When you think of fall baking, French apple tart might not come to mind. Fall is the season for pie, and apple pie specifically. Fall desserts tend toward the homey and rustic, like classic fruit pies topped with a rumpled, burnished double crust. Or perhaps you're pulling out the baking pan to make an apple crisp, sweet with cinnamon and topped with a crunchy layer of sugared oat streusel.

This year, I'd encourage you to think beyond pumpkin pie and cranberry orange scones. Those simple recipes are wonderful, but it's nice to master something new. This particular recipe for French Apple Tart is strikingly sophisticated-looking, but actually easier to put together than a basic apple pie.

French apple tart via @kingarthurflour

The secret behind its simplicity: a press-in crust. Instead of a classic pie crust, you'll mix together a sweet pastry dough (a food processor or a stand mixer makes this even easier), which you press into your tart pan with your fingertips. There's no cutting in of butter, no rolling out of the dough, no careful crimping of the edges.

The crisp, sweet crust is filled with a nutty, creamy frangipane. Made from eggs, almond flour, and sugar, the frangipane bakes into a dense, moist layer with a strong almond flavor. Thin slices of apple top the pie. The circles of apple give the pie a fancy, decorative touch without any complicated crust techniques!

Here's how to make a French apple tart:

Step 1: The crust

To make the crust you'll need:

2/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together all the ingredients. It's helpful to do this in a food processor or stand mixer, but you can do it by hand, as well. The dough will come together in a ball. Once it's smooth, drop spoonfuls of the dough into a greased 9" tart pan.

French apple tart via @kingarthurflour

Using your fingertips, press the dough into the base of the pan and up the sides in an even layer. Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling.

Step 2: The filling

While the crust chills, make the frangipane filling. Traditionally made of blanched ground almonds, eggs, and sugar, frangipane is an excellent and easy way to elevate a fruit pie. It adds a layer of flavor and texture, but is so much simpler to make than a custard filling.

Here, you'll use almond flour (a nice shortcut to grinding your own almonds). A touch of all-purpose flour helps to keep the filling light yet firm. You'll need:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 to 2 medium apples, cored, peeled or unpeeled, thinly sliced

French apple tart via @kingarthurflour

French apple tart via @kingarthurflour

Spread the filling in the chilled crust. Arrange the apple slices neatly in circles, pressing them gently into the frangipane. You can peel the apples or leave them unpeeled. I like leaving the peel on to show a small slice of color.

French apple tart via @kingarthurflour

Step 3: Bake your French Apple Tart

Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes. The tart is ready when the edges of the crust begin to brown and the frangipane puffs up slightly.

Once baked, the frangipane firms but stays wonderfully moist. The apple slices soften slightly in the oven, just like in a classic apple pie.

French apple tart via @kingarthurflour

Serve this tart warm or chilled. It's delicious with a dollop of whipped cream (add a dash of cinnamon!) or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Consider it a new addition to your fall baking repertoire, and a perfect way to impress at a dinner party.

You can find the full recipe here, including a printable version.

Posie Brien
The Author

About Posie Brien

Posie grew up on a farm in Maryland and spent her summers in Vermont. As an editor for King Arthur and Sift magazine, she feels lucky to bake every day and connect through writing. She loves homemade bread warm from the oven, raw milk cream, and apple crisp with extra streusel topping.

View all posts by Posie Brien