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French Apple Tart & Cinnamon Snails

Posted Sep 19 2012 10:59pm

French apple tart, just baked

If you struggle with anger management, this post might be a good one to skip. Just send it straight to your trash can if you’re reading via email; just skip back to the grilled cheese or the French toast , if you’ve happened upon here via google. At apple-rosette attempt three, I envisioned flinging this tart frisbie style straight into my tv; at apple-rosette attempt five, I imagined raising it above my head, slamming it straight down, and splattering it all over my kitchen floor.

Fortunately — and I never imagined saying this — I have a child that drives me to read self-help books. I put myself in a timeout for two minutes (grossly ignoring the minute-per-year-of-age rule, which would have had me sitting for half an hour), during which I took a few deep breaths and told myself to let the apple rosettes go.

When I came out of my quiet time, ready to be a nice girl again, I set to work. Within minutes the tart shell brimmed with fanned apple slices, not quite so pretty as Saveur’s , but pretty nonetheless. And best of all, not too pretty to eat.

French apple tart, glazed

In the Cuisinart, this tart dough comes together in seconds:
tart dough, made in Cuisinart

tart dough

Just as I set out to work, someone ran off with my tart pan. Fortunately, I have another.
Ella's tart pan

laying dough into tart pan

Both the dough and the assembled tart shell must chill for one hour, which allows for plenty of time to peel and slice the apples as well as to make the cinnamon snails with the leftover dough.
tart shell

halved apples

apple-filled tart

tart, ready for the oven

French apple tart, glazed


1. I am so so happy I finally got around to making this tart, which is as delicious as beautiful. And, despite my frustrations expressed above, the tart truly is not complicated to assemble. Peeling, coring and slicing the apples is time consuming, but the effort is worth the reward. I advise taking a look at the Saveur slideshow , which is detailed, inspiring and helpful even if you don’t end up making the rosettes.

2. I added a thin thin layer of frangipane to the bottom of the tart shell before filling it with apples. I love the flavor of a layer of frangipane in this sort of dessert, but it is by all means optional. I have included a recipe for the smallest batch of frangipane I know how to produce, but unfortunately, you will have leftover frangipane. Fortunately, it keeps well in the fridge and freezes well, too … you can always just make another tart.

3. While the apricot glaze gives the final tart a nice sheen, I think I prefer it without it. For me, it doesn’t offer much flavor wise, it’s an extra step, and truthfully, the apricot-glazed look reminds me of the often inedible tarts filling glass-cased display shelves in mediocre pastry shops. You can make the call when the tart comes out of the oven. Personally, I prefer the unglazed look.

French Apple Tart
Adapted from Saveur

1 1/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon sugar (optional — this is my addition. I love a little sugar in a tart shell.)
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, divided
1/4 tsp. table salt
7 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and halved*
1/4 cup sugar

frangipane (optional, recipe below)

1/2 cup apricot jam, optional (see note above)

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

*I used Pink Lady apples, and I needed about 5 for my 9-inch tart pan.

Making the tart:

1. Combine flour, sugar, 8 tbsp. butter, and salt in a food processor and pulse until pea­size crumbles form, about 10 pulses. Drizzle in 3 tbsp. ice­cold water and pulse until dough is moistened, about 3—4 pulses. (Do not pulse so much that the dough forms a mass — see the photo above with the food processor. It will clump together when you form it into a disk.) Transfer dough to a work surface and form into a flat disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (Note: This can be made up to three days in advance.)

2. Unwrap dough and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, flatten dough into a 13″ circle and then transfer to a 11″ tart pan with a removable bottom; trim edges; chill for 1 hour. (Note: My tart pan was 9 inches, but I still rolled it out to about 13 inches.)

3. Heat oven to 375º. It is helpful to flip through the slideshow on Saveur before beginning this step. Also, if you’re using the frangipane, spread a thin layer (about 2 tablespoons) of it across the bottom surface of your tart shell. Working with one apple half at a time, thinly slice into sections, keeping slices together. Press sliced apple half gently to fan it out; repeat with remaining apple halves. Place 1 fanned apple half on outer edge of the tart dough, pointing inward; repeat with 7 more apple halves (or as many as you are able to fit — with a smaller tart pan, you won’t be able to fit as many). Separate remaining apple slices. Starting where the apple halves touch and working your way in, layer apples to create a tight rose pattern. Fill in any gaps with remaining apple.

4. Sprinkle with sugar (I did not use the full 1/4 cup. Use as much or as little as you like. If your apples are really sweet, you won’t need a full 1/4 cup; if you’re using a 9-inch tart pan, you also likely won’t need a full 1/4 cup.) Dot with remaining butter — this seems like a lot of butter, and you certainly could cut back, but I think it adds flavor. Bake until golden brown, 60—70 minutes. (I did 70.)

5. If you’re doing the apricot glaze: heat apricot jam in a small saucepan until warmed and loose; pour through a fine strainer into a small bowl and set aside. Transfer tart to a wire rack; using a pastry brush, brush top of tart with jam. Let cool completely before slicing and serving with whipped cream.


1 scant cup almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1 egg
1 tablespoon brandy, rum, or bourbon (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor, combine almond flour, sugar, salt, butter and egg. Pulse until combined, then add alcohol if desired. Pulse until smooth. Transfer to a storage container and chill until ready to use.

Making the cinnamon snails:
making the cinnamon snails

cinnamon snails, made with leftover dough

Cinnamon Snails

leftover pie dough
softened butter
cinnamon and sugar

1. Roll out pie dough scraps into a rectangle. Spread with a layer of butter. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar. Roll into a spiral. Cut crosswise into slices. Bake at 375º for 10 to 15 minutes — just keep an eye on them; they brown quickly at the end.

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