Classic French Lemon Tart

Classic French lemon tart is the quintessential French tart, found at patisseries and cafes year-round. Cool, sharp lemon filling contrasts nicely with the flaky, slightly sweet pastry.

Yield: 1 Tart (8 to 10 Servings)

For the Pastry:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons butter (cold)
  • 3 tablespoons water (cold)

For the Lemon Filling:

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup crème fraiche (or sour cream)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest


Make the Pastry

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. Using a pastry cutter, large-tined fork, or a food processor on pulse setting, cut the chilled butter into the flour until it resembles coarse sand with a few pea-sized pieces of butter still visible.
  4. Sprinkle the cold water onto the mixture and toss gently a few times, just until it forms a ball that holds together.
  5. Separate the dough into two balls, flatten slightly into thick disk shapes, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for several hours before working with it.
  6. Preheat an oven to 375 F.
  7. Roll and trim the dough to make a circle large enough to fit a 10-inch fluted tart pan.
  8. Fit the circle into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
  9. Line the dough with parchment paper and add pie weights or dried beans.
  10. Bake it for 15 minutes.
  11. Remove the pie weights and bake the shell for an additional 5 minutes.
  12. Set aside the pastry shell and for the classic french lemon tart to cool.

Make the Lemon Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. In a double boiler or a medium-size saucepan, set a large pan of simmering water. In the top part of the double boiler, stir together 8 tablespoons butter and the crème fraiche. Once this mixture is thoroughly combined, set it aside.
  3. In a separate pan set over the double boiler, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar.
  4. Stir the lemon juice into the mixture and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the lemon zest and butter-crème fraiche mixture to the eggs and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
  6. Pour the lemon filling into the prepared pastry. 
  7. Bake it for 25 to 30 minutes until it turns golden brown and the filling is set.
  8. Allow the tart to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
  9. Serve at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator before serving.


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