French Apple Tart, Tarte Normande, is a French dessert that features signature ingredients from the northern region of the country. Apples, apple brandy, cream, and butter combine in a delicious dessert that is as simple to make as it is elegant to look at.
What is a Tarte Normande?
A “tarte Normande”, also called “tarte Normande aux pommes” or “tarte de pommes a la Normande” is a French tarte made with apples that comes from the Normandy region in the northwest of France.
What makes a Norman Tart?
The region of Normandy is know for its apples and dairy, so dishes done in the Norman style typically include these ingredients (like Chicken Normandy).
In the case of this tart the Normandy style means that a buttery shortcrust pastry is filled with apples, an egg and cream custard, and Calvados.
What is Calvados?
Calvados is an apple or pear brandy that comes from the Normandy region.
Much like Champagne must be grown in the Champagne region of France to bear that name, Calvados must be grown and produced in Normandy to receive the name. Otherwise, it’s simply apple (or pear) brandy.
You could substitute another apple brandy for Calvados, if you have trouble finding it. Or, simply substitute a regular brandy or vanilla for equally good flavor, albeit a bit different from the traditional.
What is shortcrust pastry?
A shortcrust pastry is called pâte brisée in French. This buttery pastry dough is essentially a pie crust.
This pastry is made from simple ingredients: flour, water, fat, and salt.
It does not puff when it bakes, because it does not contain any leavening agents (baking powder, yeast, etc).
How to make a French apple tart
For all the allure that comes with the idea of making a French tart, a tarte Normande is actually quite a simple tart to make.
It uses easy ingredients (once you get your hands on some Calvados) and it doesn’t have to be perfect. It is quite an un-fussy dessert made for sharing with friends who understand that homemade treats are always a treat and don’t expect elegant perfection.
We really are talking simple preparation here.
- The shortcrust is mixed and simply pressed into the tart pan, so no rolling necessary.
- This crust doesn’t get par-baked, because the apples and custard are supposed to blend into the pastry. So chopped apples simply get arranged over the unbaked dough.
- Then the spiked custard mixture is poured over the apples.
- The whole thing is baked until golden, and then it is ready to be enjoyed!
Really, it’s more simple than an apple pie and even less putsy than scooping (or rolling) out cookie dough.
When you make it, you will be wondering why we don’t make tarts as our go-to dessert for family and dinner parties!
What apples to use for French apple tart?
When choosing apples for this apple tart, you want apples that are crisp and not overly sweet. (This tart in general focuses on the flavors of the apples and the brandy, and not on an overt sweetness.)
The apples you choose need to be ones that will hold their shape when baked. Getting that beautiful decorative fan of apple pieces or slices on the top is the main visual appeal of this tart. And, when you take a bite, you want the texture contrast of the crisp and crumbly crust, the smooth and creamy custard, and the sweet and juicy apples that have just the right amount of firmness. You definitely don’t want apple sauce or any mushy apples here.
What does this mean? You are looking for a firm baking apple with a good flavor. It can be slightly tart, but not too much so. Remember, we don’t want to have to go overboard on the sugar in here.
Our picks for apples in this tart are Crispin or Golden Delicious, or Pink Lady, Braeburn, Granny Smith, or Jonagold could also work well.
How to choose a tart pan for a French tart
When looking for a tart pan, you will find yourself with many choices.
In our opinions, non-stick, while a nice feature, isn’t necessary. You are, after all, typically just putting a fatty crust in there, so it should slide out nicely, no matter if the pan has been coated with a non-stick surface.
Our one non-negotiable is to get a tart pan with a removable bottom. This little feature allows for nicer presentation and easier serving of your tart.
Your biggest choice, by far, will be what size to choose. Like cookie cutters, you could stock a small pantry with all the different sizes of tart pans.
Our recipe below is scaled for a 9.5 inch tart pan. We found this size to be large enough to serve 6.
And, since this tart is so easy to make and best eaten the day it is made, you don’t need to have lots of leftovers.
Can I use a different size tart pan?
If you have, or would like to use a tart pan smaller than 9.5 inches, make the recipe as directed and simply use what you need to fill you pan.
If your pan is larger than 9.5 inches, then you may need to increase the ingredients slightly to fill your pan amply.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
For the shortcrust pastry
- 6 Tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup (50 g) powdered sugar
- 1 egg
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 1 ¼ cup (150 g) all-purpose flour
For the tart
- 3-4 apples, pink lady or other firm baking apple with good flavor
- ¾ cup (75 g) powdered sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup (118 ml) creme fraiche (or heavy cream)
- ¼ cup (59 ml) Calvados (or other apple brandy)
- powdered sugar (optional, for serving)
For the crust
- In a medium bowl, combine butter and ½ cup powdered sugar. Beat with an electric hand mixer until pale and creamy.
- Add the egg and beat again until fluffy.
- Add the salt and flour and mix just until the dough comes together into a soft ball. (This dough should not be too sticky.)
- Place the ball of dough into your tart pan and press the dough gently to fill the pan. Place the dough-lined pan in the refrigerator, while you prepare your filling ingredients.
- Preheat your oven to 400F (200C).
For the Filling
- Mix together ¾ c powdered sugar, 2 eggs, creme fraiche (or heavy cream), and Calvados (or other brandy). Set aside.
- Peel and slice apples into ⅜”-½” thick.
- Remove the crust from the refrigerator and arrange the slices over the dough in the tart pan. Place the pan on a lined baking sheet for easy transportation and to catch any spill-over.
- Pour the Calvados mixture over the apples in tart pan. (You may not use all of this mixture, just be conscious that you are not over-filling your pan.)
- Bake the tart for 35-40 minutes, until the cream is firm and the tart is a deep golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. (Sprinkle with powdered sugar once cool, if desired.)
- Typically Tarte Normande is served on its own, but you can add whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.
Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 330
If you liked this recipe, here are some similar dishes you may enjoy!
- Escalope de poulet à la Normande (Chicken Normandy)
- Brandy Apple Pie with an Oil Pie Crust
- Szarlotka (Polish Apple Pie)
- Apple Brown Betty
- Wiener Apfelstrudel (Viennese Apple Strudel)
- Sharlotka (Russian Apple Cake)
- Apfelkuchen (German Apple Cake)
- Apples Around The World
Sarah - Curious Cuisiniere
Sarah is one of Curious Cuisiniere’s founding duo. Her love for cultural cuisines was instilled early by her French Canadian Grandmother. Her experience in the kitchen and in recipe development comes from years working in professional kitchens. She has traveled extensively and enjoys bringing the flavors of her travels back to create easy-to-make recipes.