French Apple Tart: An Easy, Impressive Fall Dessert

When you think of fall baking, French apple tart might not come to mind. Fall is the season for pie, and apple pie specifically. Fall desserts tend toward the homey and rustic, like classic fruit pies topped with a rumpled, burnished double crust. Or perhaps you’re pulling out the baking pan to make an apple crisp, sweet with cinnamon and topped with a crunchy layer of sugared oat streusel.

This year, I’d encourage you to think beyond pumpkin pie and cranberry orange scones. Those simple recipes are wonderful, but it’s nice to master something new. This particular recipe for French Apple Tart is strikingly sophisticated-looking, but actually easier to put together than a basic apple pie.

French apple tart via @kingarthurflour

The secret behind its simplicity: a press-in crust. Instead of a classic pie crust, you’ll mix together a sweet pastry dough (a food processor or a stand mixer makes this even easier), which you press into your tart pan with your fingertips. There’s no cutting in of butter, no rolling out of the dough, no careful crimping of the edges.

The crisp, sweet crust is filled with a nutty, creamy frangipane. Made from eggs, almond flour, and sugar, the frangipane bakes into a dense, moist layer with a strong almond flavor. Thin slices of apple top the pie. The circles of apple give the pie a fancy, decorative touch without any complicated crust techniques!

Here’s how to make a French apple tart:

Step 1: The crust

To make the crust you’ll need:

2/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together all the ingredients. It’s helpful to do this in a food processor or stand mixer, but you can do it by hand, as well. The dough will come together in a ball. Once it’s smooth, drop spoonfuls of the dough into a greased 9″ tart pan.

French apple tart via @kingarthurflour

Using your fingertips, press the dough into the base of the pan and up the sides in an even layer. Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling.

Step 2: The filling

While the crust chills, make the frangipane filling. Traditionally made of blanched ground almonds, eggs, and sugar, frangipane is an excellent and easy way to elevate a fruit pie. It adds a layer of flavor and texture, but is so much simpler to make than a custard filling.

Here, you’ll use almond flour (a nice shortcut to grinding your own almonds). A touch of all-purpose flour helps to keep the filling light yet firm. You’ll need:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 to 2 medium apples, cored, peeled or unpeeled, thinly sliced

French apple tart via @kingarthurflour

French apple tart via @kingarthurflour

Spread the filling in the chilled crust. Arrange the apple slices neatly in circles, pressing them gently into the frangipane. You can peel the apples or leave them unpeeled. I like leaving the peel on to show a small slice of color.

French apple tart via @kingarthurflour

Step 3: Bake your French Apple Tart

Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes. The tart is ready when the edges of the crust begin to brown and the frangipane puffs up slightly.

Once baked, the frangipane firms but stays wonderfully moist. The apple slices soften slightly in the oven, just like in a classic apple pie.

French apple tart via @kingarthurflour

Serve this tart warm or chilled. It’s delicious with a dollop of whipped cream (add a dash of cinnamon!) or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Consider it a new addition to your fall baking repertoire, and a perfect way to impress at a dinner party.

You can find the full recipe here, including a printable version.

comments

  1. amy

    this looks & sounds delicious! i’d love to make this today, just wondering if you’ll be posting the actual recipe showing ingredient amounts. thanks!

    Reply
  2. Rosa

    Hi, Amy! KAF has a link to the recipe right at the end (“You can find the printable recipe here..”) 😀 Hope that helps!

    KAF – fyi…I am loving the new Sift issue!!!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Patty, springform pans are typically much deeper than tart pans — 2.5″ rather than 1″, so this recipe would only fill your pan 1″ deep. It may prove difficult to level the edges of the crust partway up the side of the pan, but if you’re comfortable with something a little more free form, you’re certainly welcome to give it a try. Let us know how it comes out if you do! Mollie@KAF

  3. Debbi

    I’d love to slice apples uniformly and thin like that. What tool did you use? Pls don’t say a box grater/slicer as I want to keep my fingers

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can use a mandoline to achieve perfectly sliced, paper-thin apples (and much more!). You’ll want to be careful using this piece of equipment too, as it can be easy to cut fingers here too if you’re working quickly. Good luck! Kye@KAF

  4. Nancy

    This might be a silly question but do you remove the tart from the pan prior to serving or slice it in the pan and mess up the first piece digging it out?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The secret is in the equipment: use a fluted tart pan with a removal bottom. Once the tart has cooled, you can press gently on the bottom to release it from the side of the pan. Then you can cut beautiful, neat slices with ease. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  5. Judith

    I see one glaring difference between an apple pie and the tart: there’s infinitely more butter and less apple in the tart. Do you have any suggestions for a lower fat version?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Judith, if you have a low-fat crust recipe you like using to make pie, feel free to use it in place of this crust. Just be sure it can cover a 9″ round pan. You could also consider using our No-Roll Pie Crust recipe, which uses canola, vegetable, olive, peanut, or coconut oil instead of butter. You’re also welcome to reduce the butter in the filling and replace it with some applesauce instead; you’ll want to use at least half butter and half applesauce to ensure a pleasant result. I hope that helps! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Dorothy, you could use a ricotta-cheese filling to replace the frangipane if you’re looking for a still tasty, nut-free option. Try using a 1/2 batch of the ricotta pie filling from this recipe here. The creaminess of the ricotta complements the apples perfect; it’s almost like a cheesecake combined with a tart. Yum! Kye@KAF

    2. Kim

      If you only have an allergy to certain nuts, you can also make frangipane with others like macadamia or walnuts.

    1. Bonnie M Russell

      That’s what I was looking for. A finishing touch: apricot jam mixed with little hot water and applied with a pastry brush. Honey would work well, too.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kate, this recipe would be a good candidate for using our new GF Measure for Measure flour. If the crust dough seems a bit dry, feel free to add a teaspoon or two of milk to bring the crust dough together. Barb@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      These stunning tarts would make beautiful gifts! If wrapped well in plastic, they’ll last for about 1-2 days at room temperature or 3-5 days in the fridge. If you store them in the fridge, you might recommend the lucky recipients cover the tart with foil and heat it in a warm oven for 5-10 minutes before serving. It will be best the sooner it is eaten. Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kay, you may want to adjust your oven temperature (bump up by 25°F) and check for doneness about 5 minutes early. Also, consider reducing the sugar by about 1 tablespoon in the filling. Check out our full High-Altitude Baking Guide for additional tips. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  6. Maribel

    I am teaching a baking class to teens.
    We only have an hour and a half, if they takin it home to bake 2 hrs after putting it together will the apples turn brown? Can this tart be make ahead and bake later?

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood, post author

      Hi Maribel, what a great idea to teach this! I wouldn’t recommend making it any further ahead than 2 hours, but that should be fine. You don’t really need to worry about the apples browning since they are going to be baked anyway — the only thing that might be tricky is transporting the unbaked tarts, but if you can do that safely and they get baked as soon as they get home, it should be fine. Enjoy! -Posie

  7. Lydia

    This was delicious. I used bartlett pears instead of applies. One thing: the site for the recipe says 2/3 cup butter for the crust. When you check “grams”, the website calculator incorrectly says 227 grams butter (or 1 cup). I ended up using 152 grams or 2/3 cup and it was great!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re so glad you enjoyed this one, Lydia, and we appreciate you catching the mistake in our conversion. We’ll work on getting that updated asap! Mollie@KAF

  8. Denise Lewis

    I’ve baked this twice and it is delicious. I’m having a problem with the crust, though. As it bakes, it makes huge bubbles in the bottom–some about the size of a walnut and others nearly double that. The top of the tart is still level but when I cut into the tart, these holes are everywhere. What can I do to prevent those?

    Reply
    1. Posie Harwood, post author

      Sorry to hear that Denise! Do you mean the crust itself has bubbles, or the filling? In either case, first make sure you’re really pressing the crust into the pan. You want to make sure there is no air trapped underneath the crust and that it’s an even thickness. Next, when you add the filling, make sure there is no air trapped in the filling either — use an offset spatula to smooth the filling down which should help that. When you add the apple slices, press down gently on them to try and eliminate any air that might be contributing here as well. Hope that helps! Let us know! -Posie

  9. Hollis

    The recipes on the blog look amazing and I already have three I wish to try. Am I missing a printable version?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re glad to hear that you’re feeling inspired, Hollis! There’s a link to the printable version of the recipe at the end of the article, or you can access it right here. Happy baking! Mollie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We checked with the author of this post, Posie, and she said that she likes using a mix. That way you cover all your bases with both flavor and texture. She particularly noted that Jonagold, Braeburn, and Winesaps are all fantastic choices. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  10. Merry

    I am very eager to try this beautiful dessert for a brunch/meeting I’m holding at the end of October. Luckily I have some fresh-picked apples to use — Granny Smith, Delicious and Empire. However I don’t have a tart pan. Could I use a glass pie dish instead? It would probably be hard to get it out to serve, but I’m sure no one would mind some rustic slices … Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Merry, if you have a straight-sided, 9″ pie pan, that’s a great choice. If your pie pan has sloped edges, that will work too — just be sure it’s deep-dish so it will fit all of the ingredients. You’ll likely have to serve the tart right in the pan since the sides don’t pop off, but the flavor will still be delicious. Enjoy! Kye@KAF

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