Lemon Cream Tart

Lemon Cream Tart is a buttery, flakey crust filled with a luscious and tangy lemon cream filling.  This tart is sure to brighten anybody’s day!

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This luscious, Lemon Cream Tart was the tart that I made at cooking school last week for Exam Day.  Maybe you read my post on Cooking School Week 14?  Well, I was judged on this tart, as well as my other dishes, and the fruits of my labor were well-rewarded as I was able to take the tart home to enjoy it.  After a long, exhausting day, this tart was my bright spot — like the sun coming out on a rainy day, or a full moon in the dark of night, or my stainless steel appliances after the fingerprints are wiped clean.  Yup…that bright. 🙂

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Speaking of sunlight, I was so happy there was enough left when I got home from school so I could photograph this little gem.  If you’re a lemon lover, I think it’s plain to see how lemony this is.  Can’t you taste it just by looking at it?  The filling is like a lemon curd, only cream is added and it’s baked in the tart shell until it’s just a bit “wobbly” or just set.  My instructor said that this tart didn’t need a garnish, and while she was right, I can never, ever have a pie or tart without whipped cream or ice cream or something.  Are you with me on that?  I thought so. 😉

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The pastry dough comes together quickly and easily — don’t let the long instructions fool you.  Just chill the dough for 30 minutes before rolling, then chill it 30 minutes after you line it in the tart pan.  Chilling the dough before baking results in the flakiest of crusts, because keeping that butter nice and cold is what it’s all about.  Fraisaging the dough, or smearing it up the counter after mixing in the water, also ensures a beautifully flakey crust.  If you’re really on the ball, you can make your dough well before you need it and freeze it.  That would be ideal, because the next time life hands you lemons, you’ll be well prepared to make this Lemon Cream Tart. 🙂

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Lemon Cream Tart
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Lemon Cream Tart is a buttery, flakey crust filled with a luscious and tangy lemon cream filling. This tart is sure to brighten anybody's day!
Serves: 8-10 servings
Pastry Crust:
  • 1⅔ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼" cubes
  • 7-9 tablespoons ice water
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, strained
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • ½ cup heavy cream
Prepare the crust:
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the cubes of butter with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Sprinkle 7 tablespoons of the ice water around the outer edges of the flour mixture, and stir it with a knife until it just starts to come together. If the dough is dry, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of ice water. At this point, you should still see large bits of butter. Pour the dough out onto the counter and fraisage the dough, or smear it 6" up the counter with the palm of your hand bit by bit. This creates long streaks of butter, which will result in a flakier crust! Using a bench scraper, mound the dough back together and scrape up any dough stuck to the counter, and flatten into a disk. Wrap in waxed paper and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator and have your 8" tart pan with removable bottom nearby. Roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface into a circle that's larger than the tart pan, about 10 inches in diameter. Fold the dough over the rolling pin, place in the tart tin centering as well as possible, and unroll. Lift the edges of the dough and gently push it down into the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim the dough from the top by rolling the rolling pin over it or cutting it flush with the top of the pan with the bench scraper. Press the dough evenly all the way around the top gently making sure that some of the crust come up over the top about ⅛ of an inch as it will shrink during baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and place in the refrigerator and chill 30 more minutes.
  3. Once the crust has chilled, line it with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, beans or lentils for blind baking. Bake the crust for 35 minutes. Remove the pie weights, and bake the crust for 15 more minutes, or until the crust is dry and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Prepare the filling:
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and cream until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, about 8-12 minutes. If not using right away, place in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. The custard can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 5 days, but must be brought to room temperature before baking.
  2. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Pour the lemon cream into the prepared crust and spread until smooth. Bake until firm but slightly wobbly in the center, about 20 -25 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes, and refrigerate about 30 minutes until the tart is completely firm. Enjoy!
Total time above includes the inactive time of chilling the dough twice, cooling the tart, and chilling the tart.

Pie crust can be made ahead and frozen.

Lemon filling can be made up to 5 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container with plastic wrap over the surface to prevent a skin from forming.

Recipe adapted from Tante Marie Cooking School, San Francisco, CA..