Sheet Pan

Brown Butter Apple Tart

January 27, 2015
Photo by Phyllis Grant
Author Notes

This is inspired by an apple tart that my father had in Paris many years ago. If possible, cook it on a pizza stone. This allows the crust to get quite crisp. The apples are so thinly sliced that they cook quickly. Make sure to leave on the skin because the border of the apple slices brown nicely in the oven.

Just know that in order to make lovely apple circles, you will need to sacrifice at least half of each apple. Just plan on using the scraps for a compote or snacking. You can even julienne it up right away, toss with lemon juice, and save for a salad. Or not all of the slices have to be circles. Up to you. In the photo above, I've used only circles. But you could also play with making a pattern with all different shaped slices.

Serve with vanilla bean ice cream or crème fraîche. Alternatively, this tart makes a great dinner alongside cheese and a tangy green salad. —Phyllis Grant

  • Serves 6
  • 1 recipe of your favorite tart or pie dough (or puff pastry)
  • 6 to 8 Granny Smith apples
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, halved and scraped of its seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 3 tablespoons apricot jam, any large chunks of fruit finely chopped up
In This Recipe
  1. Take your dough out of the fridge 20 minutes before rolling it out (or 1 hour before if it's in the freezer).
  2. Heat your oven to 450° F. Place your pizza stone or sheet pan in the oven to warm up. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Swirl it around a few times. It will foam and spatter. After 3 to 4 minutes, it will start to smell nutty. Don’t walk away. It’s ready when the sizzling quiets down and you see little brown bits drop to the bottom of the pan. Cool. Whisk in vanilla bean seeds and extract.
  3. Cut a piece of parchment paper that's about a 10-inch square. Roll out your dough into about a 12-inch round. It doesn't need to be perfect -- you're going to fold over the edges. Roll dough onto your rolling pin. Unroll dough onto the piece of parchment.
  4. Using a very sharp knife or a mandoline, with the apple stem facing north, very thinly slice about 5 circles off of two opposing sides of the apple. Stop once you hit the core. Repeat with the remaining apples. Save remaining apple and the outermost discs with lots of skin for applesauce or some other use.
  5. Starting about 2 inches in from the border of the rolled out dough, make a circle with the apple discs, having them overlap. Continue with a second layer that overlaps the bigger circle. Do a third and smaller circle. And a fourth. Finish it off with a few discs in the middle in a flower pattern. Paint all exposed apple surface with the brown butter vanilla mixture. Fold the outer border of the dough in to enclose about half of the exterior edge of the outermost apple discs. Let it be funky!
  6. Whisk together egg and heavy cream. Paint exposed border of dough with a thin layer of egg wash. Refrigerate any leftover egg wash and save for your next tart or pie (it will last a few days). Generously sprinkle the turbinado sugar all over the apples and the egg-washed dough.
  7. Remove hot pizza stone or sheet pan from the oven. Quickly slide the tart (keeping it on the parchment) onto the hot surface. Bake until apples are golden brown and the crust is crisp, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Warm up the apricot jam. Using a pastry brush, paint surface of the cooked apples with warm jam. Serve immediately.

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Phyllis Grant is an IACP finalist for Personal Essays/Memoir Writing and a three-time Saveur Food Blog Awards finalist for her blog, Dash and Bella. Her essays and recipes have been published in a dozen anthologies and cookbooks including Best Food Writing 2015 and 2016. Her work has been featured both in print and online for various outlets, including Oprah, The New York Times, Food52, Saveur, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Tasting Table and Salon. Her memoir with recipes, Everything Is Out of Control, is coming out April 2020 from Farrar Straus & Giroux. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.