Here’s how to make the most delicious lemon tart (tarte au citron) recipe. Prepared with a crunchy buttery breadcrumb crust and the zesty lemon flavor, this recipe is super easy to make and serves well with your favorite fruits and or cream topping.
The lemon tart is a popular dish and a variety of tarts that originates from France. The French label for this dish is tarte au citron.
The dish comprises two major parts, a pastry shell, and its lemon-flavored filling. In the United Kingdom, the method of making and filling the lemon tart is a bit different.
In this case, the lemon tart will comprise a pastry case that will be filled with baked lemon custard.
The pastry case is usually made from the fluted tart tin while the baked lemon custard is made from lemon juice, eggs, sugar, and cream.
It is important to mention that there are different variations of the lemon tart dish. The first variation is the lemon pie which looks a lot like the lemon tart.
It is usually served as a dessert and consists of lemon custard filling and a short crust pastry.
The lemon pie has a bottom pie crust, and this spells the major difference between it and the lemon meringue pie.
The lemon meringue pie is another variation of the lemon tart but this time, it has meringue on top.
How Did Lemon Tart Come About
While lemon tart has a rich and colorful history, many culinary experts and historians are not in agreement concerning the origin of the dish.
Many historians tried to trace the origin of the dish using its constituents, i.e. the lemon custard filling and the pastry crust.
The lemon custard made with eggs, lemon juice, cream, and sugar, was a popular dish in medieval Europe.
As far as the 12th century, eggs, sugar, and milk were readily available, thus, it is possible that the preparation of lemon custard started around this time.
However, there is solid evidence that points to the fact that lemon custard, which was known at the time, like lemon curd, was first prepared by Protestant Quakers in England in the 18th century.
This recipe was then said to have traveled to the North American continent in 1774 through one of the breakaway sects of the Quakers, known as the Shakers.
This recipe, known as the Shaker Lemon Pie recipe, is still very much around today, only that it has undergone certain modifications as to the early recipe.
The early recipe used finely shredded lemons and had no cream due to the financial state of the early settlers.
Other historical records allude to the fact that the first lemon tart recipe was created in 1806 by Elizabeth Goodwell.
The American cook who resided in Philadelphia at the time had a pastry shop where she organized cooking classes. It was in one of these cooking classes that she made what would later be her signatory dessert, a lemon custard-filled tart.
She was also credited with the discovery of lemon meringue. It was said that she used to use a lot of egg yolk for the custard. So one day, she decided to use some egg whites to make a meringue topping for the lemon pie, and that is how the lemon meringue pie was born.
This lemon tart made by Elizabeth Goodwell gained a lot of popularity in the US, especially after one of her former students, Eliza Leslie, incorporated the recipe for the lemon tart into a cookbook she wrote.
Finally, there is a class of culinary historians that attributed the discovery of lemon tart or the lemon meringue pie to Alexander Frehse, who was a Swiss pastry chef.
Our Ingredients To Make This Tart
There are many ingredients needed for this dish. The full recipe with the exact measurements is listed in the recipe card below. However, the following are some of the most important ones;
Lemon Tart Filling
After the crust, the lemon tart filling is the most important component of the lemon tart.
This filling looks a lot and uses almost the same ingredients as the lemon curd. However, certain differences help you distinguish one from the other.
The first difference is the addition of heavy cream in the lemon tart filling.
The use of heavy cream for lemon tart filling is optional, but it helps with the taste of the taste and richness of the filling.
The second difference is the amount of butter than goes into the filling.
As much as using a lot of butter in making the filling is optional, it is important to know that butter helps to mute the strong flavor of lemon in the filling.
Thus, depending on how much lemon flavor you want, you can either cut the quantity of butter used in half or increase it.
Butter also adds a thick and creamy texture to the tart and makes it taste a lot better.
This can go into making the tart crust depending on the crust you are making. Also, depending on the texture you want for the crust, you may have to choose between either granulated sugar or powdered sugar.
Granulated sugar gives you a crumbly crust while powdered sugar gives you a melt-in-the-mouth and tender crust.
As to the amount of sugar to use, it depends on how sweet you want your crust and tart to be. For this recipe we used the granulated sugar.
This ingredient goes into both the tart crust (if making from scratch) and the tart filling. With regards to the filling, the number of egg yolks used determines the thickness of the filling.
The more the egg yolks, the thicker, creamier, and yellower your filling will be. With regards to the tart crust, egg yolks also make the crust better.
Now, adding turmeric is not traditional in making French lemon tart, but if you are one who do not want to use a lot of egg yolks but want that beautiful golden color, then this is when turmeric comes into play.
How To Make the Candied Lemon
Your tart doesn’t end with just preparation. Dressing it will bring it to life. For this we are preparing candied lemons to top the tart. Here’s how to make it.
First, you’ll need the following ingredients:
In a small skillet over medium low to low heat, melt the butter.
Then add in the lemon slices and the sugar; reduce the heat to low to avoid burning. Then add in the ground cinnamon.
Mix well until completely coated and once the mixture starts to boil, remove it from the stove and set aside. Apply the candied lemon slices and desired fruits to the tart and refrigerate.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Yes, you absolutely can! You can make the lemon curd and the tart crust a few days in advanced. Both mixtures will keep well in the refrigerator.
Yes, the lemon tart will stay fresh in the fridge. Leaving it on the counter will cause your tart to spoil.
Freezing your lemon tart is optional but can be done! When freezing your tart, we recommend that you pre-slice your tart as it will make it easy for you to serve individually.
Tips for Making Lemon Tart
- Allow the lemon tart filling to chill for some time after preparation before serving. Failure to do this will give you a runny filling. We recommend that you let the tart chill for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Before transferring the tart to the refrigerator, be sure to let it cool for at least 15-20 minutes.
- If you are looking to add an interesting flavor, you can add basil leaves to the filling. Cook a few basils leaves with the ingredients for the filling and sieve out the leaves after cooking using a strainer. You will enjoy the infused basil flavor.
- You can enjoy the tart by trying different toppings on the tart. This includes whipped cream, meringue, and berries.
- Leave the tart in the tart pan when chilling. This will help the tart to keep its shape.
Storing The Tarte Au Citron
You can store the tarte au citron in the refrigerator for some days. All you need to do is ensure that it is stored in an airtight container.
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Easy Lemon Tart Recipe
- 1 Tart pan
- 1 Small Skillet
- 1 ½ Cup Breadcrumbs You can use either plain breadcrumbs or Graham Cracker crumbs
- ½ Cup Unsalted Butter
- 6 Large Eggs
- ½ Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
- Lemon Zest from 2 Lemons
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- ¼ Tsp. Kosher Salt
- ½ Tsp. Turmeric
- 4 Tbsp. Heavy Crean
- 4 Tsp. Corn Starch
- 2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
Candied Lemon Slices
- 6 Lemon Slices
- ½ Cup Light Brown Sugar Tightly Packed
- ½ Tsp. Cinnamon Powder
- 4 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.Line the tart pan base with parchment paper. Add the breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Then add the melted butter. Mix well to combine then pour the breadcrumbs mixture in the tart pan. Use your hands to spread the mixture around the tart pan then use a flat surface to mold the breadcrumbs mixture onto the pan. Bake for 10 minutes in a preheated oven at 350°F. When finish sit the crust aside to cool. In the meantime, prepare the filling by adding in 6 eggs to a bowl. Add the salt and vanilla extract, whisk well. Sit aside. In small bowl, add the cornstarch and creamer. Mix well until the corn starch has dissolved.
- In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tbsp. butter over low heat. While whisking to avoid burning, add egg mixture followed by the sugar, lemon juice as well as the corn starch mixture, and turmeric. Whisk vigorously until the egg mixture starts to form and starts to become thick. If the mixture starts to become too hot, remove it from the start as you do not want to “cook” the eggs. Pour the mixture onto the tart pan and bake it for an additional 10 minutes. While the tart is baking, in a small skillet, melt 4 tbsp. unsalted butter over medium low heat. Then add the cinnamon and sugar. Then add the lemon slices. Mix well to combine. Cook for about 5 minutes or until it starts to bubble. Allow the tart to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the candied lemon from the stove and top the tart with the lemon slices and desired fruits to the tart and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.