Irish Apple Tart
Authentic Irish Apple Tart: Tender, shortbread-like crust, plenty of juicy apples, & a buttery crumb topping. So good with custard sauce & ice cream!
The day has finally come, my friend! I’m sharing my authentic Irish apple tart today! I’ve been bursting at the seams, wanting to share this with you for weeks!
This recipe is the culmination of my fabulous trip to Ireland this past winter. I was so privileged to join forces with Bake from Scratch magazine, Tourism Ireland, and Williams Sonoma, for a culinary tour of the emerald isle. And I’m so happy to be sharing all the best this beautiful country has to offer with you!
You may have noticed, I’ve been posting recipes inspired by this trip for weeks now. My Irish scones, Irish oat cookies, and Irish soda bread were all born from the experiences I had while on this journey.
But after all the delicious foods I sampled in Ireland, the one that spoke dearest to my heart was this apple tart. No matter where we were in Ireland, I couldn’t help but notice that apple tart was always on the menu. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that this is probably the most iconic of all Irish desserts!
And I totally get why. With it’s tender crust, juicy apples, and buttery crumb topping, this dessert will make you feel so warm and cozy. The apple flavor really takes the spotlight, and it’s home-y and comforting and just the perfect way to treat yourself. Add a luxurious custard sauce and a scoop of sweet vanilla ice cream, and nothing could be nicer!
TRIP TO IRELAND
Our trip started in Dublin, then every day after that was spent in a new place. We traveled from there to the Wicklow Mountains, Ballymaloe Cookery School, Cork City, Kinsale, Barryroe, Clonakilty (all in County Cork), Cong (County Mayo), Galway City, Connemara, then back to Dublin and finally, homeward bound.
- Powerscourt Hotel in County Wicklow
- Castlemartyr Resort in County Cork
- The Trident in Kinsale (also County Cork)
- Adare Manor (right on the border between County Galway and County Mayo)
- Ashford Castle (County Mayo)
- Clontarf Castle (Dublin)
We were also given a magnificent tour of the incredible Kylemore Abbey.
Everywhere we went, we received the warmest of welcomes, and I just can’t wait to revisit this beautiful country.
I would highly encourage you to consider a trip to Ireland. Everything from the scenery, to the cuisine, to the sweet & funny Irish people will warm you to your toes, and there is so much to see and do.
Not to mention it’s only a 6-hour flight from the east coast, where I live. For me, this trip was quicker and easier than flying to Seattle!
If you’re thinking about planning a trip, definitely hit me up with your questions, because I would love to talk to you more about this!
Now, before I get into the nitty-gritty of the apple tart recipe, we have to talk a little bit about Irish dairy.
My friend, when I tell you that every morsel I tasted in Ireland completely knocked my socks off, know that this was all owed to Irish dairy.
I am not kidding. Ever since I’ve been back in the states, nothing I’ve eaten has compared.
The butter, cream, and cheeses in Ireland are on another level. I suspect it’s because everything is so fresh and sourced locally, since it’s such a small island.
But while I was there, I also learned that because of the gulf stream the weather in Ireland remains mild all year ‘round. Temperatures rarely drop below 40 degrees F or above 85 degrees F, and that’s why everything is so green all the time.
I suspect the lush grass that the cows graze on creates a product that is like none other, and that comes through in any and everything made with Irish dairy.
Since I’ve been back, I’ve been splurging on imported Irish butter. It truly makes everything you bake so much more rich, flavorful, and delicious.
If you’re able to find it in your local market, definitely snatch it up! You won’t regret it for a second!
HOW TO MAKE AN APPLE TART
This apple tart recipe is made up of 3 main parts:
- The crust
- The filling
- A buttery crumb topping
Plus the custard sauce and vanilla ice cream that are served as accompaniments.
Let’s start at the bottom, with the crust!
THE TART CRUST
This is an easy tart crust that comes together in just a few minutes. It’s got a tender, sugar cookie-like texture, and it’s a perfect base for this or any tart you might want to make.
Just pulse flour, powdered sugar, and salt together in a food processor, then cut in the butter.
Once you have a mixture that looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stream in cream, an egg yolk, and a little vanilla extract, with the machine running on low speed. After just a few seconds, the dough will gather itself into a ball, and that’s your tart dough made!
Find the full recipe here: Tart Crust Recipe.
Divide the dough into 6 equal portions and roll each one out until just an inch or so larger than the diameter of your tart pans.
For what you see here, I’m using 6 mini tart pans that are 4 ½-inches in diameter by about ½-inch deep. They can be ordered online: Mini Tart Pans, or you can just use one big, standard-sized tart pan with a removable bottom: Tart Pan.
Gently ease the rolled-out dough into the pans, taking care not to stretch or tear it as you work it down the sides and into the bottoms of the pans.
Allow any excess dough to drape over the top rim of the tart pan.
Then, use your rolling pin to trim away the excess.
Use the tines of a fork to poke holes into the bottom of the unbaked tart shell. This will help to prevent the dough from puffing up as it cooks in the oven.
Then partially bake the shells for about 10 minutes.
While the tart crusts are baking, you can get going on the filling.
This is a simple filling made from almond meal, sugar, and eggs. It’s very versatile, and can be used in so many different ways.
It goes by the name “frangipane.”
It’s as easy as stirring almond meal (aka: almond flour), sugar, melted butter, eggs, and salt together until combined.
To bring out the apple flavors, we are also going to add a splash of Calvados (or apple brandy), a bit of lemon zest, and a few drops of vanilla.
Once that all comes together, spread a thin layer over the bottom of the partially-baked tart shells.
The sliced apples will nestle down into this filling and everything will bake together, marry, and meld, for a filling that is so apple-y and good!
WHAT KIND OF APPLES TO USE
Granny Smiths are far and away my favorite apples for baking. I love them because they are firm and tart, and as they bake they hold their shape well and still taste really apple-y.
If you’re wanting something a bit sweeter, Honeycrisp apples will work really well too.
Really any apple that doesn’t turn mushy as it cooks will work just fine, so feel free to use your own favorite!
Peel, quarter, and core the apples, then slice them about ⅛-inch thick and arrange them on top of the frangipane.
I like to fan them out a bit, but you don’t have to be fancy about it! Go ahead and just pile them on however you like, then brush them with a bit of apple jelly for sweetness, shine, and to help the crumb topping to stick.
THE CRUMB TOPPING
This crumb topping recipe is a real favorite! I use it on everything from muffins to pies to fruit crisps. You can flavor it all sorts of different ways, but for this version, we’re just adding a bit of lemon zest to bring out the tart apple flavor.
Melt butter, then stir in flour, sugar, zest, and salt with a fork. The mixture will be very crumbly.
Find the full recipe for this crumb topping here: Basic Crumb Topping Recipe.
Just sprinkle a little over each tart and then bake in the oven.
You’ll know the tarts are done when the apples are tender, and the crumb topping and edges of the crust are beginning to turn golden brown.
HOW TO SERVE APPLE TARTS
I love to dust a little powdered sugar over these tarts for garnish. It makes them look so pretty! And it also adds a bit of extra sweetness.
And when I was in Ireland, every apple tart was served with custard sauce and vanilla ice cream.
Custard sauce will also go by the name “creme anglaise.” It’s made by heating milk, cream, and vanilla together, then whisking the mixture into egg yolks and sugar. The sauce is then cooked gently until thickened.
It’s luxuriously rich and creamy, and so deliciously fragrant with vanilla! This sauce will really take your apple tarts to the next level.
Find the full recipe here: Creme Anglaise.
CAN THIS BE MADE AHEAD?
These apple tarts hold up very well at room temperature for at least a day or two. Just keep them in an airtight container so they don’t dry out or get stale.
- The tart dough will keep (wrapped) in the refrigerator for several days, or for a few weeks in the freezer.
- The frangipane filling will also keep for a few days in the fridge.
- The apples will turn brown if you slice them too far ahead, so save that step for just before baking.
- The crumb topping will last in an airtight container for at least a week at room temp.
- The custard sauce can be kept (refrigerated) for around 5 to 7 days.
CAN APPLE TART BE FROZEN?
These apple tarts freeze beautifully and will last in the freezer for several weeks if wrapped tightly.
Thaw them in the fridge or at room temperature.
HOW TO REHEAT APPLE TART
I think apple tarts are best served warm. The contrast between warm pastry and fruit and cold ice cream is just fantastic!
To reheat a leftover apple tart, wrap it loosely in foil and place it in a warm (170 degrees F) oven until warmed through. Or just zap it in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds on full power.
Pick up the July issue of Bake from Scratch magazine this summer! They’re devoting the whole issue to our Ireland trip and I just can’t wait to relive it through their pages!
In the meantime, be sure to check out my “Ireland” story highlight on Instagram.
And definitely enter Williams Sonoma’s sweepstakes, for a chance to win a trip of your own! Click here for all the details: Free Trip to Ireland.
A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITE APPLE RECIPES:
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For the Crust:
For the Filling:
- 1 1/2 cups (168 g) almond meal
- 2/3 cup (133.33 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (29.57 g) unsalted butter, , melted
- 1/4 cup (59.15 ml) Calvados, or apple brandy
- 2 eggs, (large)
- 1 tablespoon (14.79 g) lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon (4.93 ml) vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.23 g) kosher salt
- 4 (728 g) apples, (medium)
- 2 tablespoons (29.57 g) apple jelly, (approx.), warmed slightly until thinned
To Make the Crust:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse to combine.
- Pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg yolk, cream, and vanilla, and process until the dough gathers itself into a ball and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.
- Divide the tart dough into 6 equal portions, and on a lightly floured surface, roll each one into a 7-inch circle.
- Place the dough into the tart pans, pressing it lightly against the sides and trimming off any excess.
- Prick the bottoms of the unbaked tart shells a few times with a fork, then partially bake the shells for 10 minutes. (If they puff up in the middle, just press them back down gently while still warm.)
To Make the Filling:
- Place the almond meal, sugar, melted butter, Calvados, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Divide the mixture equally among the 6 partially baked tart shells.
- Peel, quarter, and cut the cores from the apples.
- Slice the apples lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices, and arrange them on top of the almond filling.
- Brush the apples lightly with jelly, then sprinkle with crumb topping.
- Bake until the tarts are turning golden around the edges and the apples are tender (approx. 35 to 40 minutes).
- Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve warm, topped with custard sauce and vanilla ice cream.
To Make the Crumb Topping:
- Place the butter in a small pot over medium-low heat until melted.
- Add the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt, and toss together with a fork until combined.