the moveable feasts

Simple Apple Tart

with 21 comments


I realize this simple, beautiful tart is a little démodé at the moment, seeing as Thanksgiving has now passed and humble tarts made from fruit (or vegetables for that matter) are easily given up for the charms and glitter of Christmas treats.

–Before I move on, I have to say a note about my use of the word “démodé”–it’s french for out-of-date, or out-of-style. Could I have just written that instead of using some pretentious-sounding french word, and thereby avoid this whole messy business? Why yes, I could have, but I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but my francophile tendencies have taken on a new level and I’ve been enrolled in a French 101 course at my university since September. It’s lovely. And I just learned the word démodé today, and I am pleased that I found a way to put it into a post here. So no bringing me down, you (probably nonexistent) critics!–

it helps to keep them together
in the tart pan, sprinkled with sugar

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the transition from idyllic tarts and pies made from the fruits of the Earth to Christmas-craze candies and treats. Now, I understand the only currency accepted at the moment comes in the form of chocolate, butter cookies, and royal icing, but this tart is something so very classic and simple that I feel like it’s important to share even if it’s a little out of place. I first found it on the Smitten Kitchen website (please head over there if you want to see some beautiful photos of a beautiful tart), and then was reminded of it in Luisa’s My Berlin Kitchen. I loved it for the same reason they did, and you don’t have to look beyond the ingredient list to see just what that reason is: this tart is made simple of a pastry, apples, some butter, and sugar. It tastes of apples–made more appely-tasting by the glaze made from the apple peels and cores that are reduced down with a simple syrup–wrapped up in some flaky, buttery pastry. It’s wonderful and I don’t know if there’s any part about it that I would want to change.

I absolutely do not judge you one bit if you see this tart, accept it for its simplicity and charm, and move on to get to more important things, like what type of roast you’re going to plan for Christmas, or what homemade treats you’re going to hand out in the next couple weeks. (Speaking of homemade treats, I recently made these snickerdoodles, which were awesome, as well as these chocolate crinkle cookies. Both are very fitting if cookies are what you’re in the mood for.) But once the buzz of the Christmas season passes (whine), please don’t shrug this recipe away, mostly because it’s hardly a recipe at all. This is a straightforward and intuitive dessert that is both elegant and humble, which is honestly sometimes hard to come by. So when you are lucky enough to come by it, keep it and remember it for the future.

lots of sun in this picture
a slice, being eaten

One Year Ago: Dorie Greenspan’s Rustic French Apple Custard Cake

Simple Apple Tart
From Jacque Pepin, via Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, via Smitten Kitchen, via My Berlin Kitchen
Makes one 9-inch tart

1 single-crust pie dough round, chilled

2 pounds Golden Delicious apples
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar, divided

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch tart pan with butter; set aside. Peel, halve, and core the apples, then slice them into about 1/8-inch slices. It helps to keep the slices all together, in order (as in don’t just slice them and throw them in a bowl). While you do this, make sure to reserve the peels, cores, and any excess apple parts. They will be reduced with a syrup to glaze the tart later.

Roll out the chilled disk of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14-inch circle, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Carefully place and fit dough in the greased tart pan, letting the excess dough hang off the sides. Overlap the sliced apples in the pan, starting at the edges of the pan. Keep fanning out the slices and continue inward until all areas are filled. It’s important to note that the apples will soften and shrink a bit while baking, so don’t hesitate to pack them in pretty tightly. Fold any overhanging excess dough over the pan back on to itself and the apples. Brush the melted butter over the apples and the edges of the pastry. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the sugar over the edges of the dough and 2 tablespoons over the apples.
Bake in the preheated oven until the apples are soft, browning at the edges, and the crust is a deep golden brown, about 45 minutes.

While the tart is baking, put the reserved peels and cores in a saucepan, along with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Pour in enough water to just cover the apple parts, about 1/2 cup. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and continue simmer for about 25 minutes until it’s a smooth glaze. Strain syrup to remove the apple parts.

Once the tart is removed from the oven, slide onto a cooling rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Then, using a pastry brush, brush the glaze over the apples. Serve warm or at room temperature.

2 out of 3 thanksgiving desserts!

Written by Amy

December 2, 2012 at 10:00 am

Posted in Pies and Tarts

Tagged with , ,

21 Responses

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  1. Simple, and much more elegant than the Easy Apple Pies I posted on my blog late last week. I love this time of year, plenty of apples to cook with.

    This American Bite

    December 2, 2012 at 11:59 am

  2. I have to say I think your photo is the most appealing one of them all. Simply gorgeous, and since I still have not made one apple dessert yet this season, I think this tart may be in my future!.

    • Ah thanks, Sue. This tart really shows off apples and nothing else so that wouldn’t be a bad idea if you haven’t baked with them yet!


      December 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

  3. This apple tart is just beautiful! Love it!

    Alice Choi (@HipFoodieMom1)

    December 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm

  4. You are taking French! What a wonderful way to spice up your senior year. I’m taking German now (ugh!), but I keep thinking that even though German is more useful that I should take Italian instead. I LOVE Italy. I love every thing about it. I love the culture. I love the food. I love the people. (Okay so I’ve just convinced myself to at least get a language CD for myself for Christmas). Anyway, please continue to slip in your new French words and sayings. I love hearing them. How are you with the accent and pronunciation? I think that would be the hardest part of French.

    This tart is beautiful Amy. I’ve had a simple apple tart on my list for a while. Ali ( and Darcy ( both inspired me with their similarly beautiful tarts. I am a sucker for geometric apple arrangement I think and perhaps for a short ingredient list. I think it would be perfect for a pre-Christmas dinner party. Thanks for sharing!


    December 2, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    • Ah, you should learn italian! Really!! Ideally I would love to become fluent in Spanish, Italian and French–I just love those romantic languages (and countries). And even though I know I the chances of that happening in this lifetime are probably something like a million to one, one has to hope, don’t they? So I’ll keep hoping and you keep practicing Italian!


      December 3, 2012 at 9:17 pm

  5. There’s always a time and place for apple pie in my life and much prefer this to anything candy cane related! Congratulations on your French classes too – can we expect to see lots more French recipes up here from now on? :-)


    December 3, 2012 at 2:14 am

    • Haha, oh you know I’ll use any excuse to make more French desserts! And I’m with you–I’d pick a fruit tart over candy any day.


      December 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm

  6. What a beauty! I love how few ingredients it has. I also love throwing in ostentatious terms here and there – my favourite French one currently is outré.


    December 3, 2012 at 2:39 am

    • Oh VERY cool, I like that word a lot. How about we make a deal–every time I use a French word you teach me a new one? ;)


      December 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm

  7. No no, rustic is wonderful. Beautiful tart, Amy! I like the pure simplicity of the ingredients. It’s not often you find an apple dessert that doesn’t call for cinnamon.

    And it’s awesome that you’re fulfilling your francophile dreams of learning French. I went through a period in college where I wanted to learn German. Unfortunately, nothing’s stuck, but it did come in handy when I visited after graduating. And unlike Germans, a lot of the French can’t really seem to speak English.


    December 3, 2012 at 7:35 am

    • Haha, yeah there’s definitely logic with that. My sister went through a German thing like you (she might still be in it…or maybe it’s shifted to Italian. Hmm who knows). When she told me she was going to study German I just responded with, “you know you’ll never use that, right?” Haha, oh well, what’s college if not for haphazardly learning new things.


      December 3, 2012 at 9:20 pm

  8. such a pretty dessert. i love rustic classics like this!

    Little Kitchie

    December 3, 2012 at 7:42 am

  9. I’ve had this tart bookmarked from the Smitten Kitchen post for ages now, and when looking through my long, long list, I always pass it up, sort of wondering why I bookmarked it in the first place. But you’ve managed to convince me of its appeal again. I just wish I could find the time to make it sooner rather than later!


    December 4, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    • Haha, that was exactly me too. It was Luisa’s book that pushed me into action (and Thanksgiving). Now that I’ve made it though, I hope it’s one of those things that I don’t have to think about to make again. Good luck with finding time! :)


      December 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm

  10. This is beaaaaaautiful!!


    December 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm

  11. […] Simple Apple Tart ( […]

  12. Beautiful. Simple. Elegant.

    Hardly démodé.

    Hot Pink Manolos

    December 12, 2012 at 2:57 pm

  13. […] a constant basis. And in case you’re wondering, it’s not really any different from this simple apple tart. It’s just a bit easier (ahem lazier) because instead of making an apple syrup you just glaze […]

  14. […] Simple Apple Tart ( […]

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