Tarte au Citron (that’s Lemon Tart to you and me!)

Tarte au Citron recipe, or lemon tart. Sharp lemon aroma and flavour in a homemade sweet pastry case.
tarte au citron
tarte au citron

Tarte au Citron is definitely a favourite in our house, never lasting more than a day, the sharp lemon scent and flavour combines extremely well with the sweet pastry.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Make Ahead Dessert

Tarte au Citron is a great party dessert because you can happily make it the day before. And guess what? It freezes well too. Open freeze the lemon tart, then wrap securely with foil and place back in the freezer. Let it thaw at room temperature for about 2 hours before serving.

Tarte Au Citron Recipe

It’s not difficult to make but it is a little time consuming; only because of the chilling time for the pastry. Afraid of pastry? Don’t be! There is no magic formula or secret to pastry making – it’s all a conspiracy by pastry chefs to make you think it’s more difficult than it actually is!

The pastry for our tarte au citron is a sweet, soft, crumbly shortcrust, known as pate sucrée, so, you’ll want to handle it gently.

You’ll find the method I employ here is completely different from anything you might see elsewhere. For starters, I don’t use cold butter. This was how I learnt to make shortcrust pastry as a little girl (8 years of age) in my granny’s kitchen.

It’s how I make the very traditional Pineapple Tarts from Singapore and Malaysia (on my other food blog).

It’s funny really. I learnt to make pastry professionally in London, but there are some old habits that I still can’t shake off!

Pineapple Tarts on little stands
Pineapple Tarts

Be liberal with the flour or icing sugar on your work surface and here’s a tip for the top of the pastry. Place some cling film on the surface of the pastry as you roll it out, don’t worry it’ll lose its clinginess very quickly because of the butter. This will help give the crumbly pastry a smooth surface and keep its integrity by not having too much flour added to it.

Lemon Tart Filling

The filling here is the sort you’ll find in a standard tarte au citron.

When you mix the lemon juice to the egg and cream custard base, the texture will change and thicken slightly, don’t panic, it’s supposed to. This change is called souring, basically, the lemon juice is curdling the custard base.

Another version of lemon tart is actually cooking the egg and cream mix to produce a proper custard, adding butter and then filling the case.

Shall we get our aprons on?

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Tarte au Citron (Lemon Tart)

Tarte au Citron recipe, or lemon tart. Sharp lemon aroma and flavour in a homemade sweet pastry case.
5 from 26 votes
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: lemon tart, tarte au citron
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 449kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor

Ingredients

Sweet crust pastry

  • 120 g salted butter at room temperature
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 1 egg lightly beaten, for glazing
  • 250 g plain flour

Filling

  • 5 large free range eggs
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 125 ml double cream (heavy/whipping cream)
  • 200 ml lemon juice ( about 4 – 5 lemons, does depend on the size of the lemons)
  • zest of 1 lemon optional

You’ll need a 9″/22cm loose bottomed tart tin

    Instructions

    The Pastry

    • With a wooden spoon, beat butter and icing sugar until slightly pale and creamy. This should only take about 2 minutes.
    • Beat in the egg for about a minute. You won't have a smooth mix, don't worry, we'll be adding the flour next.
      pineapple tarts
    • Add the flour and rub with fingertips till the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add water, 1 Tbsp at a time as needed and lightly bring it all together. Don't knead the pastry, just gently mix it to form a uniform ball of dough.
    • Flatten it, wrap in clingfilm, and chill for 30 mins.
    • Lightly flour a work surface, a chilled marble or granite slab would be perfect, to keep the pastry cold. Roll the pastry out to about 2-3 mm thickness.
      Shortcrust pastry
    • Lift the dough and place it in a 23cm (9 in) loose bottomed tart tin. This is easier done if you roll part of of the dough onto the rolling pin first and lift it up with the pin. Make sure the pastry is neatly tucked in all around. Long nails, be careful!
    • Cut off the overhanging pastry, leaving a slight hang for shrinkage if you want. Prick the pastry all over and chill again for 30 mins. I know this is time consuming but you can go off do stuff in that 30 mins, the result is so much better than shop bought, trust me!
    • Turn oven on to 180˚/375˚F and place a baking sheet on the middle shelf. This is to ensure the bottom of the pastry cooks evenly too. After 30 mins, line pastry with baking paper, fill with beans/rice (ceramic baking beans are perfect) and bake on the hot baking sheet for about 12-15 mins. You need to check this as all ovens are different.
    • Remove the baking paper and beans and bake for another 3 mins. Brush the pastry all over with the beaten egg yolk and bake again for 2 mins. This forms a seal and stops the bottom of the pastry getting soggy from the filling.
      pate sucree for tarte au citron
    • Leave to cool for at least half an hour before removing from the tin. Remember hot pastry is soft and will fall apart.

    The Filling

    • For the filling, turn oven up to190˚C/375˚F. This is the easy part!
    • Gently hand whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl (over whisking will result in too many bubbles/foam, you don’t want that).
    • Add the cream, whisk, then add the lemon juice. Some people like to add lemon zest but I don’t like bits in my tart!
    • Carefully pour the mix into the case and bake for about 20-25 mins. Serve at room temperature, dusted with icing sugar.

    Notes

    Total time does not include the hands off chilling time.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 449kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 176mg | Sodium: 161mg | Potassium: 121mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 784IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2mg
    Did you make this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!
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    15 thoughts on “Tarte au Citron (that’s Lemon Tart to you and me!)”

    1. Sharon Butler

      Looking forward to trying this at Christmas for the non Christmas pudding eaters. Can you tell me if the tart can be reheated after it has been frozen.

      1. Hi Sharon, I serve the tart at room temperature, whether it’s been frozen or not.
        If you’d like to reheat it, bring it out of the freezer 2 hours before, to thaw. Then reheat at the same temperature for 10 minutes. You don’t want it in the oven for too long as the filling will get runny and change its consistency.

    2. 5 stars
      Tastes just like Costa’s tart au citron. Yummy ! Bit of a time consuming recipe though, could I just buy a ready made sweet pastry case ? Was just wondering could I swap out the lemons for limes or maybe oranges ? Would it work the same

      1. Hi Ann, yes, you can definitely use a shop bought pastry case. If you can find an all-butter or mostly butter one, that would be best. Or, you could use a ready rolled shortcrust pastry, these ones are easy available in all butter.
        And yes, to the limes and oranges. Exact same recipe, same amount of juice.

    3. This looks superb. I have yet to try the pastry dough at home. Like the lemon flavored dessert give a nice clean feel

    4. I love those recipes that say “I’ve been making this for years!”. The juice of 5 lemons! Love it already. It’s hard to resist a cream and lemony dessert! Thanks for the encouragement on the pasty shell.I needed that. 🙂

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