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rhubarb apple tart & tulips on the table

we all bring something to the table. what are our gifts? what of ourselves do we decide to grow and then share? what love language do we speak? do we learn to speak another’s? how well do we listen?

my husband learned years ago that i love flowers. in the beginning he would order elaborate flower arrangements (full to overflowing) and have them delivered to the door. then, somewhere along the line, he learned i like simple, and all of one thing. and now, he brings me bundles wrapped in paper, wound with string, carried in his own man arms. and sometimes, after days away, blooms are there, welcoming me home again.

if you’ve been with me awhile, you’ve heard of my fear of pie. (more truly, it was fear of a colossal-y failed crust.) i’ve done truly brave things in my life (i’ll even cop to a “reckless” act or two) but pie crust? why and how this fear (irrational to begin with) grew to be such a beast, you might guess. but for years i steered clear of the rolling pin. then, only fairly recently, i decided to stand toe to toe with that tiger, stare unflinching into his golden eyes.

that tiger walks beside me now, purring like a kitten. and finally (and this is reason enough to take on a tiger) i can make my love his apple pie.

Apple Rhubarb Tart

I’ve shared my recipe for a tart shell in an earlier post. (see French Lemon Tart if you want to be tempted!) I’ll include the crust recipe here too, at the end of the post. I’d like to be humble about this, but after years of being humble, to finally be proud seems like something worthy of sharing. So here’s the un-softened, un-humble truth. This crust is   a.w.e.s.o.m.e.

A word about the filling: I grew up eating and loving rhubarb. To me, it’s a thing of spring. So as a base for this pie is a thick rhubarb “compote” of sorts – the liquid cooked out of it and nothing but the essence of the fruit remaining, lightly sweetened, imbued with the scented seeds from a vanilla pod and touched with a hint of cardamon. Apples, rolled in melted butter and brown sugar twirl across the top. Serve as is, warm from the oven, with or without ice-cream or crème fraîche. Or serve it chilled. It’s not too sweet for brunch or tea.

the Fillings

the rhubarb

  • 1 pound rhubarb stalks
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar or muscavado
  • 1/3 vanilla bean
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

the apple

  • 2 apples – Granny Smith or Pink Lady are good (or any other apple that will hold its shape while cooking)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar or muscavado

Wash the rhubarb stalks. Split in half lengthwise, then cut into pieces about 1/2-inch or smaller. Put in a medium-size heavy pot. Split the piece of vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, adding both the pod and seeds to the pot. Drop in the brown sugar and cardamom.

Place the lid on the pot and cook over low heat for 15 minutes or until saucy. (No water in this compote – the low heat will encourage the rhubarb to release its own moisture.)

Remove the lid from the pot, raise the temperature to medium and continue cooking at a spunky boil until the sauce is thick and a spoon leaves a “trail” on the pot’s bottom.Remove the vanilla pod. Cool to room temperature.

Peel and core the apple. Slice thinly and toss in a bowl with the melted butter and sugar.


Assembling the tart



Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C).

Spoon the cooled rhubarb evenly into the baked and cooled tart shell. Beginning at the outside edge, carefully place the apple slices in a ring, each piece overlapping the previous by about 1/4-inch. Place a second ring in the inside, using a couple other pieces beneath them to elevate the inner ring of apple slices if necessary.

Bake in a preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the apples are soft and gently browned. (Depending on the thickness of your slices, more time may be required. If in the process the apples begin to brown too much for your liking, place a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil over top for the remainder of the baking time.)

Remove from oven and cool (either slightly or fully) on a cooling rack.



Tart Pastry Shell

  • 1½ cups flour (185 g)
  • ½ cup (110 g) OR ¾ cup (170 g) cold butter, cut into pieces (see NOTE on the Pastry)
  • ¼ cup sugar (55 g)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla (optional)

NOTE on the Pastry: Two options are given for the quantity of butter to be used. The lesser amount will result in a shortbread-like pastry that rolls out cooperatively and forms nice smooth sides. The option using more butter results  in a much more fragile and delicate crust (one that absolutely melts in the mouth) but is more difficult to handle and will need to be patched in places and pressed into the pan.

Mix the flour and butter with your fingers, or in the food processor, until it resembles fine crumbs. Mix in the sugar. Using your fingers, now blend in the two egg yolks and vanilla (if using) just long enough for it to come together into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disk about 5 or 6 inches across. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight. (If overnight, allow it to sit on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes before rolling.)

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Roll out on a floured surface. (A bench scrape or long off-set spatula will help you to “unlock” it from the board if it gets stuck.) Roll it to a diameter of 2½ inches beyond the size of your tart pan.

Gently fold in fourths, place in tart pan, then unfold and press in place. Trim the top “waste” and make repairs where necessary.

Chill for a minimum of 30 minutes. (Important to do this.) Then line the chilled crust with parchment paper cut to several inches larger than pan. Fill to brimming with dried beans.

Place the shell in its pan atop a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes at 400°F (200°C). Remove from the oven, and lifting the parchment by the 4 corners, lift the beans from the shell. Return the shell to the oven, reduce temperature to 350°F (180°C) for 15 minutes or until it’s a golden brown and smells like heaven.


To print a sweet & shorter version, click here
45 Comments Post a comment
  1. Your tart is pretty and must be delicious. And the tulips — that’s just the kind of bouquet I like.

    April 18, 2012
    • thanks sharyn. they’re just what i like too. 🙂

      April 18, 2012
  2. I can’t wait for rhubarb to come into season here in the UK, this tart looks yummy! x

    April 18, 2012
    • Oh, so you’re behind us, eh? Well, enjoy and Thanks, Christina!

      April 18, 2012
  3. How absolutely beautiful! 🙂

    April 18, 2012
    • Why thank you! Never thought I’d make a pretty pie! 🙂

      April 18, 2012
  4. Stunning! This looks incredible. So proud of you for conquering the fear and declaring it awesome. Attagirl! And those tulips — be still my heart. What a beautiful sight upon returning home.

    April 18, 2012
    • Thanks so much for the attagirl Ashley! If I’d known it would be so easy, I wouldn’t have wasted all those pie-less years cowering from a rolling pin!! And yes, aren’t those tulips simply amazing? xo

      April 18, 2012
  5. What a lovely post and gorgeous looking dessert!

    April 18, 2012
    • Ahh, thank you so much Stephanie!

      April 18, 2012
  6. For having such a tart phobia, yours turned out beautiful. How is that new bundle of joy? Keeping you busy? Take care, BAM

    April 18, 2012
    • Sadly, the little bundle lives four-and-a-half hour’s drive from here, so he can’t keep me near busy enough. That old highway’s calling to me already! 🙂

      April 18, 2012
  7. Val #

    This ‘Not so humbly crusted rhubarb and apple tart’ is going on my ‘What to do with so much rhubarb’ list, less the the beautiful tulips! 😛

    April 18, 2012
    • Oh what a problem to have – too much rhubarb! You sent me a link for a rhubarb jam with vanilla bean…will you be making some this year? I sure plan to!

      April 18, 2012
      • Val #

        Rhubarb, Granny Smith & Vanilla? I most certainly will! It was the best of the jams I made last year! Two other good ones were… Rhubarb, Peach & Vanilla Jam, and Rhubarb, Orange & Chili Marmalade. Not so good were… Banana & Rhubarb Jam (some people did love it) and Strawberry, Rhubarb & Caramelised Onion Jam (I have been told that this is good with cheese, but that could have been politeness).

        April 19, 2012
        • OOO, I’d love to try your rhubarb, orange and chili marmalade too!! Wow does that sound amazing!

          April 19, 2012
  8. I may not like rhubarb but I’d have to blind not to see how beautiful that tart is! And I very much enjoy pastry so I will definitely try your pastry dough on some confection down the road. As always, Spree, a great post accompanied by some beautiful photography.

    April 18, 2012
    • I know you’ve given rhubarb a good go John and still can’t stand it. Must be your own body chemistry because it can’t possibly be the fault of the rhubarb! 😉 (I tease, but I’m actually also serious…I think sometimes we don’t like foods simply because we don’t – but other times I think it’s a matter of the different ways foods respond to the varying chemistries in people’s mouths. Tastes metallic to you? for a certain portion of the population that’s true. For the lucky rest of us, it’s wonderful!) if you’re an apple pie fan you could always cook down some applesauce (your own or good store bought) with vanilla bean and cardamom to a thick consistency and assemble the pie the same way. If you love pastry though, do give the crust a go. You will not be sorry! 🙂

      April 18, 2012
  9. I’ve made Rhubarb pie & I’ve made Apple pie but never put the two together .Here in the UK my Rhubarb is coming along nicely think ive found a use for it ! Lovely food,flowers &photography as always
    Regards Caroline (Gloucester,UK)

    April 18, 2012
    • Carrie, if you decide to try it, do let me know! And thank you so much for your very kind comment!

      April 18, 2012
  10. Oh, I love spring! I love tulips! I love your combination of apple and rhubarb, this looks and sounds incredible. I can’t wait to pick some fresh rhubarb this year. My mouth is watering 🙂

    April 18, 2012
    • Mine too, all over again! Apple and rhubarb were meant for each other! Thanks so much Sydney!

      April 18, 2012
  11. I’m a fan of rhubarb too. It’s very good with savoury too – such as with pork. Pictures are delicate and lovely.

    April 18, 2012
    • I’ve make a rhubarb chutney and agree with you completely on how good and savory rhubarb can be! Thanks for kind words Roger.

      April 18, 2012
  12. I’m basically going to baking school to learn how to make pie. Because 2.0 loves pie. But pie crust scares me. And I want him to bring me flowers in his man arms.

    Also, that tart makes me want to eat tarts, and tarts only.

    April 18, 2012
    • Oh Movita, you too?! Fear of crust? I would be there with pom poms and a rousing cheer for you! You can SO do this! Cross my heart! And start with tart! There may be no looking back! (I can almost guarantee you flowers in his man arms!) xox

      April 18, 2012
  13. Love the apple pattern on the tart- almost makes it too pretty to eat!

    April 18, 2012
    • almost, but NOT ! 🙂 thanks!

      April 18, 2012
  14. Congratulations Spree! That pie looks like it was made by a pro 🙂 Wow! I’m with you (yet another interest we share) on the flowers…I am obsessed. They bring me endless joy and beauty! Blessings!

    April 18, 2012
    • How sweet to get such joy from our obsessions!! (and thanks for the kudos Shira! Kind of nice feeling a bit “puffed up” over a pie I made! Who’d a thunk it?) 🙂

      April 19, 2012
  15. Looks so delicious!
    Rhubarb is not very common here, actually I tried it for the first time last year, and I loved it!
    The photo of the flowers is gorgeous too 🙂
    Hope you are doing great Antoinette 🙂

    April 18, 2012
    • Ahh, so you’re a recent rhubarb convert! Nothing quite like it, is there? Life is SO good Pablo, thank you! And I’m hoping yours is too! 🙂

      April 19, 2012
  16. I´m so with you on the flowers and it´s one of the little things I miss about London – being able to buy a bunch of spring flowers outside a tube station for very little money. Here you can only buy them in the big towns (in a florist) and they are huge, ugly and very expensive arrangements on the whole 😦 Anyway, you brightened me up with your rhubarb tart (love it) and the perfect pie shell..beautiful. Hope all is going well with the family!

    April 19, 2012
    • Oh too sad Tanya! Truly, that Would be hard! I imagine you’ve been bringing bulbs in from back home when you can? I so know what you mean about those ginormous ugly expensive arrangements. They seem better suited to the top of a casket than to our tables! Give us sweet and simple and true any day!! Our family is doing SO well Tanya! Can hardly wait for my next little journey south! Still rain and wind on your mountain? Is here, but promises of sun!

      April 19, 2012
      • Yes, I bought daffodil and tulip bulbs fromthe UK. the daffs did well but the tulips less so. Will try again though this autumn to plant more. Glad all is well, it´s bright but cold and windy here and we are off to the UK next week for 5 days, so am digging out my folding umbrella!

        April 20, 2012
  17. I love simple hand- tied bouquets.. And the color in these tulips is so brilliant and cheery! He must be so happy to have you home:) I also the the rich ruby color of your rhubarb and the spiral apple slices are a delightful topper! This must have been the loveliest of tarts your grateful guinea pig has ever tasted:) I would crave a taste of that cardamom filled heaven:)

    April 19, 2012
    • I know! Besides a long hug, what could say welcome home any better than those beauties? GGP is happy to have me home…we pretty much like spending our lives together! 🙂 By the way, the house next to us is for sale. It’s beautiful. Has Smidge all over it. Would you consider being my next door neighbor? xoxo

      April 19, 2012
      • Oh my.. that would be soooo fun!! Imagine what we could bake, you’d better take a picture of it and post it on your spreenkles page with a title like.. Smidge’s new home;) Seriously, that would be too fun!!

        April 19, 2012
  18. Hats off to you for facing the tiger, it feals so good to concer a fear especially one that is irrational.
    I love simple gestures that mean the peron opposite you knows you so well 🙂

    April 22, 2012
  19. What an absolutely perfect pie! I must try that pie crust, I need a good reliable recipe.

    April 24, 2012
  20. What a gorgeous tart!! I keep telling myself I need to cook/bake something with rhubarb, but have yet to do that. Your tart crust is perfect. 🙂

    April 25, 2012
  21. Deb schneider #

    Heavenly 🙂

    April 25, 2012
  22. apple. rhubarb. tulips. heaven.

    May 20, 2012
  23. 🙂

    July 14, 2014

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