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Apple Normandy Tart

I can remember walking into my internship on the first day and being nervous. I had just completed culinary school and now I was walking into an actual established catering company. I chose to do a pastry internship because I keep kosher and I thought it would be slightly less prohibiting. Who the hell wants your new intern snapping back at you and saying. “Um… Nah. I don’t think I’m going to de-vein those shrimp for you after all.”

I was one of four interns at the company, which was located in the bustling Chelsea Market. I was 23 and had never stepped foot in a professional kitchen before. This company prioritized seasonal, sustainable, local ingredients. In 2005 that was a pretty modern concept. I learned everything here. Way more than I did in the actual culinary program. Probably because for me my culinary skills were more innate but my pastry skills had to be taught.

But I also learned how to manage and delegate. I watched how my boss would have a master list at the beginning of the day and when someone started a task, you would mark it with a yellow highlighter and then when it was finished you would mark it with a green highlighter. I still do this today in my own kitchen. Most days I had over two pages of tasks. I learned so many tricks like this. She would oversee everything.

It was a beautiful catering company with a rustic chic vibe. Cakes, cookies, bars, scones, breadsticks- anything. Sweet or savory- you name it. It was all delicious. Very classic American. Very wholesome. The food was very- let’s cater a wedding in a barn vibe, but still don this haute couture gown.

This is where my confidence started to build. I started learning and absorbing everything. I learned to layer cakes and pipe cookies. I made petit fours. I learned how to make tart shells. Pate choux. Grissini. Dream bars. Goat cheese tartlets. Heirloom cake. I began to appreciate the pastries and their recipes. Most of all- I craved to learn more.

As the internship was finishing I needed to make the decision whether or not I wanted to stay and take a job there. In the end I decided to take my education and keep walking. Being there and in chelsea market, surrounded by places like Amy’s Bread, The Food Network, Sarabeth’s and Ronnybrook Creamery are what lit the fire for me to start my own company. There really was no shortage of inspiration there. As time moved forward and I opened up my catering company, Sweet Life Caterers, desserts and pastries were a huge part of the business. All the desserts were baked in house.

Over time, my instincts have changed a bit. So have the trends. My natural inclination today is not to bake with any unhealthy ingredients. I really try to use only the most natural ingredients in my recipes that I can do practically. I am much more aware of health and my body. Our bodies feed off the food we give it. So if I am feeding my loved ones then I am responsible for their well being.

For example, I will no longer use a recipe that requires the use of margarine or Crisco if I can’t adequately find a substitute. I don’t use fake coloring or flavors. I favor things that have grown from the ground and are minimally processed. I also try not to use buckets and buckets of sugar. Or buckets and buckets of fats. Even if they are natural or not.

What I do today is create delicious recipes that allow indulgence with better ingredients.

Balance is key.

This apple Normandy tart is a great example. This recipe was a staple back in the day at Sweet Life Caterers. But back then I made the tart shell with margarine (to make it non dairy). Not any more. Today I use coconut oil. And to be honest I did you all a favor, because you no longer have roll out this tart dough. It is now a press in dough. So now it is healthy and you need no skills to work with it. Win win.


  • This tart dough is delicious and versatile enough to use in any sweet application. (It is not too sweet)

  • I like to make a large batch of the dough all in one day and press it into a bunch of tart pans- large or small, and then freeze. If you are desperate and have no pans then you can use a pyrex pie dish or disposable aluminum (bleh) pan.

  • I do not suggest freezing raw dough in disks (or balls) wrapped in plastic. It’s very hard to work with dough that has frozen coconut oil in it.

  • Homemade apple sauce- this is really worth the extra small step. If you can plan ahead a little bit, then just make a small collection in your fridge of any fruit that is a little soft that you want to cook. It doesn’t only have to be apples. My last batch consisted of peaches, nectarines, plums, apples and pears.

  • I don’t generally do the tart in one day. I take my time. I do one day of tart dough and freeze. One day of applesauce and freeze and lastly I make my tarts. While it sounds like a lot, it’s a lot less annoying. This is a very impressive dessert, that tastes delicious and you can feel comfortable to serve to your loved ones. Plus spreading out the tasks over a few days really lessens the burden.

Apple Normandy Tart

Sweet Tart Shell Ingredients: (Yield: 2 tart shells)

1 cup coconut oil (at room temp.)

¾ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

2 eggs

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour*

*For an excellent Gluten Free version replace the 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour with:

1 cup all purpose gluten free flour (I like the BOB's Red Mill GF All Purpose Flour)

3/4 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

For an excellent Gluten Free version replace the 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour with:

1 cup all purpose gluten free flour (I like the BOB's Red Mill GF All Purpose Flour)

3/4 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

For the Applesauce: (Yield: enough applesauce for 2 tarts)

6 medium apples, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons cane sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Topping: (Yield: topping for 1 tart)

4 medium green apples, peeled

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon water

2 tablespoons cane sugar

Glaze: (Yield: glaze for 1 tart)

3 tablespoons Apricot Jam

1 tablespoon water


To make the tart shell:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. (300 convection)

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the coconut oil, sugar and salt and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Mix in 1 egg. Add the remaining egg and mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour all at once and mix on low just until it is incorporated.

What’s great about this dough is that you don’t need to roll it out. All you have to do is press it into your tart pan- very fool proof. Using a spoon, scoop some dough into a tart pan with a removable bottom. Working slowly, press it into the pan to create a thin tart shell bottom. Just do the bottom first. You want it to be thin- but not see through. When the bottom is done, start building your edges. Slowly scoop some more into your pan until you have pressed all of the edges into the side and your whole tart is nicely formed. Remember this tart shell recipe is enough for two tarts, so repeat this now for the second tart. (At this point you can either wrap 1 or both of the tarts really well and freeze for 3 months or continue on to bake. )

When you are ready to bake your tart shell:

Now take your tart shell that you are going to be baking today and line the inside with aluminum foil and fill the foil with pie weights. Wait what?! I hear you screaming- don’t worry. I don’t have pie weights either. Instead, I took a bag of dry beans and I designated them as my pie weights. So find an old bag of kidney beans that you have lying around and pour it onto the aluminum foil and we will use this to weigh down the dough so it doesn’t rise up during our bake. So once your beans are sitting in the foil it is time to bake. We are baking the tart shell for 18 minutes rotating from front to back halfway through the baking time. When it is cool, remove your beans and store in a container (label the container!) to use as pie weights for another day.

(A par baked tart shell can be plastic wrapped and frozen for 2 weeks in the freezer.)

To make the Applesauce:

Place your apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon into a medium pot. Put over a flame and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every so often. Remove the pot from the flame and with an immersion blender, puree the apple mixture.

Take about 1 ½ cups of applesauce and spread it into the bottom of your par-baked tart shell. You want the apple sauce to come ¾ ‘s of the way up the tart shell.

(The sauce can be stored for 10 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer)

Note- If you are short on time you may use a store bought apple sauce but taste it first. If you don’t like it out of the package- you won’t like it in your tart either.)

To make the tart topping:

Cut each apple in half and remove the cores. Cut each half in half again. Then using a very sharp knife, cut very thin slices. Arrange the slices overlapping in concentric circles on top of the applesauce. (see photos)

In a small bowl, take your egg and little bit of water and mix with your pastry brush. Now brush the egg wash over the apples. Sprinkle the apples evenly with the cane sugar. Bake the tart for 50 minutes uncovered until it has a nice deep brown color.

For the glaze-

Take the jam and water and put it in a small pot over a low flame. After 1 minute mix well and let simmer for another minute. Remove from the fire. Using a pastry brush, gently spread a thin layer of the jam over the top of the tart (everything- both the apples and the crust).


Store this tart in the fridge. Allow it to come to room temperature before serving.

You can easily swap out apples for pears in this recipe.

Plan Ahead:

  • The tart shells can be formed and frozen raw in their pans for 3 months (wrap well!)

  • A par or fully baked tart shell (empty) can be plastic wrapped and frozen for up to 2 weeks.

  • The applesauce can be refrigerated for 10 days or frozen for 3 months

  • A fully baked apple tart will last in the fridge for 3 days.

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