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Basque Apple Tart with Thyme Custard

Basque apple tart or Tarta de manzana is a classic pastry dessert served in many restaurants and patisserie shops across the Basque region. The origin of this dessert comes from neighbour France and the adaptation of this classic French dessert to many Basque patisserie shops during the late 19th century as a way of offering discerning clients quality Parisian patisserie products. There are many variations on the recipe, some recipes use short crust pastry, others puff pastry, some fill the tart with apple compote and other recipes use pastry cream. However, one element all recipes agree on is the top layer of thinly sliced apples, brushed with butter, baked in the oven until golden brown and finished with a glaze of apricot jam. On this recipe, I use ready-made puff pastry, thinly rolled into a rectangular pastry case, filled with apple compote, topped with sliced apples and baked in the oven. I like to serve my apple tart with a light thyme crème anglaise. The thyme infused custard pairs really well with the baked apple flavour.
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Basque


For the tart

  • 1 Rectangular piece of ready-made puff pastry of 35cm width 12cm depth and 3mm thick
  • Long strips of puff pastry enough to go round the rectangle 1cm wide and 3mm thick
  • 2 Russet apples peeled, cut into quarters, core removed and sliced into thin wedges
  • 25 g butter half melted
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk beaten
  • 3 tbsp apricot jam


  • For the custard, heat the milk and cream with the thyme sprigs and lemon peel and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover with cling film and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar until pale and thick. Return the milk mixture to the heat, bring to the boil, remove from the heat and strain without the thyme or lemon peel into the egg mixture and mix well. Return the mix to the pan and with a wooden spoon stir constantly on a gentle heat without allowing the mixture to boil until a nice custard of single cream consistency is achieved. It takes about 5 minutes. You can test the consistency by dipping the spoon in the custard, lifting it up and running your finger across the flat surface, if the straight line stays, you’ve got it.
  • For the apple puree, peel the apples and cut into quarters removing the core, chop roughly into small pieces. In a sauté pan, melt the butter and add the chopped apple and sugar, frying it fairly quickly until the apple starts to caramelise and soften up. Add the calvados and flambé with a lighter or the cooking flames and allow the mixture to cook on a low heat until very soft. Set aside and allow to cool down.
  • For the tart, pre-heat the oven at 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4. With the use of a pastry brush, stick the long strip around the puff pastry disc to make an edge to the tart. Place on a baking tray with non-stick paper and prick the base of the tart with a fork. Spread the apple puree across the entire base and on top lay the thin apple slices in a fan shape, one on top of the other, round the whole tart. Sprinkle the tart with brown sugar and a few knobs of butter.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, remove from the oven, place carefully on a wire tray and brush with the rest of the melted butter, return to the oven for a further 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Place the apricot jam into a small pan and cover slightly with water, place on a low heat and melt with a whisk until a uniform glaze is formed. Brush the tart with the apricot glaze until all shiny.
  • Cut the tart into portions and serve with the thyme custard.


This recipe is sponsored by Mediterranean Supermarket 
Keyword apple dessert, apple tart, dessert, pudding