I Hate to Bake, but Ina Garten's French Apple Tart Recipe Is My Go-To Dessert

She’s said this simple-but-impressive apple tart recipe is part of her signature meal.

It's no secret that I'm obsessed with Ina Garten. I've watched new episodes (and, OK, plenty of reruns) of her shows for over a decade, and I've relied on her recipes for almost every holiday gathering or dinner party I've ever attended.

If you're a super-fan like me, you probably know that Ina is the queen of roast chicken. But surprisingly she told Food Network that her signature meal is actually a "rack of lamb, orzo with roasted vegetables and a French apple tart for dessert."

The specific dessert recipe she's referring to is her French Apple Tart from 2008. Though this recipe is over a decade old, it's a classic (and Ina's fave) for good reason. This apple tart looks complicated and impressive, but it calls for just a handful of ingredients and is absolutely delicious.

Ina Garten on a designed background
Getty Images / Noam Galai

While I'm a huge fan of this apple tart recipe, it's worth mentioning that I absolutely hate baking. I don't like carefully measuring ingredients, weighing out flour or dirtying 20 dishes for one little cake. It's all just too fussy for my free-spirited cooking style. Want a perfect steak or salad dressing? I'm your girl. But ask me to bake you a batch of homemade brownies and you'll be sorely disappointed. So when I saw this apple tart in an episode of Barefoot Contessa a few years ago and thought, "I can make that," you know there was something special about this dessert.

The homemade pastry initially sounded daunting, but this one comes together in a food processor. You just pulse together some flour, sugar, salt, cold butter and ice water 10-12 times until everything is the size of peas. Then, you quickly pull the dough together, put it in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for about an hour.

While the dough is chilling, gather your favorite apples. In the episode, Ina recommends Granny Smith apples, but says you can use any kind you like, as long as they're "very crisp and tart." She also says if you're not a fan of apples, "you can do it with peaches or pears," but quickly adds, "I have to say my favorite is with apples." After coring your apples, cut them into ¼-inch slices and lay them on top of your rolled-out pastry on a baking sheet.

Ina says, "I like to do it diagonally across. I just think it's prettier." After you've placed your apples on the pastry, add ½ cup of sugar and a half stick of butter that's been cut into small chunks. Ina says, "I love the simplicity of this. There's no filling—it's just pastry and apples, butter and sugar." (Though Ina doesn't call for it, I've also added a sprinkling of cinnamon to this mixture and it's A+!)

Then, take your apple-covered pastry and bake it for about 45 minutes in a 450°F oven until it's golden brown. Ina recommends brushing it with a glaze made from melted-down apricot jelly and Calvados (an apple brandy), rum or water (I typically just use a little water, and it's great). I wouldn't skip this step, as it makes the apple tart look glossy and impressive, like it came from a bakery case. Plus, it gives the whole thing a sweet finish that really can't be beat.

I love Ina Garten's apple tart recipe because even though it requires making your own pastry dough, it's a simple recipe to follow, only requires a handful of ingredients, and is sure to wow your dinner guests. It's no wonder it's Ina's favorite dessert to make—and one of mine, too.

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