Tarte au citron: Lemon Tart Recipe

lemon tart 1

I’m happy to say that I finally got rid of the two eggs yolks in my freezer. They were packed together in plastic, then again in foil…and of course, quickly forgotten as over the course of the next few months, got pushed further and further back into the morass that is otherwise know as mon congélateur.

The other morning I woke up, and when I went to get an ice cube for my orange juice (one of my perks–I absolutely have to have an ice cube in my morning jus d’orange), everything came tumbling out. Long-forgotten flax seeds from a batch of seriously-healthy scones I’d planned to make, to six 2-cup containers of egg whites, plus a mysterious little foil-wrapped packet whose name had been scraped off after months of being away by jagged crystals of frost. It was like watching the last six months of baking projects crossing in front of my eyes, with a few things landing near my feet.

tart shell

So there I was, at 7:04 am, defrosting my freezer in my jammies, reliving my not-so-distant past, taking everything out, and scraping out massive amounts of ice for the next hour or so.

In the freezer were two frozen baked tart shells from making Paule’s pastry dough, so I let one thaw and decided to make a tart. After all, making the dough is half the battle. And I’d had enough fighting for one morning; the rest was easy.

Later at the market, I found these lovely unsprayed lemons, which I used to make a quick lemon curd. After I squeezed their juices out (one had remarkably adept aim, btw—right in the old œil gauche), I cooked the juice on the stovetop with lots of the fragrant zest, not too much sugar, those long-forgotten yolks, and poured the warm filling into the gloriously-ready tart shell.


Because the filling is quite tart, it makes a modest layer of filling, rather than a big pile o’ curd. Which, come to think of it, doesn’t sound so appetizing, does it? I prefer that, because I don’t like overly-rich desserts and you can confidently eat a wedge of tart and not feel bad about it afterward. (It’s the simplest way to cut the calories of a dessert in half; just eat a portion half the size. Simple, non?)

One could pipe whipped cream on it or top it with meringue, although I wanted to keep it pure and bought some seemingly just-picked raspberries to strew over the top. Unfortunately, they were so good, they didn’t make it to the finish and the tart, nor my guests, ever saw a single berry. Gulp!

So I killed two birds with one stone: I got rid of those two yolks once and for all, and used up one of the two tart shells in the freezer. Now I just need to figure out what I’m going to do with all that empty space in my freezer. But I’m sure it won’t last long.
In fact…

lemon tart

Lemon Tart

One 9-inch (23 cm) tart

This makes a modest, but very tasty lemony layer. If you want more filling, feel free to double the recipe; any filling that you don’t use can be spread on toast, fresh biscuits, or scones.

You could substitute fresh lime juice for the lemon and if you have Meyer lemons, reduce the sugar to 1/3 cup (65g). You can use a favorite tart dough recipe, or the one I’ve linked to.

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • grated zest of one lemon, preferably unsprayed
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) butter, salted or unsalted, cut into bits
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • One pre-baked 9-inch (23 cm) tart shell

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C.)

1. In a medium-sized non-reactive saucepan, heat the lemon juice, zest, sugar, and butter. Have a mesh strainer nearby.

2. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs and the yolks.

3. When the butter is melted, whisk some of the warm lemon mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly, to warm them. Scrape the warmed eggs back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and almost begins to bubble around the edges.

4. Pour the lemon curd though a strainer directly into the pre-baked tart shell, scraping with a rubber spatula to press it through.

5. Smooth the top of the tart and pop it in the oven for five minutes, just to set the curd.

6. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing and serving.

Related Links:

Recipes to Use Up Leftover Egg Whites

Lemon Verbena Ice Cream

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

Tips for Freezing Eggs

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