A new take on a classic recipe, this easy vegan French apple tart has a melt-in-your-mouth flaky crust, a simple vegan frangipane filling, and loads of sweet apple. This elegant dessert is easy to make and does not require rolling out pastry or peeling apples.
This post is sponsored by Organic Washington apples.
What is a Tarte Normade?
A French apple tart, Tarte Normade or Normandy Tart is a pastry-based dessert originating from France. This dessert is made up of a single pâte brisée layer, compote or frangipane filling, and plenty of beautifully arranged apples.
There are many variations of the French apple tart; some include frangipane (a custard-like mixture of almond, eggs and butter), while other variations include apple compote or simply butter and sugar.
Traditionally, the pastry (or pâte brisée) is combined with egg yolk to form a harder cookie-like texture. However, French apple tarts can also made with puff pastry or short crust pastry.
A Traditional Apple Tart Made Vegan
This vegan version of the French apple tart boasts an incredibly flaky short crust pastry shell, a simple vegan frangipane filling, and beautiful apples fans. This recipe is a showstopper!
I love apple desserts, there is no question about it. Apples are my favourite fruit to bake with because they are available year round whether fresh from the orchard or from storage.
Apples also provide texture, sweetness, and nutrition in a recipe and can be combined with a plethora of other ingredients, or act as the star of the show; this vegan French apple tart is a good example of that.
Below I've included some helpful tips on making this recipe and notes for substitutions, if necessary.
This Recipe Is
- Vegan (egg-free and dairy-free)
- Flaky and sweet
- Comforting and aromatic
- Classic and elegant yet rustic
- Made from everyday staple ingredients
- Perfect for a small gathering
- Easy to make-it does not require rolling out pastry or peeling apples
How to Make this Recipe
Making this vegan French apple tart is quite easy. The most time consuming steps are pressing the pastry into the tart pan and slicing the apples. Total prep time is roughly 30 minutes, however, there are some make ahead instructions below if you need to save time.
The ingredient list is quite simple. To make this recipe, you will need:
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated Sugar
- Berry Sugar (superfine or castor sugar)
- Coconut oil
- Unsweetened Applesauce
- Almond flour
- Ground Cinnamon
- Arrowroot starch or corn starch
- 3 medium sized apples
Start by mixing the pastry ingredients together- this can be done by hand, or with a food processor (I prefer using my hands because it's one less piece of equipment to clean afterwards).
Press the dough into the tart pan and place in the freezer to set up- this step is important because cold pastry yields a flakier crust when baked.
Make the frangipane filling - While the dough chills, make the vegan frangipane filling by combining all the ingredients together.
Next, prepare the apples - cut off the apple cheeks which basically means slice off the round sides, leaving behind a square core. There is no need to peel the apples for this recipe, however feel free if you wish.
Slice the apple cheeks lengthwise into ⅛ inch thick slices. It's important to keep the sections together in order to make a nice fan with the slices.
Assemble and bake - Once the pastry is cold, layer the frangipane filling on the bottom of the tart, arrange the apple fans and sprinkle the berry sugar (a.k.a. superfine or caster sugar) to help caramelize the apples and create a beautifully golden top.
Finally, bake the tart at 400°F for about 40 minutes or until the crust is slightly golden and the filling has risen around the apples.
The Apple Variety Matters
Because apples are the star ingredient for this recipe, it's important to choose the right one. Not all apples are suitable for baking and cooking with.
A good baking apple should be firm enough to hold its shape when heated, sweet so they add flavour, and juicy so they don't dry out.
There are many apples varieties that fit the above description. This is not an exhaustive list, rather some of my go-to varieties for baking:
- Honey Crisp
- Pink lady (Cripps Pink)
- Granny Smith
- Cosmic Crisp
Most importantly, choose an apple variety that you enjoy. For this recipe, I like organic Gala or Fuji apples for their sweetness; however, I have also used Honeycrisp and Granny Smith for this recipe (note that these varieties are slightly less sweet and more on the tart side).
Organic Washington Apples
Organic Washington Apples are grown in Washington State which is one of the premier apple-growing areas in the world. The nutrient-rich soil, arid climate, plentiful water and advanced growing practices in Washington State provides the right setting for producing top-quality fruit. As a result, the number of pests and diseases the apples are subject to is far less.
It's no wonder the United States is the leading organic apple producer in the world with 16.9 million boxes of certified organic apples (306,000 tons) of apples annually. Each organic apple is picked by hand, too!
Today, Organic Washington apples are available in every key variety you've come to know over the years: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, Pinky Lady (Cripps Pink), Honeycrisp and Cosmic Crisp®.
Why Choose Certified Organic Apples?
There are many reasons why I choose organic produce whenever possible; flavour, nutrition, and environmental impact are just a few.
In a nutshell, Organic standards are based on farming systems that maintain and replenish soil health and fertility. Furthermore, compost, plant-residues and other natural nutrients are used instead of standard chemical treatments.
Moreover, pest control is kept natural by using plant extracts, beneficial insects, and natural insect pheromones; conventional chemical pesticides, herbicides or irradiation methods are not permitted.
Organic Washington apples are grown in accordance with the guidelines of the National Organic Program (NOP) and never commingle with conventional apples.
Apple Selection, Care and Storage
When selecting apples, they should be firm to the touch; avoid any with bruises or punctures on their skin.
When stored at room temperature, apples ripen 6-7x faster. As such, it's best to store apples in the fridge at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) in a breathable produce bag to keep them at peak freshness.
Lastly, be sure to thoroughly wash your apples before eating or baking with them. Wash apples under cool running water, and vigorously scrub the skin with clean hands; make sure to get the section around the stem and the bottom near the calyx!
Tips for Making this Recipe a Success
Overall, this vegan french apple tart is very easy to make, even if you're not a fan of working with pastry, like myself. However, there are some key points worth nothing to make sure you get the best results:
- Use softened coconut oil- it should be easy to scoop, but not liquid.
- Try not to overwork the pastry - too much kneading or mixing can make the crust dense.
- Press the pastry evenly into the tart pan so there are no overly thick areas. The flat bottom of a measuring cup works well to smooth and even out the pastry.
- Use fresh, ripe unblemished apples- see the above paragraph on how to select and keep apples fresh.
- Try to keep the apple fans together- use a small spatula or butter knife to lift and transfer them into the tart.
- Use an apple variety suitable for baking- Gala, Fuji, Cosmic crisp, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith are great for this recipe.
- Allow the tart to cool completely before serving-this allows the filling to set up. You can, however, serve it slightly warm if you wish.
Substitutes & Options
- Vegan butter replaces coconut oil in equal measure.
- Granulated sugar replaces berry sugar in equal measure. However, berry sugar gives the top a more pleasing appearance once baked.
- Use Gala or Fuji apples - they have a natural sweetness that works well in this recipe. However, Honeycrisp or Granny Smith also work, lending a more tart flavour to this recipe.
- You can peel the apples if you prefer.
- Add an ⅛ teaspoon of almond extract for a more traditional frangipane flavour.
Make Ahead & Storage Notes
The pastry dough can be made in advance. You will want to shape it into a 6 inch disc, then wrap it and place in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Let it come to room temperature before pressing it into the tart pan.
Alternatively, press the pastry into the tart pan and leave it covered in the freezer overnight before proceeding with rest of the recipe. Once baked, the recipe will keep for 2-3 days covered in the fridge.
Where to find Organic Washington Apples
Organic Washington apples are available across Canada and the US at most major grocery stores. Ask for them in your local grocers or check the fresh produce section. You can also check them out on Facebook @washingtonapples or Instagram @washingtonapplecommission hashtag #washingtonapples.
A big thank you to Organic Washington Apples for sponsoring this post!
More Apple Recipes
If you enjoy this recipe, be sure to check out these other great recipes featuring my favourite fruit to bake with!
Vegan French Apple Tart (Tarte Normade)
A new take on the classic, this easy vegan French apple tart features a melt-in-your-mouth flaky crust, a simple vegan frangipane filling, and loads of sweet apple. This elegant dessert is easy to make and does not require rolling out pastry or peeling apples. Serve with dairy-free ice cream or whipped cream. This is your new favourite vegan apple tart!
- 1 ¼ cup (190g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp (1.5g) salt
- 2 TBSP (25g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (106g) softened coconut oil
- 3 TBSP (45ml) cold water
- ½ cup (125g) unsweetened applesauce
- 2 TBSP (25g) granulated sugar
- 4 TBSP (24g) almond flour packed
- 1 tsp (2.5g) arrowroot powder
- ¼ tsp (1.5g) salt
- ½ tsp (2.5g) ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp (3ml) vanilla extract
- 3 medium (465g) Gala Apples
- 2 TBSP (25g) berry sugar (superfine or caster sugar)
Make the pastry
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender or your hands, combine the coconut oil with the flour mixture until pea sized pieces form. Add the cold water and gently knead the dough until it comes together into a ball. If the dough is dry and not sticking to itself, add an additional tablespoon of water.
Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and form it into a flat 6″ disc. Place the disc into the center of a 9” tart pan with a removable bottom. Using your hands, press the dough from the center outwards so it evenly covers the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to smooth the surface and sides. Place the pastry lined tart pan in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Prepare the frangipane & apples
While the pastry chills, combine all the frangipane ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
Cut the “cheeks” off the apples (you should be left with a square core). Place the apples, cut side down and carefully slice each apple "cheek" lengthwise into ⅛” strips, making sure to keep the apple slices together. Next, gently press down and forward on each of the sliced apple sections to create a fan effect (see photo).
Assemble & Bake
Remove the pastry lined tart pan from the freezer. Evenly spread the frangipane filling in the bottom of the tart. Then, using a small spatula, gently lift one apple fan and place it the middle of the tart. Repeat with the remaining apple fans, arranging them around the center one. Cut some apple fans into smaller pieces to fit into the edges if needed. Sprinkle evenly with the berry sugar.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until the tart shell is a golden brown and the filling has risen around the apples. Carefully remove the tart from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
Leftovers can be stored covered in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Vegan butter replaces coconut oil in equal measure.
Granulated sugar replaces berry sugar in equal measure. However, berry sugar gives the top a more pleasing appearance once baked.
You can peel the apples if you prefer.