American Apple Tart Recipe

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A Rustic American Apple Tart with a Crispy, Buttery Pie-Style Crust

Santa Cruz, California. Autumn. We are headed to apple country to look for apples for a rustic American style apple tart. Not many people think of Santa Cruz as an apple growing region, but apples are actually a very important crop in this area. Watsonville, the town at the south end of Santa Cruz County, is home to Martinelli’s, the sparkling apple cider company. So we don’t have to go far the shop local for apples.

Apple tart
Apple tart

The weather near the ocean gives this region the perfect climate for the variety of apples needed for cider, which are also good for making tarts. Some of the local farms in the area are open for a visit this time of year and sell apples at their stands. And that is a great excuse for a drive in the country.


Even though I grew up on Gramma’s pies, I prefer making tarts. We both like the ratio of fruit to crust and the way an open faced tart bakes the fruit to a golden brown. I use a crust that is more like an American pie crust than a French tart cookie crust, so this is more of an American, or even rustic tart.

This is an all butter crust with half of the butter browned, to give the crust a richer taste. I brown the butter ahead of time and then store it in the refrigerator to harden it up. Browning it removes some of the water, so I add some liquid back by adding some maple syrup. It’s important to have a dough that is wet enough to be rolled out, but not too much or it will be tough. The alcohol makes rolling the pie dough easier and then evaporates to leave the crust crispy. I use something that goes with the flavor of the pie, in this case bourbon, but any alcohol that is around 80 proof will work.

I am very careful with the measurements for the crust. But the ingredients that are added to the fruit may need to be adjusted depending on the size of the fruit and the sweetness.

We have listed the brands for some of the ingredients because ingredients are everything. We have found that these brands give superior results. And by using brands like Horizon dairy products and Wholesome sugar we cut our carbon footprint in half and are helping to control climate change.

We use produce from the farmer’s market or a local farm stand. Locally grown fruit makes all the difference. Farmers who sell locally choose which variety to grow based on flavor instead of how well it survives transport and storage. It is picked when ripe, often just the day before, or the day of the market, so it tastes incredible. Buying local also creates a smaller carbon footprint in transportation, and it helps our local economy, giving jobs to people in our community.

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Apple tart
Apple tart
Apple tart
Apple tart


Prep Time: 1 hour
Course: Dessert
Keyword: apple tart


  • food processor
  • tart pan



  • Brown about 60 grams of butter and allow to cool until solid before starting the tart. This can be done days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.
  • Put 90 grams of the flour in the food processor and reserve the rest. Add the sugar and pulse once or twice.
  • Slice the 85 grams of butter and the 54 grams of browned butter into 1/4 inch pieces and add to the flour and sugar in the food processor.
  • Process until the dough starts to look like large cottage cheese, about ten seconds.
  • Scrape down the bowl, add the rest of the flour and the maple syrup and pulse a few times.
  • Put the flour mixture into a bowl.
  • Combine the bourbon and water and sprinkle over the flour mixture.
  • Using a spatula, press the mixture together.
  • Press the mixture into a compact, 4 inch disk wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour, or overnight.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out between two pieces of lightly floured parchment paper until it is about 1/8 inch thick and will fill the tart with a little overhang.
  • Transfer it to the tart pan. Work it down into the shape of the pan without stretching the dough.
  • Refrigerate the tart for an hour or overnight. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the tarts to cut off the excess dough.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Peel, core, and slice the apples and arrange in circles in the tart with each slice overlapping.
  • Mix flour, sugar and cinnamon together and spread over the apples. Cut the butter in pieces and distribute over the top of the tart.
  • Sprinkle sugar over the top.
  • Bake until light brown and crisp, about 30 minutes.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

This is one of the things we discovered while traveling and recreated when we got back home. We researched the science and techniques behind the recipe and used tips from exceptional chefs. Then we used the best ingredients we could find to create this recipe. For more ideas, see our other posts about recipes inspired by travel.

browned butter
Check out this recipe
browned butter
Check out this recipe

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