Tarte au citron

Tarte Au Citron

There are two things I rarely dare to bake – tarts and bread. The main reason being that they are the recipes most likely to leave me in a pool of tears! I adore a lemon tart, the citrus sharpness cutting through the sweetness. I’ve tried half a dozen different recipes and it’s always the pastry that’s tripped me up. Either too crumbly, or too sticky or just impossible to work with. I’ve made this recipe twice now and on the first occasion I was a little heavy-handed with the pastry which resulted in it being too crumbly when cut into slices. I tried again today and paid real care and attention not to overwork the mixture, stopping the blitzing the moment it looked like it had nearly come together and kneading and rolling gently and only as much as absolutely necessary. The result was absolute perfection! They say that cake and pastry making is an exact science and if this recipe has taught me anything it’s that, if you take the time and effort, it really is worth it. This is probably the best lemon tart I’ve ever had, but then I would say that!

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  •  8¾ ounces / 250g plain flour
  • 2½ ounces / 75g icing sugar
  • 4¼ ounces / 120g cold, unsalted butter, diced
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons of cold milk
  •  6 lemons
  • 4 large eggs plus 4 large egg yolks
  • 8¾ ounces / 250g caster sugar
  • 5¼ fluid ounces / 150ml double cream
  • lemon zest and icing sugar to decorate


To make the pastry, put the flour, icing sugar and butter into a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the egg yolks and the milk and blitz again until it starts coming together into a ball.  Stop the moment it comes together as you don’t want to overwork it.

Place onto a lightly floured surface, knead lightly into a ball and then flatten, still paying care not to overwork.

Roll out the pastry thinly and line a 24cm / 9½ inches loose-based tart tin, cutting off any excess. Use a ball of the excess to push the pastry carefully into the edges.

Prick the base with a fork (but don’t go right through the pastry to the tin), line with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 160°C / 320°F (140°C / 284°F fan).

Grate the zest of 3 of the lemons and squeeze their juice into a measuring jug.  Juice the remaining lemons until you have a total of around 190-200ml (about 7 fluid ounces) of juice.  Keep some of the zest of the spare lemons aside for decoration.

Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and caster sugar in a bowl until combined, then add the lemon zest and juice and stir.

Add the double cream and whisk until well combined.  Leave to rest in the fridge while you continue with the pastry.

Place the pastry tin on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the baking parchment and baking beans and bake for another 20 minutes.

Lower the oven temperature to 150°C / 302°F (130°C / 266°F fan).

Remove the filling from the fridge, give it another good whisk and pour into the tart case.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the filling is just set.  It should still have a slight wobble.

Allow to cool completely before removing from the case, dusting with icing sugar and decorating with some lemon zest.


The city of Menton is the lemon capital of France. Located between the Maritime Alps and the Mediterranean Sea, it is the only place in France where lemons are grown on an industrial scale. Menton has always depended on lemons for its economy and every year holds a colourful lemon festival involving floats creatively decorated with citrus fruits and fireworks. And not just for one day! The festival lasts for two whole weeks each February.

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About The Naughty Cook 297 Articles
The Naughty Cook is a digital cookery magazine packed with both healthy and indulgent recipes and is owned by Senlac Hill Publishing, UK.

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