At my language school in France, they served a tarte aux pommes in the cafeteria. I was determined to find out how to make it. Since the tarte really is about the apples, I chose the Jonagold apple: not too sweet or too tart, it has the perfect balance. (Note: you’ll only use half of the crust, so reserve the other half for another tart. It’ll stay fresh in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.)
Crust: Place flour on a clean surface (preferably marble, granite, or wood). Make a well in the center. To the well, add salt, sugar, butter, and 1 tablespoon ice-cold water. With your fingertips, push the flour and butter together until large clumps form, adding more water if the mixture seems too dry to come together. When the mixture begins to look shaggy, begin pushing it forward with the heel of your hand. Continue pushing it together until the flour and butter are a single mass of dough. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour (or freeze up to 2 weeks).
Parbake crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place a box grater into the glass pie dish. Grate half of the chilled (or frozen) dough on the wide holes of a box grater directly onto the bottom of the pie dish. Gently press the dough into the bottom of the dish; it should be ¼-inch thick. (Grate additional dough if it’s too thin. Reserve remaining dough for another tart.) Lightly butter one side of a sheet of parchment paper and lay it onto the dough, buttered side down. Fill the pie dish with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove weights, beans, or rice and parchment paper, and continue baking uncovered until lightly brown, 10–15 minutes.
Apple filling: Cut apples in half, core, and trim stem. Cut into very thin half-moon slices and place into a large mixing bowl.
In the bowl, toss the apples with half of the melted butter and all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Pile the apples into the parbaked crust, then drizzle the remaining butter and sprinkle the rest of the sugar on top. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, 35-40 minutes.
Remove the tarte from the oven and cool slightly, 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into pieces. Serve warm or room temperature.