Rustic French Apple Tart
This Rustic French Apple Tart is simple to prepare, but delivers big flavor. Serve this classic tart warm with vanilla ice cream!
This French Apple Tart is my favorite type of desserts. Rustic, fruit-filled, not too sweet, and perfect with a scoop of ice cream.
Pastry is extremely scientific, precise, and for the most part, pretty unforgiving. Cooking, on the other hand, offers more of a “wing-it” approach. It can be hard to quantify and replicate and requires a lot of improvisation.
They are both challenging in different ways.
This Rustic French Apple Tart represent the best of both worlds. The crust requires precision and is fairly technique-driven, while the apple filling can be adapted in a variety of ways.
Need more apples, just add them. Have extra tart apples? Sprinkle on more sugar. Prefer different spices and fruits? Use them!
This rustic French apple tart is perfect for anyone hesitant to dive into homemade tart making. The classic pate sucree crust is simple to make, forgiving, and in this case, doesn’t require blind-baking.
In this case, the tart is baked for a long time on a preheated pizza stone. This allows the bottom crust to cook at the same speed as the sides, preventing a soggy bottom.
Rustic French Apple Tart
Pate Sucree Crust (Yields Dough for Two 9-inch Tart Shells):
- 8 ounces (230g) unsalted butter softened
- 4 ounces (115g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 12 ounces (340g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 lemon sliced in half
- 4-5 Pink Lady apples
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1½ tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into very small pieces
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅓-½ cup apricot jelly or substitute another variety
- ⅓-½ cup water
- Make Tart Dough (Yields 2 9-inch Tart Shells): In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the softened butter and sugar over medium-speed for 1 minute.
- Add vanilla, zest, salt, and lightly beaten egg, and mix over low speed until smooth, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as needed. Over low speed, add the flour at once and mix until the dough just begins to come together.
- Transfer the dough to a clean countertop. Using the “fraisage” method, use the heel of your hand to press down and smear the dough onto the counter. Push the dough back together and repeat until smooth and all ingredients are well incorporated. The dough should have a slight sheen to it. Divide the dough equally in half (use a scale for best results), pat each portion into a thin disc and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour. The additional portion of tart dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
- Assemble Tart: Preheat a pizza stone in the oven to 350°F (175°C) for at least 45 minutes.
- Remove one tart dough disc from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured countertop. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. Using a lightly floured rolling pin (starting from the center of dough to the outside), roll the dough into ¼-inch round disc. While rolling the dough, continuously lift and move the dough on the countertop to ensure it is not sticking. Note: If the dough cracks, gently press the pieces back together with hands and continue rolling.
- Using the rolling pin, lift the dough and lay over a 9-inch (1-inch deep) tart pan. Gently guide the dough into the edges of the tart pan (try to avoid stretching the dough). Press the dough tightly inside the sides and edges to shape the tart shell. Trim any dough overhang with a knife. Note: Scraps of dough can be pressed together, frozen, and reused.
- Cover the tart shell tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the apple filling.
- Prepare Apple Filling: Peel one apple at a time, rubbing the outside of the apple pieces with the lemon halves to reduce browning and oxidation. Slice the apples in half, remove the core, and slice the apple very thinly. Set the apple slices into a large mixing bowl, squeeze and toss with a touch of lemon juice as you work. Repeat with remaining apples. Roughly chop any apple trimmings and set aside separately.
- Remove the tart shell from the fridge, spread any extra apple trimmings onto the bottom of the tart shell. Arrange the apple slices in a circular pattern around the tart shell, starting on the outside of the tart, overlapping the apple slices slightly. This does not need to be perfect.
- Sprinkle the apples evenly with the granulated sugar and top with the small piece of butter. Using a spoon or your fingers, sprinkle on the ground cinnamon.
- Bake the tart directly on the pizza stone for 75 to 90 minutes or until the edges of the tart are golden brown and the apples are tender. Allow to cool on a rack for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
- Brush with Apple Glaze: Once the tart has cooled slightly, heat the jelly and water (almost equal parts) in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbling slightly. Whisking frequently until the mixture is smooth, thin, and consistent in texture. Add more water or reduce if necessary to achieve the proper consistency. Using a pastry brush, brush the tart filling with the glaze and let set. Tart is best served slightly warm with vanilla ice cream.