqui on March 7, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad you (and your son) like it! Yes, the less you handle the dough, the more tender it will be.

      • — Jenn on March 9, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is a very good recipe. I think Jacques Pépin uses the exact same recipe!

    • — Robert Brozekat on February 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • I have made this several times and it always comes out so perfect, pretty and wonderfully delicious!

    • — Jo-el Neil on February 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this more than once now. It’s beautiful and delicious.

    • — Madhu Gadia on February 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • Oh, holy cow! I made this yesterday, followed the recipe just exactly as written (other than not using a food processor for the crust as I do not own one). I used honeycrisp apples. It was, as my husband put it, magnificent! I served it for dessert to friends who were over for dinner…they think I am a pastry chef! In my opinion, the turbinado sugar (which I was tempted to omit because I had to go out to purchase it) puts it over the top.

    • — Deb James on February 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn made this a week ago and finished the last slice last night, I am the only one eating it and it is delicious. I have another one in the oven now so will have for another week. I use store-bought shortcrust pastry and its still delicious. I usually make Grandma Ople’s apple pie which I love but this is my new favourite. Thanks for the recipe. Emmet

    • — Emmet on February 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    Love this apple tart recipe so easy and delicious served warm with French vanilla ice cream.
    I made this for dessert last night for company and it was enjoyed by all. Just sliced a piece to have with my coffee this morning. Will be making again.
    Thanks.

    • — Jacqueline on February 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • I took a shortcut and used refrigerated crescent rolls as my crust and adjusted the cooking temperature to 375. Didn’t have apricot preserves, so had to skip that, but it turned out DELICIOUSLY!

    • — Grandmamah on January 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • This is a delicious and easy tart to put together. Have made more than once and will continue to make in the future. Thanks for the recipe.

    • — Christine on January 17, 2022
    • Reply
  • I have made this several times…very easy & pretty, the dough is so forgiving, & it tastes fabulous. Thanks!

    • — Kat on January 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this tart several times now to rave reviews! Thank you for a great recipe that is easy to follow. I thought I’d add a cup of blackberries, any changes you might suggest I should make in temperature or cooking time?

    • — Cathy on December 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad this has been a hit! While I think some other fruits would work here, I’d avoid berries as they release so much juice. If you want to try another seasonal fruit, pears would work nicely but would probably need a little less sugar. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 30, 2021
      • Reply
      • Wow, thank you for your quick reply! Making it tonight for a New Year’s Eve celebration and so I will absolutely take your advice, thanks again and have a Happy New Year!

        • — Cathy on December 31, 2021
        • Reply
    • I made this with blueberries by mixing them with sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch before assembling the tart. It was a dream!
      I used about 1 tbsp of cornstarch and 1/2 tbsp tbsp lemon juice for 4 cups of berries. No change in temperature or cooking time.

      • — Alexandra on March 1, 2022
      • Reply
  • Thank you for sharing this fairly simple-to-make french apple galette. Much appreciated on a busy Christmas day! Other apple galette recipes call for 400 degree oven temperature. I used your suggested 350 and the tart was delicious, but the bottom could’ve been a little “crisper” imho. I wonder if 375 or up to 400 would do the trick?

    • — Finny on December 26, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Finny, It wouldn’t hurt to try; I’d go with 375°F. Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 26, 2021
      • Reply
    • I slid my tart on parchment directly onto a hot pizza stone at 400 degrees and baked about 40 mins. Beautifully flaky crust top and bottom. I’ve made it three times for events this week and got rave reviews! My daughter said it was the best thing I ever made. Thanks Jenn!

      • — Laura on January 27, 2022
      • Reply
  • Another winner! It’s not a fussy recipe and yet it stands out as a delicious and elegant dinner party dessert. I served warm with good quality vanilla bean ice cream after Christmas Eve dinner (Jenn’s beef tenderloin recipe of course) and it was so good.

    • — Sara on December 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have made this several times and it is perfectly flawless

    • — Jodi on December 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve been searching for years for the perfect apple dessert, and this is it! This apple tart is so delicious and simple to make. I’ve always had trouble with pastry crust cracking – but this turned out beautifully! My 15-year-old son says it was the best dessert he has ever eaten and now he only wants this!

    • — Mary Theresa on December 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • Have made this twice now. So easy. First time I’ve made pastry and this is easy. Pie leaked the second but was still delicious. Wife wants one a week!

    • — Tony Mac on December 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this tart several times and it’s always been a winner, Jenn. My daughter has a gluten allergy and I’d like to make this for her with gluten-free flour. Possible? You’re my go-to resource and every recipe is a guaranteed winner. You make me feel like I know what I’m doing in the kitchen. Thanks so much. 🙂

    • — Catherine Low on December 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Catherine, so glad you like the recipes! While I haven’t made this with gluten-free flour, a number of readers have commented that they have successfully. Enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 20, 2021
      • Reply
  • You sure do make printing a recipe hard and turn me off from your site.

    • — herman small on December 10, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Herman, I’m sorry you found it challenging to print! Just a few tips: When you’re viewing the full recipe (near the bottom of the page), look in the upper righthand corner of that box – you’ll see an icon there that looks like a printer. Select that and it (and it will open a dialog box that gives you printing options. Hope that helps! Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

      • — Jenn on December 13, 2021
      • Reply
  • Made it tonight. Novice baker here. Recipe is a Complete winner! Husband was so impressed and said I need to make it for future dinner guests:)

    • — Monique on December 8, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is really really good! I was wondering what is your favorite apple combination for this recipe? 🙂

    • — Ann on December 7, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Ann, I like Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious. (And I’d use a mix of them for the best flavor.) Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • Just made it now and it was great.easy to follow instructions, too.will make it again

    • — Rosemary Breivik on December 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Love your site! I want to make a triple batch of the crust and then freeze 3 tarts. Do you think this would work? Thank you,
    Jo

    • — Jo on November 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the site! Yes, making a triple batch of the crust should work but you may need to make two or three batches of the dough as I don’t think it will all fit in the food processor at once. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • So easy and delicious!!!

    • — Yolanda Mitchell on November 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this to bring to our family’s thanksgiving dinner. It was so easy to follow and the results were fantastic! Thank you it’s a keeper!

    • — Sumi on November 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • I am in the middle of making your apple tart. It all came together beautifully and was so excited to bake it. It is now in the oven in a puddle of juices! Why did this happen? I consider myself an experienced baker and have made many many pies with great success. Not sure why this happened. We obviously haven’t eaten it yet since its still in the oven, but I’m afraid it’s going to be a soggy mess! What did I do wrong?

    • — Margie on November 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Margie, It’s normal for some of the juices to leak out. How did the tart turn out?

      • — Jenn on November 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • Such a great recipe! I love the instructions and the picture play-by-play; really helps out the novice baker/cook 🙂 My boyfriend is very particular about food but he said this is probably one of the best things I have made for him. Thank you for your time and effort into your recipes! I appreciate you!

    • — diana on November 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi you mentioned using a food processor fitted with the steel blade? Can a chopper replace it for the job?

    • — Rachel on November 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Rachel, I’m not sure how a chopper would work, but 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. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • One of the best desserts I’ve made! The crust is gorgeous and flakey

    • — Mars on November 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • Wow! Soooo good! My husband said this was one of the top desserts I’ve made…ever! We have been married 27 years! I agree.

    Your step by step really helped me make a breakthrough with crust making. I’m not so scared to try making my own pie crust anymore. Your site/recipes/cookbooks are amazing!

    Incredible recipe. Thank you!

    • — Sara on November 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • I made this, it not only tasted great, it looked wonderful!!! Its a few steps above apple pie but worth the effort.

      • — Susan anderson on November 24, 2021
      • Reply
  • Can you make the with pre made crust ~ I am terrible at making dough?
    Love all you recipes!

    Best,
    Terry

    • — Terry on November 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Terry, So glad you like the recipes! You’ll get much better results with the homemade crust. I promise it’s easy!

      • — Jenn on November 20, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this yesterday for a friend’s birthday and it was great! Every detail of the recipe makes it great!

    • — Mary on November 18, 2021
    • Reply

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