Gravenstein Apple Tart

I want to share a bit of history and information about my favorite apple before I give you the recipe for this wonderful tart. Gravenstein is a variety of apple native to Denmark. The variety was discovered in 1669 as a seedling, there is evidence that it may have originated in Italy and come north to Denmark. It is prized for it’s sweet tart flavor and is known as a good cooking apple, especially for pies and tarts. Because Gravenstein apples don’t keep well they are only available during their short season from July to early August. They are grown around the Sonoma County, California town of Sebastopol. The first Gravenstein apple tree planted in Northern California was perhaps planted by Russian fur traders at Fort Ross in 1811. Most of the early apple orchards are gone due to changing economic conditions, development and the change to wine production in the area. The Slow Food Nation’s Ark of Taste selected the Sebastopol Gravenstein apple to be listed in it’s catalog of ‘forgotten flavors’, the criteria being that it must have an outstanding taste and be threatened with extinction.

On a personal note I grew up in Northern California experiencing the excitement of Gravenstein apple season. We were fortunate to have a tree in our backyard and looked forward to harvesting the first apples of the season. Enjoying a bite from the fresh picked apples was almost as good as a slice of my mother’s homemade apple pie. Then before you know it the season is over and all the other fresh local apples are in the market. This year in honor of the arrival of my favorite apple I made a very special apple tart recipe that I have been wanting to try. I was not disappointed by this recipe! I was delighted to serve it at a lunch I hosted at my home this week for a good friend, Sylvie who lives in the Napa Valley and is originally from the Loire Valley in France. She brought another friend who is visiting from Aix en Provence. I enjoyed listening to them try to agree on which apple in France is like the Gravenstein apple, perhaps the Calville Blanc d’Hiver??

This apple tart doesn’t need any whipped cream or crème fraiche on top because it has a layer of cream with vanilla sugar and cinnamon baked with the apples which are nestled under a streusel topping. I am happy to share this wonderful recipe from ‘Cooking At Home On Rue Tatin’ by Susan Herrmann Loomis. This tart would be delicious made with any tart apple suitable for baking.

Ingredients and Directions for Apple Streusel Tart
Adapted from Cooking At Home on Rue Tatin


3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon finely ground almonds or almond powder


1 large egg
3/4 cup crème fraiche
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
Sprinkle of cinnamon

Pate Sucrée
pastry for one 10¨ tart

1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch fine sea salt
8 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water

2 pounds Gravenstein apples, peeled, cored and cut in slices

To make the pastry
can be made up to a day in advance, preheat oven to 375°F when ready to bake

Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add the chilled butter and process until the mixture looks like coarse sand. With the food processor running add 1/3 cup of the chilled water, then pulse a few times until the pastry starts to clump together. If the pastry is too crumbly and doesn’t hold together add more of the water in small amounts. Remove the pastry and form into a flat disk shape, cover and let it rest for at least one hour and up to 3 hours. You can make it the day before and leave in the refrigerator over night but let it rest for at least 2 hours before rolling out.

To make the streusel, place the flour, salt, brown sugar, cinnamon, ground almonds and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process to blend. Remove and set aside in a small bowl.

To make the cream, whisk together the egg, crème fraiche, sugar and sprinkle of cinnamon in a medium bowl, set aside.

Roll out the pastry to about 14 inches and place into a 10″ tart pan or use a deeper 9″ tart pan. Leave the edges hanging over, you may have to trim the edges if they are hanging down too far and touching the counter. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Place the sliced apples in the tart shell and bake until the apples start to look tender and the pastry begins to bake but has no color, about 12-15 minutes.

Remove the tart from the oven and pour the cream over the apples. Working quickly and carefully fold the edges of the pastry up over the apples, it will be slightly stiff and hot to the touch. Sprinkle the streusel over the sliced apples, bake until the streusel and pastry are golden and crisp, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven, let cool for 20 minutes.


  1. I'm unsure of whether or not I've ever tried a gravenstein, but I sure do want to now!
    Thanks for all of the information on the apple; I learned a lot. :)

    The tart looks fantastic!

  2. Beautiful tart! I”m going to have to see if we can get Gravenstein apples in Quebec. Either way, I'll be making this tart soon.

  3. Mmmmm looks so good! Did you happen to make it to the Gravenstein Apple Fair? I was able to attend with the kids last weekend for the first time in 10 years and we'll definitely be back next year….so much fun!

  4. Your tart looks fabulous! We were lucky to enjoy our sister-in-law's mile-high Gravenstein pie while we were visiting in the Bay area. It was delicious; she also says that the Gravenstein apples make the best pie.

  5. An apple tree in the backyard would be heaven. This tart looks delicious…and makes me think that fall and crisp apples aren't too far away!

  6. Oh how an apple tree in my yard would make us happy!! What a wonderful recipe… one of the first apple recipes of the season. I am starting to see more apples in our local farmer's market. Looks so good.

  7. You took some stunning pictures! The apple tart looks fabulous!

  8. Great to learn about Gravenstein apples. The tart is just gorgeous!

  9. Never had Gravenstein apples (east coaster) but they sound delicious. I have some creme fraiche making on the countertop, and if I'm successful in this endeavor, I'm going to try this tart. (If I'm not successful I may just have to go to the big city and buy some to make it!) It looks marvelous- thanks for the recipe!

  10. That looks SO good! Love the crmble topping. I wish I had a slice right now. Enjoy your weekend.

  11. I haven't had Gravenstein apples, but it sounds as though they are worth seeking out. My family would adore this apple tart!

  12. Yeah,apple season is upon us. I had no idea that Gravenstein apples were Danish in origin. My dad had two apple trees in our yard growing up but not Gravenstein, actually not sure what kind of apples they were. Your apple pie looks and sounds delicious!!

  13. What a lovely post…just brimming with beautiful photographs. I so enjoyed learning more about the Gravenstein apple (which I've yet to try!). Last night I bit into a new variety, a Pink Pearl, and found that the flesh was bright pink! Such an interesting and delightful surprise. Thanks for sharing another great recipe!

  14. I love the history of how food made its way here. Thank you for sharing that. Your tart is very beautiful. I would bet the flavor stands on its own and doesn't need a thing to boost it. Yum.

  15. Awwww… apple tree in the backyard. That would be lovely. Your tart looks delicious the crust looks perfect.

  16. Patty, this apple tart is lovely! I love the crumble topping. This is what I was craving today but was too lazy to make a crust. Yours is just gorgeous. I made some apple crisps instead.

    Didn't know this about Gravensteins–we have apples on the coast that I love but I don't know what they're called. They're very good–I wonder if they're Gravensteins…

  17. Thanks for the information and history on the Gravenstein apple, interesting. And that IS quite a short season for a fruit to be available. Your apple tart looks delectable. I love the look of the crust. I would enjoy this with a nice cup of tea. Thanks for sharing.

  18. What a beautiful striped apple! That tart sounds delicious!

  19. Beautiful tart. Looks very delicious. Love to see so much apple in there. It's quite long I have not eaten apple tart. I should make, too. Thanks very much for sharing.

  20. Gravensteins are the only variety of apple I've seen locally (at farmer's market & I'm in Northern CA too)…I didn't know that they were good for baking, else I'd buy a bunch.
    Your apple tart looks quite amazing.

  21. I've not heard of these apples before, but the name makes them sound quite regal and you have made them look delicious.

  22. Oh Patty, this looks so wonderful. Your photos are stellar and really make me want a bite, especially since I have coffee right next to the computer. Ooh, that's kind of dangerous (smile)…
    Btw, that's so nice that you had a gravenstein apple tree in your backyard. It's Cauldron Boy's dream to move to a place where things like apples grow!

  23. Lovely clicks and beautiful presentation!

  24. Fantastic information on the Gravenstein apple and one amazing looking tart. Well done!

  25. Gravenstein apples? Never heard of them until now…thanks! And you have one tree in your backyard? How nice! The tart looks delicious, so rich in flavor with the layer of cream…yummie!

  26. Sorry for the delay Patty my love!
    The apples are from your backyard?! I wish I could get partial green thumb from you! It looks really good. Crispy on top and side, and moist inside. Lucky friends to get to taste your tart and food!

  27. your tart looks fantastic, what a wonderful apple! Its funny you mention the Ark of Taste, my company ran a month long promotion last year featuring the different types of meats from the list, I think they plan on doing another promotion this year as well. We do love slow food!

  28. That's a beautiful tart, Patty! Thanks for sharing the recipe and history of this apple. I used to have two apple trees in my backyard and homegrown apples are so deliciously sweet!

  29. Patty, what a gorgeous tart. I'm not familiar with the Gravenstein, probably because as you said it doesn't ship well and I live in the mountains of NC. We have local apples here I've never seen any other place. Thanks for the great information of the Gravenstein.

  30. This looks so good, and makes me anxious for fall :)

  31. Well, Patty you got my eyes wide open on this one and my bookmarking skills at work ;o)
    I love the fact that the dough has no shortening in it and that you have it rustic looking so that I can later camouflage any imperfections…a little like I've mastered in clothing myself. LOL

    At the end of this week I'm going a few blocks from here to get one of my favourite apples called the 'Red Free'…second favourite to the 'Honey Crisp'. Before you mentioned your favourite…I had never heard of it before.

    BTW…thanks for your lovely basil offer…I would love to be your neighbour ;o)

    Ciao bella and have a wonderful week,

  32. Hmm what a beautiful tart, and thanks for the history on gravenstein! I had no idea about that this particular apple is grown in Sonoma, close by. I love this rustic pie with its golden crust and melting apples! simply beautiful.

  33. That was interesting to learn about the Gravenstein apple. I would think I could find a somewhat similar taste in some local NC apples. The tart certainly looks yummy enough to give it a try!

  34. That's a gorgeous looking apple tart with the crumb topping!

    Interesting about your favorite apple, the Gravenstein. I'm sure I've never seen it in my local markets – but maybe I didn't notice the names. With such a short season, they must be expensive. I'm going to keep a eye out for them….look fwd to tasting one!

  35. Thanks for all the interesting story….as for the apple tart, this is MY thing!! If you give me to choose between a complicated mousse-layered cake and your tart, yours wins my heart (and stomach!!!)
    Thanks for the recipe!

  36. Wow Patty this is a fantastic recipe and the photos make it so much more appetizing and mouthwatering. I enjoyed the history too. I have to agree with Christina apple tarts win my heart and stomach too! Thanks for sharing.

  37. Mairsydoats says:

    Beautiful Tart!! I also grew up with a Grav tree in the backyard, as well as the stories from my great-grandparents' Gravenstein apple farm on Spring Hill outside Sebastopol just after 1900. Sigh. They really are the best!

    I also make applesauce and apple butter from them! Mmmm!! And always freeze a few pies for special occasions that don't happen to be in season…

  38. I grew up in Graton, near Sebastopol and gma had Gravenstein trees in her yard. We just got a case from a local farm. They sure bring back memories. So sad that they are dying out. I think I need to get a few trees and plant them myself.


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