The Best Lemon Tart in the World

April 4, 2014

I MADE THIS LEMON TART TODAY, and can tell you it looks, tastes and smells like a gorgeous spring day. In other words, it’s obscenely delicious. And get this — it’s easy to make! The step-by-step recipe:

Note: You will need a baked, 9-inch-diameter crust in which to pour the lemon filling. And that means Pate Brisee Sucree. You’ll find my easy, detailed directions for making and baking this gorgeous French pastry in this post.

Grab a clean, medium-size (4.5 oz) lemon…

And slice it into 1/4-inch rounds.

Use your fingers to remove the seeds.

Throw the lemon slices into the food processor.

Then add 1 1/2 cups of granulated cane sugar…

And 1 stick (4 oz) of diced, unsalted butter.

Turn the machine on, and thoroughly puree the works.

Now add 4 large eggs and 1 egg yolk. The extra yolk will contribute a lovely, luminous color to the filling.

And speaking of eggs…let me know if you’d like to raise hens in your own backyard.

And if you already do raise hens in your own backyard, let me know if your flock is easy to manage.  I’d also like to know how many eggs you receive, and from how many hens.

I hope you’ll forgive me for being so nosy.

Back to the filling: Add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch…

And a pinch (1/4 teaspoon) of kosher salt.

Puree until smooth — about 15 seconds.

Now set your tart shell on a baking sheet…

Place the tart shell (in its pan) on a baking sheet, and pour in the lemony lusciousness.

Bake on the center rack of a preheated 350°F oven until the filling is set –35-40 minutes.  If the filling barely jiggles when you shake the pan, you’ll know the tart is done.

Let the tart cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Then unmold, and let cool to room temperature.

Tip: If you are not going to serve the tart on the same day you made it, just cover and refrigerate it for a day or two.

For an elegant presentation, place the tart on a pedestal cake stand, and dust the top with confectioners’ sugar.

Easy, right?

I hope you’re ready to taste this thing.

Oh, baby. This isn’t a lemon tart. It’s a lovely, luscious, lively, luxurious, lyrical lemon tart.

Do me proud and make this poetry, okay?

Here’s a printer-friendly, copy-and-paste version of the above recipe:

The Best Lemon Tart in the World
An old French recipe, adapted by Kevin Lee Jacobs (www.kevinleejacobs.com)
Ingredients for one 9-inch diameter tart
1 medium lemon (approx. 4 1/2 oz), washed
1 1/2 cups granulated cane sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, diced
4 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pre-baked, 9-inch diameter Pate Brisee Sucree tart shell (recipe here)

Place oven rack at the middle position; preheat the oven to 350°F

1. Cut the lemon into 1/4-inch slices. Use your clean fingers to pluck out seeds.

2. Put the lemon slices, sugar and diced butter in the bowl of a food processor. Process until pureed — about 10 seconds.

3. Remove the lid from the processor; add the whole eggs and the egg yolk, plus the cornstarch and salt. Replace the lid and whir until a smooth puree is achieved — about 15 seconds.

4. Set the tart shell on a baking sheet. Pour the lemon puree into the shell, and bake until the filling is set — 35-40 minutes. The tart is done when the filling barely shivers after shaking the pan.

Let cool on a wire rack. When cooled to room temperature, unmold onto a cake stand or platter, and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Storage: When completely cool, the tart may be covered and refrigerated for at least 2 days.

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Other mind-blowing posts you might enjoy:
Ham, Kale & Swiss Cheese Tart
Fougasse aux Herbes de Provence
The Easy Kitchen Garden

Comments

  1. Brenda Johnson says:

    Oh how sweet it is…. and lemony…. and buttery… SO good!!! Fresh lemon is the perfect flavor for the arrival of spring (finally!) Everything about this- the color, the texture – the fabulous taste- is just divine! Try it! You’ll like it- I promise!!!! (Thanks for sharing Kevin!!!)

  2. Brenda – Thanks so much for taste-testing. I’m hooked on this tart!

  3. Dawn says:

    This looks so yummy but being a diabetic my Dr. would shoot me if I made/ate this ;-(
    However, I did copy the recipe just in case I decide to cheat sometime in the future – you never know – LOL ;-) ps – your sous chef needs to cut back on the taste testing ;-)

  4. KimH says:

    OMG.. looks & sounds like heaven!

  5. Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says:

    I long for backyard chickens. I think it’s in my blood. I was born on a chicken farm in Bucks County PA and lived there till I was 5. My current township does allow backyard chickens if one respects the prescribed distances from other property lines but I fear Jasmine the Wonder Dog would not allow them in her “territory”. Good luck with your plans for chickens. I wonder if you’ll have one of those rolling coop-houses that you can reposition daily?

    That lemon tart seems unique in that it takes all parts of the lemon, even the normally bitter white pith under the yellow skin. Its radiant “glow” makes my mouth water. The phrase “an old French recipe” conjures up all sorts of classic images. You’ve topped yourself again!

  6. Eliza J says:

    Those pictures really, truly, made my mouth water ~ funny how just picture something lemon will do that…That looks really good. Maybe this will be the Easter dessert for this year. Thanks Kevin

  7. Anne says:

    After reading this recipe, I’m definitely purchasing a food processor!!!!!! I love lemon and can taste this just from reading the recipe.

    PS My Meyer lemon tree is in full bloom with a heavenly scent surrounding my porch!!!!!

  8. Fran says:

    Kevin, is this very tart? I made my first lemon tart a few months ago – it was wonderful but toooooo tart. It used 2 TB zest and 1 cup of lemon juice. I like it but did not “love” it. Would want more of a softer lemon pie taste. Thanks.

  9. Janet says:

    Hi Kevin! I currently have 22 hens and one rooster. I didn’t need a rooster as I don’t plan to hatch any babies, but I just love to hear “Brooster” crow in the mornings! In addition, he keeps watch over his “girls” by warning them when a predator is flying over! I gather between 15 to 22 big, beautiful brown eggs daily. There is nothing like a fresh egg. The taste is unbelievable! We allow our chickens to roam in the day, but we put them up at night. They control the bug population as well as clean out from under our pine trees! Chickens are very social animals if you handle them when the are young. If you would like more information, check out the website http://www.fresheggsdaily.com. Lisa Steele gives all the information you could want on raising backyard chickens! As for your Lemon Tart, I will certainly be making one this week!

  10. Hi Fran – The lemon filling you made with 1 cup of lemon juice must have been achingly tart. The version above is neither too tart nor too sweet. It’s just perfect in every way.

    Hi Janet – Like Beverly in comment #5, I soooooo want chickens! Thanks for the encouragement!

  11. Katie Zack says:

    Kevin this looks wonderful, I will make this today!! And also for Easter! I have been keeping chickens for 40 years and during the winter I hate, hate, hate having to buy eggs. There is no comparison. Hens are most productive during their first 18-24 months and after that production drops. Commercial operations cull these birds at this point. I keep mine til they drop, they have worked hard for me and I think they deserve a good long life:) Where you live you would need a good draft free coop for winter and forget chickens in the garden if you expect to keep it, they will destroy it! But if you build a nice big run they will be content.

  12. Barbara Zakrzewski says:

    After reading this lucious recipe, I will definitely have to save up to buy a food processor so I can make it.

  13. Cathy says:

    Thank you, Kevin. I love anything with lemon. I will definitely be trying this along with your pate brisee sucree tart shell.

  14. Diane R. says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Don’t cringe, but can I use a pre-made pie crust instead of making my own? I would think so, but thought I should get your opinion on this.

  15. Raylene says:

    Looks luscious! I currently raise 12 hens and 2 roosters. The roosters aren’t necessary, they just happened to be roosters instead of hens. Daily feed and water with coop cleaning about four times a year. I get 8-12 eggs per day year round. My production is that high in the winter because I light and heat the coop. That’s my choice, but there is a lot of controversy regarding that in the chicken keeping world. I love my girlies and we are currently building them a chicken palace. Warm regards, Raylene

  16. Dori says:

    My next door neighbor has 3 beautiful hens. He sits in the sun with all three ladies in his lap. He hand feeds them, peels the shell off sunflower seeds. They keep down the weeds and bugs and slugs. They LOVE sowbugs. And they LOVE him. When he is in the house they are up against the window with their noses pressed against the glass.

  17. susan says:

    Two years ago in March, we bought 12 Australorp chicks b/c they are typically cold-hardy and good layers. One turned out to be a rooster, so we harvested 8-11 eggs every 25 hours beginning in August. On the ground is the only way to maintain hens, IMHO, b/c they scatter everything. Inside, that is an unholy and wasteful mess. Outside, it is a blessing, b/c while they scatter, they scratch up the dirt and eat any unwary bugs and worms. When the hens go through a molt, their egg-laying clock seems to reset, but their productivity eventually wanes. We backfilled with 4 Buff Orpingtons and 4 Silver-laced Wyandottes this year to keep up production. If everyone raised chickens, there would be world peace. You will find that you can sit with a glass of tea and spend countless hours watching your flock’s antics. Chicken gazing lowers blood pressure and raises endorphins. If you live in a neighborhood, you may want to provide seating for guests. You may find that your chickens become a magnet as the neighbors discover that they destress as they sit and watch these amusing creatures. An African missionary found that chickens thrive on the addition of propolis and leftover aloe peels from making your own aloe drink. Both improve the immune system without increasing bacterial resistance, so poultry feed laced with antibiotics becomes redundant. Enjoy!

  18. Wendy Borders says:

    Hi Kevin- I think it’s time I asked for a tart pan for Mother’s Day so I can try this tart. The kids can have some too- fair payback! I have 7 hens in my backyard, between the ages of 4 and 1. I usually get 4 eggs per day. During the winter I have a red light on in the coop from 4am to sunrise; this gives the chickens about 14 hours of light per day and they never totally stopped laying- I got about 3 eggs per day. The light is red because they are less likely to pick at each other- my coop is pretty small for 7 hens, It’s built on one pallet, actually looks a bit like a short outhouse LOL Look into the “deep litter method” of coop management, I recommend it.

  19. Rita Weiss says:

    Hi I’m a friend of Robert and David,

    Just as an FYI…Regard raising chickens, my uncle overseas had a chicken farm and one thing he did mention is that chickens only produce eggs for approximately 6 years but they live for about 10 years, so unless you are willing to part with the birds you will have to factor in the cost of feed for an additional 4 years of their retirement as part of your overall expenses.

  20. Rita Weiss says:

    PS regarding the lemon tart, do you have any recipe for a flour free crust, maybe one that uses marizpan/almond paste for the crust? Thanks

  21. Judy says:

    Am going to make this! I already have the tart pan and rarely use it. Now I will. Thx much for another terrific yummy recipe.

  22. Suzanne K says:

    I don’t have chickens at this point. I did many years ago and occasionally toy with the idea. I did manage to get on another email list that you might find educational and enjoyable – website is:
    http://www.communitychickens.com

    I’d love to hear your stories if you add the chickens to your life.

  23. Mary J. says:

    My mouth is watering!! I can’t wait to try this!!
    Many thanks for all the wonderful recipes and tips!

  24. Hawaii_Lynette says:

    Aloha Kevin!
    I LOVE lemon meringues pie and love lemons so I’m sure I will LOVE your lemon tart. When can you deliver? In person. In exchange I’ll be your private tour driver for around an island tour.
    Lynette

  25. Elizabeth says:

    I vote YES for chickens. We started in May 2013 with 8 mixed pullets. The expense is in infrastructure and predator protection. If you are looking at chickens as a financial equation, buy your eggs. If you value being amused by hours of chicken TV and charmed by sweet hen voices and silly little ways, Go For It. We currently are getting 6 or 7 eggs most days, far more than we can use. Results vary by season, weather, and conditions.

  26. Maureen P. says:

    You’ve got some good stuff on here today, a lemon tart and a garden tour – I’m in heaven. As to the chickens, don’t have any now as we are in our 70′s but had for many years back in CA. Had about 18, got anywhere from 15 to 18 eggs a day. We had coyotes so had to have them in a shelter. My husband built it and you walked into the laying room with the nester boxes and perches for them to sleep on. Then they had a door so they could go out into their play area which was coyote proof but they could scratch and enjoy the weather. We had everything tall enough for us to walk in. My neighbors here have them locked in at night, but they are free to roam an area where all the fruit trees are. Remember that white chickens lay white eggs and the brown lay the brown. I’m not fond of having a rooster because sometime they want to come at you when you walk in to collect eggs. Just protecting their flock, but I’ve had to kick them more than once. The larger ones like Rhode Island Red cost you a little more to feed than say a smaller one. But those and the Barred Rock were definitely my favorite hens. I think it is definitely worth it to have them and especially if they are free to scratch and eat bugs. They love veggie scraps too. And for the feeder we had the type that hangs and it holds lots of feed and is gradually dispensed to the area at the bottom where they peck from. Got it at a local feed store.

  27. Michi says:

    Dear Kevin,
    I’m a relatively new reader to your blog, and I’m loving it. In addition to the wonderful, inspiring content, I appreciate that you aren’t focused on selling products like so many other gardening blogs these days. thank you!

    Question: do you think it would work to make your sugar cookie tartlets, but with the filling for this lemon tart instead? The tart filling sounds incredible what with the whole lemon and all, but I also wanted to make little bite sized ones for a party… Thanks in advance for your guidance! Xo Michi

  28. Carole says:

    We have seven chickens, three who are in their second year, and four that are not quite 1 year old. We’ve been getting 5 to 6 eggs per day this past month. We supplement their layer feed with vegetable/grain scraps from the kitchen (basically anything we wouldn’t want to eat, like wilted lettuce and carrot peelings/ends, but stuff that’s rotten we put in the compost bin directly). Chicken poop makes great garden fertilizer as long as you don’t feed them meat products (can introduce harmful bacteria unless thoroughly composted first). Some people make “chicken tractors” and move their flock down the rows between plants to let them defoliate it instead of cultivating. Or, you can move them around to different places on the lawn during the day and they will debug it without making it bare. They are particularly helpful under fruit trees to control bugs without chemicals. We also have bees and don’t want to use insecticides.

  29. Mary Anne says:

    Your site is right up my alley today. Two of my favorite things….lemons and cats! My 18 year cat has just hit the “snub food phase” and the many posts have given me many new avenues to explore. Raffi cat……help is on the way!
    Kevin, you site is a delight and soooooo well thought through!
    Thank you.

  30. Terry says:

    I have a flock of Silkie chickens. 15 hens, 1 rooster. They are bantams, meaning small. Their eggs are a bit smaller, too. 3 eggs = 2 large regular.
    Silkie chickens are GORGEOUS! Imagine a walking feather boa. Look them up, they are good ‘starter’ chickens for the beginner. They are super docile and not as aggressive as regular chickens, and believe me, chickens can be very aggressive.
    A Silkie will lay 3-4 eggs a week instead of every day. 15 hens x 3 times a week is still 45 eggs a week. THAT’s plenty for me!
    Silkies will ‘go broody’ which means that they will sit on and hatch their own eggs, most chickens don’t.
    I love my chickens. Once you get them established, there is very minor daily work. But you will need a chicken-sitter if you go on vacation. Something to consider.

  31. Amanda Wiersma says:

    Lemon bars are my all time fave desert, and this looks right up my alley! I have 9 chickens currently, but had 25 at one time. If you are only looking for personal use eggs, check out the coop that gets put above a raised bed, or a tractor set up. There are tons of cute little cottagey ones you would love too! You don’t want to turn them loose in your garden, because if it is green (or a plant) they will eat it. My first 5 ate an actual holly bush in 2 days! They are so much fun to watch, but will require water and food in the middle of winter, and eventually stop laying eggs, so have a plan for that… I have one that is 4 and still lays 5 a week after a winter break, and will jump and get treats from your hand. Or, not meant to be treats, from the kids hands. Ha!! Oh, and FYI, I just did my after winter mucking and I forcefully shoveled 5 very heavy wheelbarrow fullls of straw/crap today. It wasnt at all fun, but I will have a very happy garden soon :)

  32. Cathy says:

    Kevin-I love lemon, and this is a great recipe. I was working on a house project when I made it so was somewhat distracted, and forgot to put in the cornstarch. I debated taking it out of the oven and trying to scoop out the filling and add it, but decided that maybe 4 eggs would thicken it like a custard, and they did – it turned out fine and firm without the cornstarch

  33. Michi – Because it is cooked separately, lemon curd is the best choice for the sugar cookie tartlets.

    Cathy – Thanks for trying the tart. So glad it worked out for you sans cornstarch.

  34. Teal says:

    I love lemon so thanks for this recipe. I am always looking for ways to use our Meyer Lemons. I am surprised to see a recipe that uses the pith too. Interesting.

    I want backyard chickens too. My husband and I have been reading and studying about them for over a year and I thought we might get some this year but not yet. My DH said since we more than doubled the size of our garden this year he doesn’t have the energy to build a coop right now. Maybe next year. I have good reports from friends who have chickens that Buff Orpingtons and Rhode Island Reds are the best layers for them. Good luck!

  35. Maricela Infante says:

    sure looks good!

  36. Louise says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I tried this and it turned out bitter! What did I do wrong?
    Thanks,
    Louise

  37. Chris Thiessen says:

    I made this tart yesterday and it is amazing! Looks beautiful and the taste is out of this world! It tastes just as good if not better today. So easy to make and it looks like it came from the bakery.

  38. tracey says:

    Hi Kevin – re: chickens. I managed to buy a Rhode island red (look them up on blogs) Charlotte was the best chicken ever! They are very friendly, large, lay huge eggs and follow you around and can be picked up without chasing them! I do find silkies are a problem in SW France as they dont actually have a full coat of feathers, just fluff, so they are rain intolerant and heat intolerant, so you need the correct climate for them. We get lots of rain here, freezing winters and very hot summers – so silkies are always dodging a bullet! Saying that, I have just bought 4 black silkies, but they are hard work. They don’t fly very well, just sort of jump, so you can have a lower fence/enclosure for them. Kevin – Rhode Island Red that is they way to go..best chickens ever, apparently a rooster actually killed a fox attacking the pen – they would be massive! I am searching for another one in France – sadly Charlotte died last week. I wouldn’t worry about the extra years to feed them after laying, when you have chickens, they die for all sorts of reasons over the years and in general last about 6 years – my 6 year old is still laying 5 eggs per week. Give them all your scraps apart from meat/citrus and potato skins and you will love them, they only lay a pellet, so very easy to clean or scoop the poo, break down the poo with water in a bucket and leave a few days, then use as a brilliant fertilizer – it is too strong to use direct on soil. I love the sound of a rooster too in the mornings – heaven! I have lots of great photos that will send you running to get your coop stated, let me know if you would like to see them! Tracey

  39. Mary Downing says:

    I have chickens and love them too. Four hens and a rooster, I usually get 3 eggs a day and that is plenty. The food is cheap so keep them forever (they love scratch feed for a daily treat). They are too funny to watch. As folks have said don’t let them run free as there are too many predators and they will dig up all your flower beds in search of bugs. Any problems with them consult backyard chickens.com.

  40. Laura says:

    Loved your lemon tart. Regarding chickens, White leghorns are good layers but are not interested in sitting on them. Our Ginni-hens did the job very well.

  41. Tracy says:

    Hello Kevin, I hope you are going to get a few hens!! I love my girls and they are all spoiled rotten but provide us with many eggs. I call all the white leghorns ANN or Miss Ann as that way if I lose a favorite I don’t notice as much. White leghorns are great producers. I have one barred rock and also two Rhode Island RED HENS. I think I could get plenty of eggs with three nice hens but I feed them to my dogs and they love eggs with rice so I keep about seven hens. My daughter in law is going to have 13 and is selling a lot of eggs so her grain bill is paid:) I like to get a few pullets about two years apart so that my production stays the same but I usually have 6 eggs daily from my seven hens. I have not purchased eggs in the five years I have had them!!

    I cant wait to serve the tart Easter. Have a happy!!

  42. Sara says:

    I just made the lemon tart for my 13 year old son who loves everything with lemon. It was delicious. Thanks for sharing. I don’t have any chicks but have thought of getting some, I have four dogs and so have my hands full at the moment, one day though.

  43. Teresa Williams says:

    This lemon tart was delicious! So easy! I would recommend it just as a pudding without the pie shell if you want fewer calories. Thank you so much- 2nd comment today!

  44. Paula says:

    Kevin, we have chickens but unless you can find a way to confine them, they will make a mess of your garden. They love going into cultivated beds, taking dirt baths, and spraying dirt and mulch all over the place. I love fresh eggs, and love to see our girls roaming the farmyard, but we only let them out end of day now. They were just creating too much of a mess.

  45. PattyM says:

    Wonder if this can be made with limes?

  46. Karen Hermansen says:

    Just took the tart shell out of the oven and am waiting for it to cool so I can fill it with the luscious ( I had to sneak a taste) filling. This will be do-over for sure.

  47. Karen Hermansen says:

    Years ago I had 23 Rhode Island Reds and at their peak I was getting 18 to 24 eggs daily. I sold them through a nearby convenience store and gave lots away also. Wish I could have them now. After they grew out of the hatchling stage, they got antibiotic- free feed along with what they could scratch up and veggie scraps. Loved my “ladies”.

  48. Lynda says:

    I MUST make this tart! And I raise hens in my backyard. Currently I have 8 (4 full size hens and 4 very cute Bantams) and raised them all from chicks. I get between 4-6 eggs per day. The little Bantams are prolific layers! Even if I didn’t get the eggs I would still love them all. I just lost my favorite little Bantam “Raven” to illness and cried for 3 days.

  49. Maggie says:

    Kevin my friend Pat in Springfield Missouri prepared this tart for us. I have to say if it isn’t really the best Lemon Tart in the world the better one must be “OUT of this world”! The tart is plenty sweet, is not bitter or over-lemony even with the whole lemon. And just enough creamy deliciousness to keep the mouth watering between bites. The only problem we found was resisting licking the plate.

  50. Helen says:

    Kevin, I made your lemon tart for dinner tonight. It was wonderful. I have never used an entire lemon in a recipe before, but the flavor was so fresh and somehow much crisper taste than pies I have made using just the juice and zest.
    I also love the way you photograph every step, so that I feel as if I am right there in the kitchen with you.
    Thanks for a great recipe, and my new favorite website.

  51. Jamie Shafer says:

    Kevin – I have to buy a tart pan before I make your lemon tart. What one do you recommend – tin or aluminum – quick release finish or plain metal – and what brand? I tend to google what I want and then order on line, since chasing down the perfect pan can be time consuming not to mention frustrating. Your recommendation would be most appreciated!

    Thanks -
    Jamie

  52. andrea says:

    Loved that lemon tart—used Meyer lemons and it was greattttt—looking forward to the strawberry!!

  53. This tart looks lovely! I am defintely going to try it. Everything is better with fresh eggs and I higly recommend raising chickens!

    Lisa
    Fresh Eggs Daily

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