My all-time favorite food is pie . . . maybe, I thought . . . until I tasted this gluten-free apple tart. This apple tart is sweet and tart with a flaky, cookie-like gluten-free tart crust. When I first tasted it my words were not fit for mixed company. Needless to say I was hooked.
I hadn’t had a tart for a very long time and the ones I made in culinary school were not gluten-free. All my classmates loved me because I gave them just about everything we made in our baking classes. So finally I’ve gotten around to converting that Le Cordon Bleu School recipe to gluten-free, and it is stellar!
Gluten-Free Tart Crust
Gluten-free tart crusts are more sticky and delicate than wheat based ones. So I have a few tips and tricks for making it easier to roll out and handle.
- Once the dough is made, form it into a disk, wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Much longer than that and it will be too firm to roll.
- I roll out my pie and tart crusts either between 2 pieces of parchment or plastic wrap. If using plastic, check out my step-by-step instructions in my gluten-free pie crust recipe.
- If using parchment you’ll need to use plenty of flour to keep it from sticking. Yes, this dough will even stick to the parchment as it softens. So, I flour the bottom parchment all the way to the edges and the top of the dough before starting.
- Start by spreading and flattening out the dough with your hands. This is easier when the dough is cold.
- Now start with the roller. The paper tends to slide around on my counter until the dough softens, so I hang a little bit of the paper over the edge of the counter and lean on it to hold it in place. Roll gently from the center out to the edge. Imagine a clock. Roll from the center to 12, then the center to 2, then 4, 6 and so on. This will keep it close to round. Lighten the pressure as you reach the outer edge.
- About halfway through rolling out the dough, peel off the parchment and add another dusting of flour to the top and bottom.
- Once the dough is rolled to 1/8″ thick and about a 12″ circle, carefully peel off the top parchment. Place both hands and wrists underneath the bottom paper and flip over into the tart pan.
- Lift the edges of the paper to help drop the dough to the bottom of the pan. Peel off this piece of parchment and gently press the dough into the pan. Don’t worry if it tears. This is expected, just patch it back together,
- Run your rolling pin over the edge of the pan to trim the excess dough. You are ready for filling!
Difference Between Pie and Tart
Tart? Pie? What’s the difference. They both have a flaky crust and fruity filling, But, yep there is a difference.
A tart crust, like pie crust, is a combination of flour and butter. But the tart crust is sweeter and more cookie-like than a pie crust. It is meant to hold up to being removed from its pan and standing on its own. A tart pan is a fluted, straight-sided, low pan with a removable bottom.
The tart filling us usually arranged in a beautiful fashion and the fruit is glazed with a peach or apricot jam to give it a gorgeous shine. The coating also keeps the fruit fresh. Sometimes the crust is baked with the filling in it. Sometimes it is baked on its own, then filled with a custard or other cold filling. The super easy, no-bake fillings in this gluten-free strawberry pie and gluten-free fig pie would be perfect fillings for a summer or autumn tart.
In a pie, the crust is more flaky and delicate and is less sweet than tart crusts. Pies sometimes have a top crust and the fruit is not necessarily arranged in any particular way. A pie is sliced before coming out of the pan. Its angled sides would not lend well to trying to get the whole pie out. And a gluten-free pie crust especially is very delicate and would not be happy with the process.
Apple Tart Filling
Tart fillings are usually arranged very intentionally. There are some amazing bakers out there with crazy skills for making an apple tart look like a piece of art. I encourage you to do an image search on google for apple tarts and enjoy the results. I am not trained in pastry and don’t have the patience it would take. Really. I just want to get to the part when I get to eat the gluten-free tart!
I have tried several designs for this apple filled tart and this one is the most simple yet still looks beautiful. Here’s how to create this stacked look:
- Juice 2 lemons into a large bowl. Stir in 2 Tbsps sugar and 1½ tsps cinnamon.
- You’ll need 3 red, tart and sweet firm apples like gala or pink lady with the peel on and 1 large or 2 smaller granny smith apples peeled.
- Start with the granny smiths. One apple at a time, cut as shown below. You will cut 3 pieces from each apple. Start about 1/4″ away from the stem and cut straight down. I save the center pieces and make applesauce.
- Place the flat side down and cut into 1/8″ slices. Or if you have a mandolin that doesn’t send you to the emergency room, use that!
- Keep the stack of slices together and swirl in the lemon mixture to coat. Keeping the stack together will make putting it into the crust much easier. Leave stacks in the bowl while working. They can sit for a while if you need to take care of the crust at any time.
- Do the same with the red apples.
- Sprinkle a mixture of 1 1/2 tsp flour + 1/2 tsp sugar on the crust
- Arrange stacks of 5-6 slices of red apple around the outside. Use the taller/bigger pieces for the outside ring and save the smaller ones for the middle. Overlap and put them at different angles.
- Fill in the center with the granny smiths. Fill in any smaller gaps with leftovers. The filling will shrink once cooked and cooled, so don’t hesitate to stuff it full.
- Dot the top with small pieces of unsalted butter and sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar.
Gluten-Free Apple Tart
Gluten-Free Tart Crust
- 1 c +2 Tbsp gluten-free flour blend*
- ¼ c sugar
- ½ tsp xanthan gum omit if your flour blend has it
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 stick 1/2 c cold, unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- extra flour for rolling
Apple Tart filling
- 2 granny smith apples
- 3 tart and sweet red apples like gala or pink lady
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 lemons
- mixture of 1½ tsp flour + 1 tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsps butter
- 1 Tbsp sugar or coarse sugar for top
- 2 Tbsps apricot or peach jam 1 + 1 Tbsp water
Make the Tart Crust
- Cut the butter into small chunks.
- Stir the flour, sugar, xanthan gum and salt together in a mixing bowl
- Add the chunks of butter and cut in with 2 forks or a pastry blender. Continue until the mixture resembles crumbs.
- Beat the egg and stir into the flour/butter mixture. No fancy mixer is needed. I just use a fork to pull it together. Once it has come together into a few bigger chunks, transfer it to a large sheet of plastic wrap. Use the wrap to help bring it all together and form it into a disk.
- Wrap snugly and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Do not leave it much longer otherwise it will be very difficult to roll out.
Prepare the Apple Tart Filling
- Juice the lemon into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon.
- Peel the green apples, Leave the peel on the red apple. Cut as shown.
- Cut the red apple (skin on) from top to bottom avoiding the core.
- Place each piece cut side down and slice into 1/8" slices. Try to keep the slices together in a stack. Once finished with one section, keep the stack together, and swirl it in the liquid without separating the pieces. Leave in the bowl while you work.
Assemble the Tart
- Pre heat the oven to 375°F
- Place the tart pan on a baking sheet.
- I recommend rolling out the dough between 2 pieces of parchment or plastic wrap. This makes it much easier to roll and transfer to the pan. Splash a little water on the counter to prevent the plastic or parchment from slipping. See above for detailed instructions.
- Flour the bottom layer of plastic/parchment all the way to the edges. Place the dough on the parchment.
- Flatten out the disk using your hands, then flour the dough. Put the top layer of plastic/parchment on and begin rolling.
- If using parchment, halfway through rolling, remove the paper and flour the top and bottom of the dough.
- Roll the dough to 1/8" thick. Remove the top layer of paper/plastic.
- Place your hands and wrists under the bottom layer of plastic/parchment and gently flip the dough over and into the pan. Gently lift the edges of the dough to drop it to the bottom of the pan. Peel off the remaining plastic/parchment.
- Using light pressure, press the dough into the pan. If it tears, just patch it back together.
- Run the rolling pin over the edge of the pan to trim the excess dough
- Sprinkle to tart shell with the flour/sugar mixture.
- Arrange the apple slices ash shown, packing them in tightly. They will shrink while baking, so it's important to pack the pan tight.
- Dot the top of the filling with small pieces of the 2 Tbsps butter and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sugar.
- Bake 45-50 minutes or until the crust starts to brown.
- Cool for 15 minutes. Heat the jam and water until the jam melts. Brush the apple with a coating of the mixture.
- To remove the tart form the pan, lift the pan by the sides and place the bottom on an upside down wide glass or jar. This will release the outer ring.