Rustic French Apple Tart Recipe

This French apple tart has a buttery, flaky crust, a thin layer of apples flavored with cinnamon, and is similar to an apple pie without the pan.

French desserts typically conjure up images of upscale patisseries with towers of pastel-colored macarons and glossy fruit tarts. However, the French keep things simple when they bake at home and don’t try to outdo their pastry chefs. No matter how stylish the hostess, her homemade dessert invariably looked as rustic as if it had come from a farmhouse grandmère, according to Dorie Greenspan, one of my favorite food writers. The type of dessert a French woman might assemble at home is this free-form apple tart. It consists of a thin layer of cinnamon-scented apples on top of a buttery, flaky crust, similar to an apple pie without the pan.

I know that the thought of making their own pastry crust makes some people want to run away, but this dough is practically fail-safe, simple to roll out, and only takes a minute to put together in a food processor. Additionally, the beauty of a free-form tart is that you can simply fold the dough irregularly over the fruit instead of fussing with crimping it into a pie plate. The charm of this dessert lies in its imperfections.

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Rustic French Apple Tart

Rustic French Apple Tart Recipe

This French apple tart has a buttery, flaky crust, a thin layer of apples flavored with cinnamon, and is similar to an apple pie without the pan.

Prep: 30min

Total: 1h30min

Yield: 8

Serving Size: 1 slice

Serving Size: 1 slice; Calories: 392, Fat: 21, Carbohydrate: 49, Protein: 4, Saturated Fat: 13, Unsaturated Fat: 26, Sugar: 26, Fiber: 3, Sodium: 195, Cholesterol: 73


  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons of very cold, unsalted butter cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces from 11 1/2 sticks
  • ¼ cup very cold water
  • 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
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apricot jelly or jam, optional for glaze


  1. Make the crust: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor with a steel blade. Pulse briefly to combine. Just until the butter is the size of peas, about 5 seconds after adding the cold butter. Add the ice water to the mixture and process for about five seconds, just long enough to moisten and make crumbly. Transfer the dough to a work surface that has been lightly dusted with flour, and knead it a few times until it forms a ball. Pat the dough into a disk. Dust the dough with flour and re-flour your work surface. Roll the dough into a circle with a rolling pin that is 8 to 10 inches in diameter, turning it as you go and adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. While preparing the filling, transfer the dough to the baking sheet lined with parchment paper and chill (you’ll roll the dough out further on the parchment paper, so go ahead and clean your work surface).
  2. Prepare the filling by peeling, coring, and slicing the apples into 1/8-inch-thick slices (you should have about 4 cups total). Add the salt, melted butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar and combine.
  3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, then place the parchment paper on the table. Directly on the parchment paper, roll the dough into a 14-inch circle that is about 1/8 inch thick. It’s fine if the edges are a little ragged. Reposition the parchment and dough on the baking sheet; the pastry should now incline upward toward the pan’s lip.
  4. Assemble the tart: Sprinkle the flour evenly over the pastry. Place the apple slices in overlapping circles on top, 3 inches from the edge. Since it won’t really matter in the end and you don’t want the dough to get too warm, don’t worry about making it look perfect. Free-formally fold the dough’s edges over the apples, working your way around and making pleats as you go. Pinch some dough from the edge and use it to patch any tears.
  5. Brush the pleated dough evenly with the beaten egg using a pastry brush. 1 tablespoon of turbinado sugar should be added to the top crust and 1 tablespoon to the fruit. The tart should be chilled for 15 to 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350°F, and place a rack in the middle of the oven.
  7. Bake the pie for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the apples are cooked through and the crust is golden. (It’s acceptable if some tart juices drip onto the pan. Just scrape any burned bits off the tart after it has been baked to prevent the juices from burning on the pan. ) Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool.
  8. While the tart cools, make the optional glaze. Mix the apricot jam and 1 1/2 teaspoons of water in a small bowl. Heat in the microwave until bubbling, about 20 seconds. Apply the apricot syrup to the apples with a pastry brush.
  9. Transfer the tart to a serving plate or cutting board using two large spatulas. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature. The tart is best served the same day it is made, but leftovers keep for a few days on the counter, loosely covered.
  10. Use baking apples that maintain their shape after cooking, like Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Fuji, Granny Smith, or Golden Delicious. And for the best flavor, combine a variety of different grapes.
  11. Up to three days in advance, the dough may be prepared and stored in the refrigerator. Before rolling, let it rest at room temperature for approximately 15 minutes or until it becomes pliable.
  12. Instructions for Freezing: The assembled tart can be frozen for up to three months. Wrap the tart tightly in plastic and freeze on the baking sheet until solid. (Brush the tart’s crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle on the sugar just before baking. ) Bake directly from the freezer. (Baking something from frozen might require a few more minutes. ).

Rustic French Apple Tart | A Simple Apple Tart Recipe


Is Trader Joe’s rustic apple tart seasonal?

A seasonal, larger variation of the apple blossoms can be found in Trader Joe’s Rustic Apple Tarte. The Trader Joe’s Rustic Apple Tarte is basically a larger, more nutty version of the Trader Joe’s Apple Blossoms. It is sweet, but not overly sweet, has lots of texture, and is delicious.

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