A classic tart, prepared in the simplest way. Apple slices baked with sugar, covered in a creme fraiche, cream and egg filling, enrobed by a buttery crust. This French "tarte aux pommes" is one of my favorite apple tarts and it will be yours as well once you have made the recipe in your kitchen.
I have very fond childhood memories of visiting our family in France every year. Even though it was a long 12 hour drive from Marburg in Germany to Limoges in south of France, to be greeted on arrival with my grandma's delicious French Apple Tart, totally made the trip worthwhile.
I remember Grandma using apples from her garden and dairy from the neighbours to bake this tart late afternoon, so that we could have a slice for dessert after dinner. The memory of that sweet scent, of a freshly baked apple tart, still lingers🥰
This is one of the few recipes, that have been passed down through our family. Knowing how much I loved the tart, mum recently shared the recipe with me. And now I can't wait to share the recipe with you all!
What do I need for the French Apple Tart Recipe?
Apples are the star of the tart. Shop for sweet sour tasting apples. The filling is sweet enough, hence the rather sour apples will balance the tart well. Boskop, Royal Gala, Granny Smith, Golden delicious are good for baking. I used pink lady on my first attempt and the result was a mushy overly sweet tart as the apples are small and too sweet.
Thereafter I opted for granny smith apples, as these are large in size and have a sweet sour taste. Using a larger apple made the final tart look more appealing as the apples were not completely submerged in the custard.
For the filling you need creme fraiche, cooking cream, white sugar, salt, a free range egg, vanilla essence. My mother uses only creme fraiche in her recipe but I use a mix of cooking cream and creme fraiche. I was afraid the heavy fat content in the creme fraiche could make the filling split.
It worked fine and thereon I have stuck to my version. You can replace the amount of creme fraiche with sour cream if creme fraiche is not available or use milk instead for a lighter result.
The vanilla essence is optional, I like to add a few drops just to give a hint of the vanilla taste to the tart.
For the dough recipe
For the shortcrust (dough) you need plain flour (preferably organic), unsalted butter, a free range egg, white sugar, salt and water.
Making the dough can be tricky for the first time so no one is judging if you decide to buy the shortcrust dough, especially if you want to save time.
How to make a Shortcrust Dough
Making the dough gets easier with time. There are a few tricks and techniques to consider.
Temperature and Time
Temperature and time are key since you are using butter in the dough. The butter needs to be at room temperature so remember to take it out from the fridge in advance. Leave it outside for sometime before you start with the recipe.
This is important as the Dough is the first key step in making the French Apple Tart recipe.
On the contraire, you need to work in a rather cold space and be quick while making the dough. The pastry requires delicate handling for best results.
The dough making process
Place the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Flake the butter with your fingers inside the bowl. Use a food processor to mix all the ingredients together. Once you see small crumb like texture, add the remaining ingredients and mix until a dough has formed.
Now gently knead the dough on a floured, cold surface until it comes together, just be mindful not to over knead. Form the dough into a disc shape and keep chilled in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Rolling the dough
Now the fun begins! Flour your work surface again, dust the dough and start rolling out the pastry into a circle of 3mm thickness. Flour as required to make sure the dough doesn't stick to the surface. The rolled out pastry should be larger in size than the tart pan, I used a 30cm form. Roll the pastry on to your rolling pin and then roll it off onto the tart pan.
Press the dough down gently to the bottom of the pastry pan and work your way up to the sides. Trim the excess dough.
Heads-up! If you are making a shortcrust for the first time, be patient. There will be moments when you will probably want to dump the dough into the bin and give up but please don't! Below is a tip that will help when working with the shortcrust👨🍳
My tip: Make space in your fridge! Roll the dough out on a non slip silicone pastry mat or if you don't have one, use parchment paper instead. Every time you feel the pastry is getting too warm and difficult to handle, place it back in the fridge for a few minutes to cool down. When the pastry is rolled out, transfer it with the help of a rolling pin, onto the pastry pan. Refrigerate till you are ready to use it.
Making the filling for the French Apple Tart
First we need to prep the apples. Peel and core the apples only when the dough is already rolled out in the pastry pan. This will avoid them oxidising and hence turning brown. Cut into 1 cm thick slices and arrange in a circle on top of the dough in the prepared pastry pan.
Sprinkle the sugar over the top and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile whisk together the cream, creme fraiche, egg, sugar and vanilla extract. After the tart has baked for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and pour the mixture carefully over the top.
Baking the french apple tart
Bake for another 15 minutes in the oven. For a deep golden brown colour, turn up the temperature to 200 degrees and leave for 5 more minutes.
Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.
You can sprinkle the tart with icing sugar, this is optional as it doesn't add to the taste but just makes the tart look prettier😉 The tart is served best still slightly warm on the day it's made but can be eaten chilled during the next three days.
To jazz it up, add a drop of creme fraiche on the side and a few thinly sliced apples to give it freshness. Vanilla ice cream would go well with it too. For the winter months you can add whipped cream or a bit vanilla sauce.
However you choose to enjoy this delicious French Apple Tart Recipe, don't forget to tell us all about it! As a Chef, I appreciate feedback on how the recipe turned out, so please leave a comment below or even better post a picture and tag @between2kitchens on Instagram😃
Baking is your passion? Try next our Baked Ricotta Cheesecake with Figs or this german plum cake.
Grandma's Simple French Apple Tart Recipe
For The Dough
- 200 g plain flour
- 125 g unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- 25 g sugar
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon water
For the Apples
- 900 g granny smith apples, any sour tasting apple will do
- 25 g sugar
For the Filling
- 150 ml cream
- 50 g creme fraiche
- 75 g sugar
- 2 eggs
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla essence
For the Dough
- Mix flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Refer to detailed steps outlined in the blog
- Add the egg and water and continue mixing until combined. Add a splash of water if the dough feels dry, add more flour if the dough feels wet.
- Remove the dough and knead carefully on a floured, cold surface until the dough comes together. Shape into a disc and wrap in cling film. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a cold surface (or floured silicon mat) into 3mm thickness.
- Place into the centre of a 30 cm pastry pan. Press the dough gently across the bottom and sides and remove the excess dough with a knife. Place in the fridge.
For the Apples
- Preheat the oven to 180° degrees. Peel the apples and remove the core. Cut the apples in 1 cm thick slices.
- Arrange the apples in a circle inside the unbaked pastry pan starting from the outside to inside. Sprinkle sugar over the apples and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
For the Filling
- In a bowl whisk together the creme, creme fraiche, sugar, eggs and vanilla essence.
- Once the tart has baked for 25 minutes remove from the oven and carefully pour the filling over the apples. Refer to detailed steps outlined in the blog
- Place the tart back in the oven and cook for another 15 minutes. Change the temperature to 200° degrees and bake for another 5 minutes to give the tart a golden brown colour on the top.
- Cool at room temperature and serve warm. Refer to more serving options outlined in the blog