Tart aux Pommes (French Apple Tart)

This tart is one that you could (ok, and I have) flipped by in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It’s essentially apple compote in a tart crust, topped with more apples. So, if you love apples, you’d really love this tart! If not, maybe move on to more exciting endeavors.

We’re reminded of a few principles of pectin and cooking fruit when making the compote: not adding sugar from the start will allow the apples for the compote to break down more. Add the sugar later in the process allows for more control over how sweet the compote is, too.

The pate sucree is the same one that has appeared in the tart aux fraises and apple frangipane tart here and here. Both are classic tarts to master, along with this one – again – if you adore apples!

I highly recommend serving this with whipped cream (unsweetened suited our tastes) or creme fraiche. The tart needs a bit of contrast. I also recommend not adding cinnamon to the compote. This may be controversial, but it’s nice to keep with tradition other than American in some cases. I think the whole point of this tart is to celebrate apple and uplift it – not to accompany it with strong aromatics.

With that said, you can use any apple you want, but I encourage you to make the tart with a sweet and tart apple combo. I used Fuji and Pink Lady, which both are great, but I found almost both too sweet and not tart enough. Bust out those heirloom apples next fall, and you’ll be rewarded.

Tart Aux Pommes (French Apple Tart)

Makes one 9.5″ to 10″ tart, serving 8-12

Adapted from Julia Child

Apple Compote Filling

  • 8 cups apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice, or to taste
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 3 TB unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup brandy or calvados
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  1. Place apples and a splash of water in a medium sauce pan. Place lid on, and cook on medium for 20 minutes. Stir after 20 minutes, and continue to cook with lid on until apples are tender and able to be mashed.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, and cook while stirring until a thick compote that sticks to the spoon forms.
  3. Allow to cool, and if preparing ahead, cover and refrigerate up to 1 week.

Apple Topping

  • 2-3 cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 2 TB melted butter

Pate Sucree (recipe makes enough for about 2 tart shells)

  • 6oz (168g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp (1.4g) fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (112g) powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup (39g) almond flour
  • 1 extra large egg (83g); you can use a large egg and add water to get to 63g
  • 2 7/8 cup (325g) all-purpose flour

Serving

  • 2-3 TB apricot jam or marmalade (optional)
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

Prepare Pate Sucree (at least 1 day ahead) & Partially Blind Bake (up to 1 day ahead)

  1. Measure the butter and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit mixer with paddle attachment (you can also make this by hand with elbow grease and a wood spoon).
  2. Sift then measure the powdered sugar, almond flour and all purpose flour into separate bowls and set aside.
  3. Crack the egg, and mix with a fork to combine the yolk and white. Measure out 63g. Add a tsp or two more of water to get to 63g if necessary – eggs vary in size.
  4. Mix the butter on LOW speed to incorporate the salt. Take care to mix on low so as to not incorporate air into the butter, as this will cause cracks and bubbling of your crust. Stop the mixer, scrape down the paddle and bowl sides and bottom.
  5. Add the powdered sugar, and mix again for a minute on low. Scrape the bowl and paddle. Add the almond flour, mix again for a minute on low, and scrape the bowl and paddle.
  6. With the mixer on low, add the egg gradually. Mix for a moment to incorporate, then stop and scrape everything down again. Add ⅓ of the flour and mix on low. Add the remaining flour, and mix just until everything is combined.
  7. Finish mixing and scraping the bowl by hand with the spatula, making sure all the flour is incorporated.
  8. Scrape out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Cover the dough, then use your hands too quickly and gently form into a disc shape that is ½” to 1” thick. Wrap thoroughly, and place in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Dough may be frozen for a few months, if tightly wrapped and placed into a freezer-safe ziplock back or other container with minimal headspace to prevent moisture loss (freezer burn).
  9. To roll, allow refrigerated dough to come to room temperature for 5-10 minutes (taking care if your kitchen is hot – the dough will become hard to manage). Whack the wrapped disc of dough a few times across both sides to help loosen up the structure. If you notice a lot of cracking, let the dough sit for a moment before proceeding
  10. Lightly dust a surface large enough to roll with flour. Unwrap the dough, and place on the floured area.
  11. Using a firm motion, starting from the center of the dough disc, roll directly away from you. Gently pick up the dough, just enough to slide and move it, and rotate it ¼ turn. Repeat this process, adding more flour as needed to the counter and the rolling pin to prevent sticking, until you reach ¼” thickness. Be sure to apply smooth and even pressure. Take care to not lift up or press down more at the edge of the dough – that will result in edges that are too thick or too thin.
  12. To transfer into the tart ring, gently roll-up the dough onto the rolling pin, and lay into the tart ring.
  13. Gently hold the edge of the dough with one hand, and with the other gently fit the dough into the corner of the tart ring. Work your way around the pan, allowing the excess to hang over the edge of the ring. If rips or tears happen, patch them up with the excess dough. You will have extra dough – save it for another use (will last up to a few months tightly wrapped in freezer, and is enough for one more tart shell that is slightly thinner than 1/4″ thick).
  14. Using your fingers, gently press off against the side of the pan the extra dough. Go around the pan one time to make sure the sides of the dough are flush to the tart ring edge, and into the corner of the tart ring. I like to use a measuring cup edge to gently press into the edges to make sure they are flush to the pan. Poke the pastry bottom and sides with a fork (docking) to help steam escape as the tart shell bakes.
  15. Transfer the pastry shell onto a baking sheet, and into the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to overnight, uncovered.

Partial Blind Bake: 

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line the refrigerated tart with aluminum foil or parchment paper, making sure to fit the foil or paper flush onto the dough. Fill with dried beans or rice.
  2. Bake in the middle rack of the oven at 325F for 15 minutes.
  3. After 15 minutes, gently remove the foil/paper with weights, and return to the oven to finish baking for another 10 minutes. The shell should not be super brown, since it will continue to bake with the apple filling.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before filling.

Fill, top & bake tart:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spread apple compote evenly into the tart shell, and then top with the sliced apple topping, creating a decorative layer or just neatly piling them on.
  2. Bake the tart in the upper 1/3 of the oven for 30-40 minutes, until apples are browned and tender. Optionally broil for a few minutes to deepen the color. If you find the edges of the pastry are getting too brown, you can shield/tent the edges with foil. Remove from oven.
  3. Heat apricot jam or orange marmalade, and brush over the still warm apple topping (optional, but creates a nice glaze). Once cool, remove tart from ring by placing in on a can, allowing the ring to drop away from the tart (see below photo!)

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