I have a very good friend who has worked in some of the best kitchens in SA as a pastry chef. Her resume is, needless to say, pretty impressive and when I had breakfast with her yesterday, I was telling her about my hassles with lemon tart and how it always ends up like lemony scrambled eggs or the filling never sets. She told me about this insane lemon tart she used to make at one of the best boutique hotels in the country and how it was fool proof. She gave me the recipe and I got working the moment I got home.
One thing I was happy to see was that there were no fancy-pants techniques or equipment necessary (which is often the case with professional chef’s recipes). I think the trick to a perfect, smooth and tangy lemon tart is to make sure you bake it at a really low temperature so the eggs don’t get a chance to go into shock and curdle. They almost just mellow themselves into a smooth, rich custard. The shortcrust base also needs to be fully baked before you pour in the custard as this will prevent it from going soggy. As a back-up, I brushed the base with beaten egg white and allowed it to dry, just to make sure.
I took the tart out of the oven when it was a little jiggly in the centre and allowed it to cool to room temperature before popping it into the fridge to set completely (pretty much like a Crème brûlée). When it came to serving the tart, I was delighted that the filling was smooth, creamy and just set. I can’t stand it when a custard-based tart has a rubbery filling and this lemon tart was just perfection. I used my tried and tested sweet shortcrust recipe flavoured with a little lemon zest as the base and the light, buttery and biscuity base was perfectly complemented by the tart filling. This, is why I call this tart the Ultimate Lemon Tart (Tarte au citron). Because it well and truly is!
The ultimate Lemon TartPrint Pin Rate Add to Shopping ListGo to Shopping List
for the sweet shortcrust pastry
- 250 g cold butter cubed
- 400 g flour
- 100 g icing sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 egg yolks
- 3-4 T ice water
for the filling
- 500 ml cream
- 250 g sugar
- 9 extra-large free range eggs
- 250 ml lemon juice
- zest of 2 lemons
- To make the pastry, combine the butter, icing sugar, flour and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse until the mixture resembles rough bread crumbs.
- Add the egg yolks and with the blender running, pour in the water, spoon by spoon until the mixture comes together in a ball.
- Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and shape into 2 discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°c. Roll the chilled pastry out on a floured surface and press into 2x 28cm tart cases.
- Blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes then remove the baking paper and baking beans and return the pastry back to the oven for another 10 minutes to finish baking.
- Remove and set aside while you make the filling. Turn the oven down to 100°c.
- For the filling, heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan until small bubbles appear around the edge of the pan, do not allow to boil.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs.
- When the cream is hot, slowly pour into the eggs, whilst continuously whisking.
- Pour in the lemon juice and lemon zest and mix well.
- Strain the mixture into a jug and carefully pour into the baked tart cases.
- Bake the tart for 50 minutes until the edges are set and the centre is still slightly jiggly.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge to cool completely.
- When you are ready to serve, slice the tart and serve with a dusting of icing sugar.
- Blind baking: Line the pastry with a round of baking paper and add baking beans, dried beans or rice.
- This recipe makes 2x28cm tarts. If you don't want to make two, simply freeze the remaining pastry and filling for another time. Alternatively, you could use the remaining filling to make little lemon pots. Just pour the filling into oven-proof ramekins and bake with the tart until the pots are a little jiggly in the middle, then cool and eat.
I tried the recipe many times. It is very good but mine always cracks. Is it a secret to that? I did not tried straining the filling because I thought the lemon zest would stay out. Can I have your thoughts? Could be from the type of cream?
It could be that your oven is a little too hot. The tart cooks to quickly and then cracks. The recommend following the recipe exactly for best results. I use heavy/whipping cream. 🙂
This looks amazing just wanted to ask what type of cream do you use for the filling?
Cooling cream or sweet whipped cream?
Heavy cream or as it is also sometimes called, whipping cream.
Just clarifying – in the filling you use while eggs, not just the egg yolks (I ask because I’ve had to separate them in the last for a different recipe). Thanks
Yup, whole eggs. 🙂
This was my first dessert that I have made that involved me making the pasty. It was a huge hit with my family and friends!
I’m so happy to hear that.
Thanks Alida. This sounds wonderful. Is the oven temperature for fan force oven?
No, just regular oven.
I would love to make this for Easter dessert but I’m in the US and can’t seem to figure out the conversions from grams and ml to cups and tablespoons. Tried using the conversion chart but math really isn’t my friend. Has anyone done the conversions?
This really is the kind of recipe that requires weighing the ingredients. I’ve never tried it with cup measures and can’t guarantee its success that way.
This looks very exciting!!!!!!!!
I am wondering if I can bake it tonight, and then keep it in the fridge for a work lunch tomorrow?
And then following that, would I keep it in the tin until ready to serve the next day, or would that affect the crisp factor of the crust?
I think that will be perfect. And perhaps let it cool out of the tin first and then pop it back in?
Could I divide all the ingredients by half if I don’t want to make 2? I’m just not sure how to divide the 9 eggs for the filling though :\
You could, I’ve never done it so can’t guarantee the same end result. I would use 5 eggs just to make sure it sets properly.
This is one of the many recipes from this site that have become one of my standards. Love it. I use single cream… Seems to come out ok to me.
So glad you like this recipe Chris. And thank you for your lovely comment. 🙂
can you substitute whipping cream with half n half>
I wouldn’t make any substitutions Alyssa. This is one of those recipes that will flop really quickly if you don’t follow it to a t.
This impressed the pants off my family! The filling is so smooth and creamy and the crust turned out perfect. I didn’t do anything differently except I mixed the pastry dough by hand because I only have a mini food processor and I knew I couldn’t fit all this dough in there. It was a lot of steps- but so worth it – thank you for this amazing recipe!
Oh yay! I am SO glad you and your family liked this tart Virginia! It is quite a lengthy recipe but so worth it. Thanks for your lovely comment.
Hi Alida, I tried making your sweet shortcrust pastry and after blind baking the pastry puffed up like a blimp and completely shrunk? I’m not quite sure where I went wrong?
Hi Amy. Did you rest the pastry before and after rolling out? Did you line the pastry with baking paper and beans/rice/baking weights before you blind baked it? That method is used to prevent the pastry from puffing up and the resting of the pastry is crucial in preventing it from shrinking.
Hi Alida. I rested the pastry for around 2 hours before rolling it and popped it in the freezer for 10-15min before baking it off. I long do you normally rest the pastry for after lining the tart cases?
Love the look of this recipe…could I make little individual tarts as in a shallow muffin tin? How long would I cook them for if so?
Jess, you could but you’ll have to watch them very carefully so that they don’t overcook. I would check on them every 10 minutes or so.
Sure, I think that would be lovely Shannon.
Can u substitute lime juice for the lemon juice?
Anna, it’s around 50-60ml.
3-4T ice water – how much is it? I don”t know this measure.
Destiny, to be honest, I really don’t know how you would make this without the egg. :/
I would love to make this but don’t eat egg, could you suggest a suitable replacement?
Thanks for this info! I am eager to try your recipes, so now I will have the necessary tools to do so!
Only a pleasure Kara.
Please, As a novice what does
convert to in cups, tablespoons, etc ???
And is “icing sugar” the same as powered sugar?
Kara, for conversions, please refer to the conversion chart: http://simply-delicious-food.com/2014/03/26/conversion-chart/
And yes, icing sugar is powdered sugar.
Yes, most definitely. I would sprinkle with caster sugar and then brulee with a kitchen blow torch.
I luuurrrvve lemon tart and always struggle when trying to make it at home, so eager to try this recipe. Is it possible to brûlée the top of this one as a variation?
Yes that’s what i would do.
Thank you for this recipe! It looks delicious! Just a quick qs, would you freeze the remaining filling uncooked? shall I just put it into a container, then defrost when needed and back normally?
What kind of cream specifically should be used with this recipe?
Heavy cream or whipping cream.
Could coconut cream be used instead?
Kara, I don’t know how coconut cream would react in this dessert and as I haven’t tried that yet, I don’t want to recommend it and then it doesn’t work out. If you do try it, please let me know how it turned out.