Pumpkin Brioche Apple Tart

pumpkin brioche apple tart

Bon Appétit has invited food bloggers (including me, wow!) to participate in their Blog Envy Bake-Off, which features a lineup of holiday treats, mostly gorgeous and mostly from people who know how to bake dessert. Now, we know I don’t do a lot in the way of desserts, but an invitation from Bon Appétit cannot be taken lightly. There are, however, certain requirements to consider.

Bon Appétit’s requirement:

  • Must be a holiday dessert.

My requirements:

  • Must have yeast (either that or change my name to Wild Chemical Leavening).
  • Must have fruit (hello, is it dessert without fruit?).
  • Must be a dough I love (so when I screw up the first pass on the tart — did I mention I don’t do desserts? — I don’t mind mixing the dough again).
  • Must be rustic (the culinary equivalent of “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature”).

This tart, made with a soft spiced pumpkin brioche crust, pumpkin seed (pepita) cream, and sweet-tart fall apples, fits the requirements, but is it worthy? I’ll leave that up to you. If you think so, I’d love it if you would vote for it here.

Note that the pumpkin brioche dough and pepita cream recipes make more than what you need for the tart. I used the extra of both to make cinnamon rolls — coming soon!

pumpkin brioche apple tart slice

Pumpkin Brioche Apple Tart

Yield: one 9-inch tart


  • Mix pumpkin brioche: about 15 minutes
  • First fermentation, 1 hour, plus overnight in the refrigerator
  • Prepare pepita cream: 10 minutes (can be prepared in advance)
  • Shape: 10 minutes
  • Proof: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Assemble: 10 minutes
  • Bake: about one hour


  • 300 g pumpkin brioche dough (recipe follows) that has been fermented overnight, shaped into a ball, and chilled
  • one egg, beaten with a fork
  • 1/2 cup pepita cream, at room temperature (recipe follows)
  • 4 firm, sweet-tart apples (I used Cameo)
  • one lemon wedge
  • 28 g (2 T.) unsalted butter, melted
  • 50 g (1/4 c.) brown sugar
  • 25 g coarsely chopped toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 T. apple jelly
  • powdered sugar for dusting


  1. On a floured surface, roll the chilled dough ball into a circle 10 inches in diameter.
  2. Place the dough into a well-buttered 9-inch springform pan. The dough will come slightly up the side of the pan.
  3. tart crust

  4. Brush the dough lightly and evenly with egg.
  5. Slip the pan into a plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap. Proof in a warm place (about 80F, or place a bowl of warm water in the bag) for 1.5 – 2 hours, until the dough feels light and has risen by about 75%. (Because the crust starts out quite thin, 75% risen is still pretty thin.)
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the pepita cream. If it has been made ahead, remove it from the refrigerator to soften.
  7. Also meanwhile, center a baking rack in the oven and preheat it to 350F.
  8. When the brioche has almost fully proofed, peel, halve, and core the apples, and rub the halves with lemon. Slice each apple half thinly but keep each sliced half together.
  9. Using an offset spatula, spread the pepita cream over the crust dough. Go slowly and lightly, being gentle with the dough.
  10. pepita cream

  11. Arrange the sliced apple halves over the pepita cream, fanning the slices out slightly but keeping each half together as a unit. You may not need all eight halves.
  12. Brush the edge of the crust lightly with egg.
  13. Brush the tops of the apples with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Sprinkle chopped pumpkin seeds over the tart.
  14. unbaked tart

  15. Bake the tart until the apples are tender, about one hour .
  16. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
  17. Heat the apple jelly to liquid consistency and brush it over the still-warm tart.
  18. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, dusted with powdered sugar, and with ice cream or not.

Pumpkin Brioche Dough

Yield: about 1800 g

Note: this is a lot more dough than is needed for one tart (300 g). Feel free to scale the recipe down. Or make the whole batch and bake it in other ways (see, for example, the shaping for this butternut brioche, and stay tuned for pumpkin cinnamon rolls). Or just make six tarts and use them to buy love.


  • Mix dough: about 15 minutes
  • First fermentation: 1 hour at room temperature, then overnight in the refrigerator
  • Divide and preshape: 10 minutes
  • Chill: 20 minutes
  • Shape: varies
  • Proof: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Bake: varies


  • 768 g flour
  • 40 g (about 2) egg yolks, cold
  • 100 g (about 2) whole eggs, cold
  • 425 g (one can) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 14 g ( 4.5 t.) instant yeast
  • 14 g (2-1/3 t.) salt
  • 2 g (3/4 t.) ground cinnamon
  • 2 g (3/4 t.) ground ginger
  • 1 g (1/2 t.) ground nutmeg
  • 1 g (1/2 t.) ground cardamom
  • 154 g sugar
  • 307 g unsalted butter, at room temperature


  1. Place flour, eggs, pumpkin, yeast, salt, and spices in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix at low speed for about 4 minutes. It is normal for the dough to be quite stiff at this point.
  2. With the mixer in medium speed, add the sugar very slowly, in 3 or 4 increments. Mix for about 2 minutes following each addition. (If you add the sugar too quickly, mixing will take longer.)
  3. Continue to mix in medium speed until the gluten reaches full development, i.e., you can stretch a paper thin, translucent “windowpane” from the dough.
  4. Turn the mixer back to low speed and add the butter all at once. Mix for a minute in low speed, then turn the mixer to medium speed and mix until the butter is completely incorporated. You should now have a dough that is very soft and satiny, quite extensible (stretchy) but also strong and elastic (springs back after being stretched)
  5. Transfer the dough to a covered, buttered container and ferment at room temperature for one hour.
  6. Press the dough to degas it and refrigerate it overnight (8 – 12 hours).
  7. Divide the and preshape the dough into the sizes and shapes you will need for your final product. (For the tart above, 300 g, preshaped into a ball. For small rolls, 50 g, also balls. For eight cinnamon rolls, 750 g, rolled into an approximately 8 x 10-inch rectangle.)
  8. Space the preshaped dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet and slip the sheet into a plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap.
  9. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes to re-chill thoroughly.
  10. The dough is now ready to be shaped, proofed, and baked.

Pepita Cream

Yield: 3/4 cup (1/2 cup is needed for the tart)


  • Mix: 10 minutes
  • Refrigerate: up to 2 days (optional)
  • Bring to room temperature: about an hour


  • 56 g toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 56 g fine granulated sugar
  • 18 g flour
  • 1.5 g (1/4 t.)salt
  • 56 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 25 g egg (this is about half an egg; use the other half to egg-wash the tart)
  • 2 g (1/2 t.) vanilla extract


  1. Place pepitas, sugar, flour, and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, then process until the pepitas are very finely ground.
  2. In a bowl, cream the butter with a hand mixer until fluffy.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla, and a tablespoon or so of the pepita mixture, and beat until the egg is incorporated.
  4. Add the remaining pepita mixture and mix until just incorporated.
  5. Refrigerate for up to two days. Bring to room temperature before using.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Oh, Susan! What a wonderful Tart! It is a feast for the eyes as well as for the palate!!! I’ve never made a tart before but do plan on making this one. With the desert “season” starting, it will be nice to have this to take to a dinner that’s not the same “run of the mill” potluck fare. Thanks for having such a wonderful blog to help this beginer!


  2. says

    Seems like the remaining food magazines are desperately trying to embrace the internet and food blogging world lately.
    I love your dessert – it is strikingly beautiful and so delicious looking!

  3. says

    oh you are so wrong about saying that you don’t do desserts – this is an amazing dessert – I would come to dinner at your place just for dessert – truly!

  4. Erin says

    Hi Susan,

    I just tried to vote for this, but couldn’t find it on Bon Appetit’s site. It looks phenomenal!

    Good luck!

  5. says

    If were being honest, this is the first contestant I have seen so I can’t promise my vote, although I really can’t imagine anyone having anything more desirable than this. I think I might actually try and make this, even if I am scared of yeast and have had a range of serious failures, I am confident this recipe will work.

  6. says

    Ugh! Hate bon appetit! (see latest rant on my blog and…) they made me register for their site and then I had to go through 4 pages to vote for you tart! You’re going to win, the other desserts weren’t nearly as nice as yours!! :grin:

    Congratulations on getting to participate, even though I hate Bon Appetit, I’d be lying if I said being asked to participate in their event wasn’t an honor. How cool!!

  7. lmnop says

    Hi Susan, I wanted to ask why you used commercial yeast instead of a sourdough starter? The reason I ask is, I am trying to make a sourdough brioche, but it seems the starter simply cannot make such bread rise much. Does one need store-bought yeast to rise this kind of bread?

  8. says

    Thank you everyone for your kind comments and your votes!

    If you tried to vote and couldn’t: my tart is on the pies and tarts page, which is reached by clicking “Vote on Next Batch” button through to the fourth or fifth page. It seems there was a glitch with the website for a while, and that button was unavailable; it seems to be fixed now.

    Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to vote!

  9. says

    This is such a beautiful display. It makes me hungry looking at it, and you have my vote as well :). I actually work with Del Monte, so I’m a fan of any fruit oriented tart lol. If you’re interested in more dessert ideas, look out for Fruit Chillers. They’re a new frozen treat out made with a pound of natural fruit, so are pretty healthy too. If you visit our website, we have great recipes to browse through (like homemade frozen yogurt!), and you can even grab some coupons while you’re there too :). Thanks again for your post!


  10. Royall says

    Aloha, Susan!

    Just got back from the cooking club party. I made this Pumpkin Brioche Apple Tart today and presented it to the hostess (it was her birthday!) and it looked almost as good as yours! I was a wonderful desert with lots of great flavors. Between the tart and the SD walnut/raisin bread I took the night was a big success for this novice!

    Big Mahalo to you!


  11. says

    a simply beautiful presentation. just got some tart heirloom apples yesterday that i now can’t wait to use in your recipe. best of everything in the competition. thanks for the inspiration!

  12. Royall says

    Hey Susan…. I made all that extra pumpkin brioche and put it in the freezer just waiting for the cinnamon roll recipe you mentioned above. What’s keeping you girl!!! ;^) It’s either that or make another tart! (which isn’t a bad thing!)

  13. judy says

    so i tried both recipes, since if you make the dough for the tart you have left over pumpkin dough,… so u must make the rolls! I Love Love your recipes! THX!!!

  14. NEX-5 says

    Ez a domain látszik, hogy kap egy jó adag látogatókat. Hogyan juthat forgalmat hozzá? Ez egy szép egyedülálló spin dolgokat. Azt hiszem, miután valami valós vagy jelent?s beszélni a legfontosabb dolog.


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