A Lemon Tart

Who doesn't love a lemon tart? Yes, I know some of us like a slice of Lemon Meringue Pie and my sister is crazy for something slightly different called Lemon Angel Pie which uses meringue as a crust rather than a topping. I'm not turning anything down you understand; I'm up for lemon anything, but my hands down favorite is a tart.

Dorie Greenspan defines the difference between a pie and a tart: a tart gives equal billing to all three components: the crust, the filling and the topping, if there is one. Every bite contains equal amounts of each. Pies, on the other hand, have more filling, a little less topping and even less crust.

So here's the thing: the crust of a tart has got to be really good. Once that's made, everything else is a breeze. Nothing is simpler than a lemon tart. I'm going to give you the crust recipe first; you'll find this makes a flaky, perfect crust. The trick is to use a solid shortening like Crisco along with butter. It's simple enough to make in a food processor. Now if you're anything like me, you'll mess it up rolling it out. But tarts are very forgiving; if you screw up, fix it by repairing it with your fingers. Just try not to over-handle the dough, that's a great big No No.

Here's a question for you: when someone puts a piece of pie or tart in front of you, where do you cut your first forkful? At the foremost point facing you? Well, I go to the back and cut a corner of the crust first. As far as I'm concerned if the crust is no good,  I'm not wasting the calories.

This recipe makes enough for 2 crusts. Use one now and freeze the other.

The Crust


2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
5 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening,cold
Ice water
One 9 inch tart pan, with fluted edges and a removable bottom


Place the flour, sugar and salt in your food processor. Pulse a couple times.
Add the butter and shortening all at once and pulse 5-10 times or until the mixture forms moist crumbs. Sprinkle four tablespoons of  ice water over the crumbs and pulse just until the dough comes together. It should barely be together- not a ball.
Bring the dough together on a floured surface to form a disc and cut it in half. Wrap the discs in in plastic wrap. You can freeze one disc now for use later. Refrigerate the other half for at least 30 minutes.

For this tart, we need a par-baked crust. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 3/8 inch thick. Fit the dough into your tart pan. I use a rolling pin across the top of the tart pan to cut the extra dough off.
Prick holes in the bottom of the tart with a fork, line it with tin foil and fill with weights or beans. Bake in a 400°  oven for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and take out the foil and weights. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Cool on a rack.

The Filling

Now for the filling. Only four ingredients.  Eggs, sugar, lemon and cream. How easy is that? I've had tarts  filled with a lemon curd and others with a creamier filling. I like a mixture; not too much filling and not as tart as lemon curd. And I'm a purist. No whipped cream on top, no piped meringue; at most, a dusting of confectioners sugar.

I was fortunate enough to find some Meyer lemons for my tart too.
Has anyone ever told you why Meyer lemons are so good? The Meyer lemon is a hybrid, a cross between a regular lemon and either an orange or a mandarin, slightly sweeter than a regular lemon. Frank Meyer, a plant explorer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found them growing near Peking and introduced them to the U.S. in 1908. They're grown mainly in California, but Texas and Florida grow them too. The season starts around November and lasts through January, although often a month or so longer. I was lucky to find some this late in the season.

Baked Lemon Tart
From Once Upon a Tart by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau


1 par-baked crust
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
3/4 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 350°.
Whisk the eggs and yolks together. While still whisking, add the sugar, then the lemon juice, rind and then the cream.
Pour this mixture into your par-baked shell. Fill it to within 1/8 inch from the top edge.
CAREFULLY place the tart on the center rack of your oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the filling is firm to the touch and doesn't jiggle when you shake the pan.
Set on a rack to cool. Remove tart from pan very carefully.


  1. That tart looks absolutely mouth watering. Love lemon everything!

  2. And me? If it's not lemonade, I'm not a fan. But lime? That's another story...

  3. Beautiful! I've been on a lemon kick lately. I just love them and I think they remind me that Spring/Summer is coming!

  4. Thats exactly the first thought that went thru me too-dont we all jus love a good lemon tart? and specially after an overdose of chocolates?

  5. I adore sweet lemon in everything, fresh lemonade to meringue pie.

    This is a new one for me, scrumptious, it's like a lemon custard filling isn't it? Thank you.

  6. So appropriate for the coming of spring. Looks fab. I've got a great recipe for lemon tart. A Pierre Herme one, but I haven't tried it yet.
    Bad housewife, bad!
    Good Barbara, good LOL
    *kisses* HH

  7. I am just a lemon fan in general...lemon bars, lemon pie, lemon tart (not really meringue cause I don't like meringue itself very much). I like your take on the crust though...why waste the calories if it's not just the way you like it!

  8. Jessica: Me too!

    Chan: :(

    Julie: It's definitely a tart full of sunshine!

    Vanilla: We do seem to have been overdosing on chocolate, haven't we?

    Clarity: Kind of like a custard, but the filling is not cooked first.

    HH: I have that recipe too. He makes a custard/creme so then you don't cook the filling in the tart.

  9. That came out beautifully! I like lemon everything!

  10. Barbara> I never knew that about there being a tart formula... how kind you are to share it! Now, however, I could kill you for giving me another brilliant lemon recipe.... I love lemon and this looks divine. I think I am gonna have to copy this recipe... your execution is perfect too!!! Great post. I just got some organic uber fab leaf lard... I wonder if that would work???

  11. I never knew the difference between a tart and a pie. We call them all "cakes"!

  12. Joanne: Me too....love all things lemon!

    BD: Can't wait for your BBQ sauce!

    Deana: First of all, Crisco has recently introduced a zero trans fat shortening... but there is no reason your lard wouldn't work. Probably more flavor in it too.

  13. Oh BARBARA, ofcourse i dint mind-i love honesty and coming from a sweety like u....i grin....well im more of a pepsi n tang lover and love sweety drinks ....i do have rum n vodka but thats for fruit cakes n vanilla extracts :-))))

    Oh i couldn agree more on the upside down cakes,me a sucker too......and thanx a ton for hopping by....

  14. Unfortunately I am crust impaired.

  15. I just love anything with lemons but tart has to be my favourite. Thanks for clearing up the confusion between tarts and pies. I must admit that tart pastry isn't my speciality so I'm dying to try your recipe. Meyer lemons have always fascinated me too but I'll just have to make do with the standard ones. Your tart is absolutely stunning and I can only imagine how it must taste.

  16. It is absolutely the most delicious tart. My favorite!

  17. Barbara, such a nice lemon tart...love the idea of using heavy cream...yummie!

  18. Your tart looks devine! I do make a good lemon cream pie (not a meringue fan) I needed a good lemon recipe when my lemon tree gets so full it breaks the branches!

  19. Hi Barbara,

    I am very fond of anything lemon and often make a lemon meringue pie.
    Your lemon tart looks delicious and thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Have a great week

  20. oh my goodness, i would give just about anything right now for a slice of that tart, mouthwatering!

  21. Thanks for that pie/tart definition - I always thought a tart was an uncovered version of pie (silly me!). And I love your pie eating technique, how clever! The tart itself looks fab...such a winning post Barbara :)

  22. Gorgeous and completely comforting!

  23. Our lemon tree is bursting with it's bounty and I can't wait to give this a try, it looks and sounds divine! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!!

    Wishing you a wonderful and blessed week sweet friend!!


  24. I am a slave to anything lemon. Please, please come over and make this for me!

  25. Lemon is dessert is amazing. Great tart! :)

  26. oh that looks good n i like the fact that you hv nt topped it with cream or meringue..its certainly healthier. I cld have a BIG slice right now. ^^

  27. wow love anything with lemons

  28. Wow! nice to see a tart bursting with tang lemony flavors. Looks way healthier without any cream topping.

  29. Delicious! Eureka lemons are my favorite. Clear, tart lemon flavor. I'm sure this tart will be perfect with them.

  30. My mom will LOVE this. I HAve to make it for her sometime!! Thank you for this gorgeous recipe!

  31. The lemon tart sounds amazing especially with the Meyer lemons!

  32. This lemon tart looks too perfect! It must taste sensational!

  33. Barbara, I'm with you on liking a simple lemon tart more than the ubiquitous "tarte au citron meringuée"! I like that your recipe doesn't include butter--I didn't even try Hermé's recipe when I saw how much went into the curd and how much tart I was likely to eat :) In macarons, though, it's amazing!

  34. Hands down that has got to be one of the best lemon tarts I have ever seen! I didn't even realize there was a difference between a pie and a tart - thanks for letting me know!

  35. 'as far as I'm concerned if the crust is no good, I'm not wasting the calories.'
    right on! i had previously always started with the little tip, but no more! :)

  36. Yum! I love lemon tarts. I recently made a passionfruit tart - and it needed a bit of lemon for some zing!

  37. Francesca: That's why I love blogging...we learn so much from each other.

    Vanilla: I'm crazy about pineapple unpside down cakes!

    Pam: Funny comment!

    Vanessa: Regular lemons are what this recipe calls for..I just got lucky with the Meyer lemons.

    Elra: Mine too!

    Julianna: The cream addition made it less tart.

    Lyndsey: You are so lucky to have a lemon tree!

    Carolyn: Have you ever made the Lemon Angel Pie? It's my sister's favorite.

    Simply Life: Thanks!

    Teresa: It was divine!

    Shaz: Crusts are so important!

    Karyn: Lucky you with a lemon tree!

    TKW: Would if I could!

    Karine: Thanks!

    Zurin: Don't need the extra calories. Besides, any toppings are really decoration anyway!

    Rebecca: Me too!

    MD: I agree!

    Mimi: It was delicious!

    Sophia: Hope your mom loves this as much as we do!

    Natasha: I love using Meyer lemons, don't you?

    Christine: It did!

    Lucie: Yes, in macarons you must!

    Trissa: It's a great recipe.

    Grace: If I'm at someone's home and don't like the crust, I just eat the filling!

    Anita: Passion Fruit is lovely...it would make a fabulous tart!

    Bridgett: Yes, it is!

  38. Lemon desserts are my favorite, so refreshing. This tart looks wonderful - and how lucky that you were able to find the Meyer lemons! Must have been divine.

  39. I've been thinking about lemon lately. Love your tart and can't wait to make one.

  40. I'll take two pieces, hold the coffee!! Haha great recipes


  41. Sophie: It really was!

    Nancy: I was amazed to find them last week. Gone now, however!

    Judy: I really love lemon tarts...not too much filling, just right.

    Bonnie: Wish I could have shared it!

  42. How beautiful. I love lemon anything, but lemon tart is way up there. As for where I begin eating said piece of tart, always the little point facing me. I just think it's so inviting!

  43. Love the pucker from a lemon tart - yours look gorgeous!

  44. Love anything lemon and happen to have a bunch of meyer lemons right now. Looks like a fabulous recipe.

  45. I'm bookmarking this right now! Funny thing is my husband feels the same way about crust but I'm more of a filling kinda gal. I have been craving all things lemon lately. I think it's spring fever!

  46. I adore lemon desserts and lemon tart is one of my all-tome favorites.
    This looks absolutely wonderful. Have a great day, Barbara.

  47. It looks so golden and pretty!

  48. Wow this looks so wonderful! I love lemon desserts. I have trouble getting Meyer Lemons round here. I will have to ask aroud.

  49. Such a lovely looking tart, I'm sure it is delicious.
    I enjoyed your verrines post very much, especially Jamie's Eton Mess verrines. Pukka!

  50. Hi Barbara, I love anything with lemons in them most especially when paired with a nice flaky pastry crust. This recipe looks especially luscious. We have a few Meyer Lemons on our indoor Lemon tree that I may use to make this.
    Thanks for giving us all a wonderful Spring Treat to bake

  51. Beautiful! I am a big fan of lemon tart. By the way, tomorrow, I'll be making some tartlets...



  52. Hungry Dog: But what if the crust is tough??

    Cate: Thanks!

    Lea Ann: Lucky you!

    Kathleen: Then this might not be your favorite tart....not a ton of filling.

    Mary: Mine too!

    Blonde Duck: It might keep Bunny away from cookies!

    Bryan: Meyer lemon season is as good as over. Regular lemons work fine.

    Maggie: That Eton Mess is a great dessert, no matter what it's served in!

    Bunny: You're welcome!

    Rosa: Good! I'll check with in with you tomorrow!

  53. I am on the same page: IF THE CRUST is mediocre, forget it!
    I love the taste of lemon in anything especially in a tart, it needs to make me pucker my lips and then I am happy!
    Great looking tarte!

  54. I did wonder what the big deal was about meyer lemons. I would be mightily surprised if I came across them here. I still love this tart though and I will give that crust a go. It sounds like a good all rounder :)

  55. I love that idea! From now on I am tasting all pies and tarts crust-first. If it's not to-die-for, not wasting the calories!

  56. Your lemon tart is stunning...and the crust sounds fantastic (I agree, the crust is a total dealbreaker :) ). Lemon Angel Pie sounds delicious also!

  57. Ahhhh, lemon tart! My ideal dessert, any day, any time.

  58. This is absolutely going on my To Do list for several reasons. Love, love, love, the Meyer lemons, but I'm always intimidated by the crust. But when you said you even messed up - and it was forgiving - I felt like I may be able to handle this one! I think my family would really enjoy it. Thank you for sharing this.

  59. All this time I've been eating pies wrong! Thank you for pointing that out! I'm going on a cruise soon and most of the buffet desserts look pretty but are not worth eating. I'm definitely going to eat the crust end first and see if it's worth the calories!

    The tart looks calorie worthy!

  60. I'm puckering "as we speak" Barbara. I'm yet to "master" a tart crust or a pie crust for that matter. But, I am working on it:) Thank you so much for sharing. It looks yummy!!!

  61. It's so true Barbara! A good crust can really make or break a pie and like you I don't eat the crust if it's no good as it's not worth the calories. I'm going to try your idea next time! :D

  62. Holy TART heaven!!!

  63. Excellent work. This tart looks delicious! I've been craving lemon lately.

  64. Joumana: This crust recipe is very tender and flaky!

    Jacqueline: Regular lemons work just as well. There is just a slightly different taste to Meyer lemons; not enough to notice in this recipe though.

    Apples and Butter: Pies can get away a little more with a poor crust because there is so much filling...but I still think crusts are important.

    Faith: My sister adores that pie. I have made it once, but it was way too sweet for me.

    Molly: Mine too!

    Blackberry Jam: I'm a complete loser at crust making but this one works!

    Barbara: Funny! Have fun on your cruise!

    Louise: Try this crust; I promise it turn out really well.

    Lorraine: I'm going to turn everyone into crust fanatics!

    Monique: You can say that again! Thanks for visiting.

    Emily: I crave lemon ALL the time!

  65. The cookie stealing bunny doesn't have a brother, but he's very quick and sneaky....

  66. I've actually never had a lemon tart before. But I do love lemon meringue pie. that used to be the only kind of pie I would eat! If I ever get a tart pan, this will be first on the list of things to make :)

  67. I love lemon tarts! They remind me of the ones I would bake in France and have not done in a very very long time!

  68. Blonde Duck: Well then, that's the answer!

    Megan: Oh please try this one. You'll love it!

    Dolce: I remember some fabulous lemon tarts when I was in Paris! I do love Paris.

  69. I love lemon pies and tarts. Just bought a new tart pan and will be trying out the crust as well as the filling!

  70. Wow! The tart looks perfect. I guess I never really knew what the difference bw pies and tarts are. Thanks for clarifying.

  71. I will never get sick of a lemon tart! This looks beautiful, I love the look of that crust. :)

  72. I am not the biggest lemon fan but I must say, looking at this tart is telling me, I would like it.

    You might want to stop by. I have a cookward giveaway.


  73. I love anything lemon actually. Your lemon tart looks so perfect!

  74. That tart looks absolutely mouth watering. Love lemon everything!

  75. Wonderful! I love lemony desserts.

  76. I would take this over a chocolate dessert ANY day!

  77. A beautiful looking tart indeed....I also have my first forkful from the back of the slice, there is something to be said for a fabulous crust

  78. Wanda: Let me know how it turns out!

    msmeanie: It's a good explanation.

    Valerina: Thanks!

    Sweet and Savory: Nice giveaway!

    Anh and Alel: Me too!

    Natashya: Anything lemon will do!

    Aimee: Ditto!

    Camilla: Crusts are the best part of a tart! They've got to be good.

  79. I am a tart fan as well... and lemon is always good with me! I love that you go straight for the crust. I tend to save it for last since that is my favourite part, but I never thought to make sure it actually tastes good first! :)

  80. We love lemon desserts so I know this will be hit at our house, so it's bookmarked!

  81. This looks so good! Can I have a slice?

  82. I love lemon desserts! That looks delicious,Barbara!

  83. Cheri: I have always had a thing for flaky crust. Think it comes from having a grandmother who owned a bakery!

    Lynda: My lemon file is thicker than all my other dessert files!

    Claire: Sorry, all gone!

    Erica: Me too!

  84. Lemon tarte is one of my favorite deserts , your seems délicious
    have a nice week end

  85. Oh, Barbara, this looks so good. I LOVELOVELOVE lemon tart. I think I'd even choose a good lemon tart over a chocolate one!

    LOL about starting to eat from the crust. For me, it depends on what the filling is--if it's lemon, I'm starting at the point in case I get full--I don't want to leave any of the filling!

    Thanks for this recipe.

  86. I odnt think I want to be friends with someone who doesnt like Lemon Tarts!

  87. I mentioned in an earlier comment that we weren't crazy about chocolate. Well, here what I didn't say...we love, Love, LOVE citrus especially lemon-y desserts! I have tons of lemons to use up. I'm printing this out.

    Btw, will you be sharing your sister's Lemon Angel Pie? (Please!) Sounds delish, too!

  88. Maybe you've already addressed this, but I think there's an omission in the ingredient list. The filling instructions say to whisk together the eggs and the yolks, but the ingredient list just mentions yolks.
    Could you clarify what's missing?

  89. Orlee:
    Good catch! After 90 some comments, it's amazing nobody else caught this! It's 3 large eggs AND 3 large egg yolks.



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