recipe

Lemon Tart: the ultimate recipe for the perfect zesty dessert

Total time: 1H + Chilling Time
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 8 people
By Cookist
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With the perfect balance of tart and sweet, this refreshingly tangy lemon tart is a gorgeous dessert to make when the weather's warm outside. Boasting a buttery, flaky crust and a smooth, rich, lemony custard-like filling, lemon tart, or tarte au citron, as it's known in French, is an elegant, delicious dessert for any occasion.

French lemon tart is surprisingly easy to make, and it's a great way to use up extra lemons. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make lemon tart!

Lemon Tart vs. Lemon Pie

While lemon tart and lemon pie have a similar taste, there are a few key differences. The lemon curd filling used for lemon tart contains more lemon juice and lemon zest compared to a lemon pie. Tarts are more shallow than pies, so a lemon pie will be deeper and have more filling.

French Lemon Tart Ingredients

Although lemon tart is a fancy enough dessert, you don't need any special ingredients to make it at home.

For the crust, you'll need flour, butter, sugar, egg yolk, and cream. To make the flakiest, butteriest crust, make sure all your ingredients are cold.

For the filling, grab some lemons (preferably organic) and zest and juice them. Nothing compares to freshly squeezed lemon juice when it comes to baking.

You'll also need some sugar to balance the sweetness, and butter, eggs, and egg yolks to thicken the custard and give the filling its silky, rich flavor and texture.

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How to Make Lemon Tart

Are you ready to make the best French lemon tart to serve this summer? It's easier than you might think. Gather your ingredients, and let's get started!

Making the Crust

To make that beautiful buttery, flaky crust, start by mixing the egg yolk and cream in a small bowl. Put it to the side for the moment. Next, combine the flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Stir to combine. Chop the cold butter into the flour mixture with a dough scraper. Keep going until the pieces are about pea-sized.

Take your cream-egg yolk mixture and add it to the flour. Mix it well with a fork to form a dough. Put the dough onto a sheet of cling film, then shape it into a disc. Wrap it well and pop it in the fridge for an hour. Roll the dough out and arrange it in your tart pan.

Cut off any excess from the edges, then freeze the crust for about half an hour. In the meantime, heat your oven to 375F. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 350F. Now onto the filling!

Making the Lemon Tart Filling

To make the lemon curd filling for your tart, begin by beating the eggs and egg yolks in a bowl. Set them aside. Put the lemon zest, lemon juice, butter, and sugar in a pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it begins to bubble. Take the lemon mixture off the heat.

Now, this next step is key. Slowly add in the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Don't pour too quickly otherwise, the eggs will cook, which you don't want. Put the mixture back into the pot and cook it on low. Stir constantly until the filling thickens and begins bubbling. Once the lemon curd coats the back of a wooden spoon, it's done cooking.

Strain into a bowl. Cover with cling film, making sure the cling film touches the top of the curd. This will stop the curd from forming a skin.

Baking the Lemon Tart

Pour the lemon curd into the tart shell. Bake for 10 minutes, then transfer to the fridge to set for two hours. Once the tart sets, slice it, serve it, and enjoy!

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Lemon Tart Decoration Ideas 

Decorate your lemon tart with thinly sliced lemon wheels, fresh fruit like blueberries or raspberries, edible flowers, or some homemade whipped cream.

What to Serve with Lemon Tart

Serve your lemon tart with a dollop of homemade whipped cream or ice cream and a small scoop of fresh in-season berries. It's also fabulous with berry or fruit compote, Devonshire cream, or custard.

Tips for Making the Best Lemon Tart 

You can make the crust and lemon curd two to three days in advance then assemble and bake the pie on the day you'd like to serve it.

Use freshly squeezed lemon juice to make your lemon curd. You'll taste the difference.

When making the crust, make sure your butter is very, very cold. This is essential for a flaky pastry crust.

You can always buy store-bought crust and lemon curd if you're short on time.

Don't pour the eggs into the butter too quickly. If you do, the eggs will cook, and you'll have to start over.

When covering the curd with cling film, make sure the cling film touches the top of the curd. This will stop a skin from forming over the top.

Once your curd is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, it's ready to come off the heat. Don't forget: it will thicken up more as it cools, so don't worry if the consistency isn't quite right initially.

If your tart isn't setting, it might be because the lemon curd wasn't cooked long enough.

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How to Store Lemon Tart

Cover or wrap your lemon tart, then place it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Can You Freeze Lemon Tart?

You can freeze lemon tart to enjoy at a later date. To make your life a bit easier, consider cutting the tart into individual pieces before freezing it. Let the tart defrost in the fridge overnight before serving and eating it.

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Ingredients
for the crust
All-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups
Salt
1/4 tsp
cold butter, diced
1/2 cup
White sugar
1/4 cup
Cream
2 tbsp
egg yolk
1
for the curd
Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup
Lemon zest
2 tbsp
White sugar
1 cup
Butter
1/2 cup
Eggs
4
Egg yolks
2

Instructions

For the crust

Combine the egg yolk and cream in a bowl. Set off to the side.

Sift the flour into a large bowl.

Add the sugar, and salt. Stir to combine.

Add the cold butter.

Chop the butter into the flour with your hands or a bench scraper.

Mix until the pieces are pea-sized.

Pour the yolk mixture into the flour mixture.

Combine with a fork to form a dough. Arrange a piece of cling film on your work surface. Turn the dough out into the cling film. Shape the dough into a disc, cover with plastic, then place in the fridge for at least one hour.

Preheat your oven to 375F. Roll the dough out to 10 inches. Put the dough in your tart pan, cutting off any excess from the edges. Put in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Bake the tart crust for 20 minutes or until it turns lightly golden. Lower the temperature to 350F and prepare the filling.

For the filling

Beat the eggs and egg yolks in a bowl.

Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, butter, and sugar in a pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to bubble. Take the lemon mixture off the heat.

Slowly add in the egg mixture, stirring constantly.

Put the filling back into the pot over low flame.

Stir constantly until the filling thickens and begins bubbling. Once the lemon curd coats the back of a wooden spoon, it's done cooking.

Strain into a bowl.

Cover with cling film, making sure the cling film touches the top of the curd.

Pour the lemon curd into the tart shell.

Bake for 10 minutes, then transfer to the fridge to set for two hours.

Slice, serve and enjoy!

Notes

Use a 9-inch tart pan to bake your lemon tart.

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