Apple Tart with Soft-Pretzel Crust

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soft pretzel apple tart recipe
Photo: Nico Schinco/Styling: Erin McDowell

Meet the apple tart with soft-pretzel crust, a sweet and salty (and oh-so-trendy) alternative to apple pie.

“The tart takes a little extra effort, but results in a truly stunning combination of soft-pretzel crust topped with juicy sliced apples,” said Erin McDowell, author of The Fearless Baker.

Serve it at your next holiday meal and we guarantee you’ll start a new tradition.  


Pretzel Tart

3½ cups (422g) bread flour

2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

¾ cup (170g) warm water (about 95°F)

2½ tablespoons (35g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Lye Solution (See Note)

¼ ounce food-grade lye

¾ cup (170g) boiling water

½ cup (113 g) cold water


2 apples, such as Honeycrisp, Gala or Fuji, core removed, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, melted

⅓ cup (66 g) granulated sugar

Pearl sugar, as needed for finishing


1. Make the Dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, water and butter on low speed for 3 minutes. Raise speed to medium and mix for 4 minutes more.

2. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until it’s doubled in size.

3. Make the Lye Solution (See Note Below): Pour the lye, without touching it directly, into a medium metal bowl. Pour the boiling water over the lye and stir with a metal spoon until the lye is dissolved. Stir in the cold water, and set aside. Be sure to label the mixture so it isn’t mistaken for regular water in your kitchen.

4. Assemble the Tart: When the dough has risen, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 12-inches wide. Gently transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.

5. Towards the end of rise time, preheat the oven to 425°F. While wearing gloves, brush the dough all over with the lye solution 4 times.

6. Arrange the apples evenly over the dough. Fan the slices out and then overlap the fanned sections as needed to fit all the apples on top, but leaving 1-inch of excess dough all the way around the dough.

7. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the apples, and sprinkle the sugar evenly over them. Sprinkle the pearl sugar around the exposed outer edge of the dough.

8. Transfer to the oven and bake until the pretzel is deeply golden brown and the apples are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool at least 20 minutes before serving.

Note: Lye will yield the best pretzel results—it makes the crust brown and the dough chewy. But it is also a powerful chemical that can impart a chemical burn if not handled carefully. Never touch the powdered lye directly with your hands—pour it into the bowl or use a spoon to handle it. When preparing the solution, cover your eyes (sunglasses work in a pinch, but goggles are best). When using the solution, it’s important to cover any exposed skin (wear gloves at all times). Wear gloves while you wash the dishes that made contact with lye, and wash your hands thoroughly when you're finished. As a safer alternative to lye, place 3 tablespoons baking soda in a medium bowl, and pour 1 cup boiling water over it, stirring until dissolved. This mixture will not provide the exact same results—the pretzels will not be as brown or as chewy.

Nutrition Facts
  • 232 calories

  • 7g fat

  • 38g carbs

  • 4g protein

  • 8g sugars

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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erin jeanne mcdowell

Freelance Food Editor

Erin Jeanne McDowell is a recipe developer, food stylist and author of multiple cookbooks, including The Fearless Baker, which was named one of the Best Baking Books of 2017 by...