There must be a reason you can find these in just about every bakery in France, right? This has to be one of my all-time favorite desserts — and possibly even breakfasts! The perfect combination of sweet, tart, and buttery goodness, this French apple tart is one of those desserts that will not last a whole day before it mysteriously vanishes from the fridge. I don’t judge… I encourage!
Making a French apple tart can be intimidating, but I promise there is nothing to be afraid of. Though arranging the apple slices to create a perfect circular pattern may trigger those of us with even the mildest of perfectionistic tendencies, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on it and it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, spending too much time arranging the apple slices may lead to your dough becoming a warm, soft, sticky mess. One way around this is to make the tart in a square shape, on a sheet pan, arranging the apples in rows — it’s much simpler, faster, and no less elegant (or delicious)!
Start by preheating your oven to 400ºF.
Place your pastry dough on a well-floured surface and roll it out using a floured rolling pin. Keep rotating the dough to prevent sticking.
Then, carefully transfer the rolled-out dough onto a tart pan and gently press the dough into the bottom edges of the pan. Cut off any excess dough, leaving roughly 1 to 1½ inches of extra dough around the circumference of the pan.
With a pastry brush (or just your fingers), brush the outside edge of the dough with cold water and fold it on top of itself to form a thicker outer edge.
Press very gently to push the dough into the sides of the tart pan. With a fork, prick the bottom layer of the pastry dough inside the pan.
Immediately chill the tart pan in the fridge while preparing your apples, which need to be peeled, cored, and sliced to a roughly ¼-inch thickness. I recommend placing the sliced apple pieces in a large bowl with a good squeeze of lemon juice to prevent browning.
Next, take the chilled pastry dough/tart pan combo and start arranging the sliced apples in a single layer on the bottom of the tart.
Brush the top of the apples with melted butter, and sprinkle on (in a semi-even layer) ¼ to ⅓ cup sugar, depending on the sweetness of your apples.
Place the tart on a sheet pan in the middle rack of the oven and bake until the apples have begun to lightly brown and the tart has receded slightly from the edges of the pan. When I make this tart, it takes about 50 minutes in the oven.
When done — and as much as it can be hard to resist diving into the tart — I recommend brushing the top surface of the tart (including the crust) with our warmed apricot glaze (recipe here) and allowing it to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Otherwise, you can allow it to cool fully and refrigerate it for another time — it also tastes great chilled the next morning for breakfast!
French Apple Tart
This French apple tart is the perfect combination of sweet, tart, and buttery goodness. It’s one of those desserts that will not last a whole day before it mysteriously vanishes from the fridge. I don't judge… I encourage!
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Place pastry dough on a well-floured surface and roll out dough using a floured rolling pin. Keep rotating the dough to prevent sticking.
- Carefully transfer rolled-out dough onto 10" tart pan and gently press into bottom edges of pan. Cut off any excess dough, leaving 1" to 1½" of excess dough around the circumference of pan.
- With a pastry brush (or your fingers), brush the outside edge of the dough with cold water and fold it on top of itself to form a thicker outer edge, pressing gently.
- With a fork, prick the bottom layer of pastry dough. Chill in refrigerator while preparing the apples.
- Peel, core, and slice the apples to approximately ¼” thickness. Place sliced apples in a bowl with lemon juice to prevent browning.4–6 Granny Smith apples2–3 Tbsp lemon juice
- Arrange the sliced apples in a single layer on the tart.
- Brush the top of the apples with melted butter.3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- Sprinkle sugar to evenly coat top of apples.¼–⅓ cup white sugar
- Place on a sheet pan in the middle rack of the oven.
- Bake until apples have begun to lightly brown and the tart has receded slightly from the edge of the pan (about 50 minutes).
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Brush top surface of tart (including crust) with warmed apricot glaze.
- Serve warm, or allow to cool and refrigerate.
- Check out my recipe for homemade pastry dough, here, and my warm apricot glaze, here!
- After removing the chilled pastry dough from the refrigerator, beat it with a rolling pin until it becomes malleable.
- When rolling and forming the dough, be sure to work quickly and keep the dough moving. This will prevent the dough from becoming warm and sticking to your rolling surface.
- If cracks form when rolling out the dough, simply dip your fingers in cold water and gently press the cracks together to reform. A pie dough can break and crumble if it is too dry or too cold.
- Arrange the apples on the tart as quickly as possible to avoid the pastry dough becoming warm and sticky.
- The amount of sugar depends on the sweetness of the apples. Taste one of the sliced apples to gauge the level of sweetness and adjust the sugar accordingly.