I’ll never turn down a slice of apple pie, but baking an apple tart instead of a traditional pie is a great way to up your apple dessert game. This Apple Normandy Tart is my version of a French classic. It has a tender shortcrust pastry base, an almond filling that is spiked with a touch of apple brandy and a layer of thinly sliced apples on top.
The crust and the filling are both made in the food processor. The crust should be made at least two hours in advance, so that it has time to rest in the refrigerator before you need to roll it out. This resting period will help ensure that the pastry holds its shape in the oven. You can also prepare the crust the night before, which is a nice way to save a little time.
The filling is made with almonds, sugar, eggs, vanilla and Calvados. The apple brandy (there are American apple brandies like Laird’s that can be substituted, too) adds a subtle apple flavor that ties the almond filling in nicely with the apples, but you can use a bit of almond extract to amp up the almond flavor if you prefer not to use the brandy. Some versions of this tart call for almond paste, which can create an even firmer almond layer. I prefer the almonds + sugar method because it is much easier to put together, as almond paste is not a terribly common ingredient in my neck of the woods. The filling can be prepared a day in advance or right before you want to use it.
The apples are the finishing touch on this tart. They must be cut very thin to get the right look for the finished tart – and to ensure that they bake completely in the oven. They should not be more than 1/8-inch thick. I try to keep my apple slices about the same size, so I generally eat any end pieces (which may be wedge-shaped) or other oddballs while I work.
I like apples that are crisp, but not overly tart for this particular tart. Fujis and Honey Crisps are two of my favorites, but Granny Smith will also work if you enjoy that tart apple flavor. The recipe will work with a wide variety of apples, though I wouldn’t recommend any that have a soft or mealy texture, as they don’t usually hold up well to any kind of baking. You’ll need at 3 good sized apples to finish the top of the tart. If your apples are medium-large, 3 will be enough. If they are on the smaller side, you might want to cut up 4 apples. You may have a few slices leftover after arranging them, but it is better to have extra apples than have to stop and cut up more while you’re assembling your dessert.
The tart is gorgeous when it is finished. The almond filling has a great flavor and is not overly sweet. The apples are tender and still slightly juicy. Both contrast well with the crisp, tender pastry crust. This dessert can be served as soon as it cools, or it can be refrigerated until you’re ready to serve. It keeps quite well, so you’ll be able to enjoy leftovers for a couple of days.
Apple Normandy Tart
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into 6-8 pieces
1 large egg yolk
3-4 tbsp water
1 cup almond flour/ground almonds
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Calvados (apple brandy)
or 1/2 tsp almond extract
3-4 medium apples
1 tbsp coarse sugar
Make the Crust
In a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt, and pulse to combine. Add in butter and pulse until very well incorporated. Add in egg yolk and 3 tbsp water and run the machine until the dough comes together. IF necessary, add in additional tablespoon of water to bring dough together.
Shape dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
In the food processor, combine almond flour, sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla and apple brandy (or almond extract, if using). Whizz until well combined and smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
Peel and core apples. Halve the apples and cut each half into slices that are about 1/8-inch thick.
Assembly and Baking
Preheat oven to 400F.
Roll out tart dough on a lightly floured surface until it is large enough to fill a 10-inch tart pan. Transfer crust to pan and gently press into place. Cut off excess dough. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Spoon almond filling into chilled tart crust and spread into an even layer. Arrange apple slices in an overlapping pattern starting at the outside edge of the tart crust, spiraling them in towards the center. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake tart for 20 minutes at 400F. Lower oven temperature to 350F without opening the oven door and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes, until the apple slices begin to brown and the crust is very deep golden.