tarte au citron – lemon tart

The lemon tart : my favorite dessert. It’s one of those staples of french patisseries that I used to seek out every time I went back to France. The main reason for my constant search of lemon tart being that it is really hard to find a good lemon tart in the US. No offense but the lemon bars just aren’t the same thing. Now, that having been said, after 10 years in San Francisco, I’ve figured out a few places, starting with La Boulange and a number of restaurants which, on occasion, will serve good and sometimes delicious lemon tarts.

When Mary and I first started dating she lend me this cooking book written by Pascal Rigo of La Boulange: The American Boulangerie. I never returned the book and Mary was forced to move in to be reunited with the book… she claims there were other reasons but I know that deep down, this was it. ;-)

In this book, I found a Lemon Tart recipe, of course, I was terribly excited to try it out and try it out I did, over and over again. The recipe works, it’s very good but I have since modified it a bit. I like Rigo’s lemon cream but I wanted something a little more bitter, something a little more lemony and the version I’m presenting to you today is just that, a more acidic, more lemony version of Rigo’s lemon cream.

- 1 pre-baked tart shell (pate sablée) — yes, I’ll post my favorite recipe for it soon
- 200g sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup of lemon just (about 120ml or 120g)
- 1/2 cup of heavy cream (about 120ml or 120g)
- zest of one lemon (it all depends on the size of the lemon, I’d say one large to very large tablespoon)


Preheat the oven at 330F (160-165C).

Prep all the ingredients and zest the lemon:

Make sure to chop the zest really fine to avoid having large bits in the tart, something like this:

Measure, weight and mix all the ingredients into a bowl then whisk them all together until everything is incorporated.

The most important part is to mix the eggs very well so as to avoid making an omelet later.

Once it’s mixed, pour the mixture into a heavy bottom pan and cook on medium heat while constantly stirring with a heat resistant spatula. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pot as your stir. After a few minutes (depending how high the heat it could take 5-10 minutes) the mixture will start to thicken. When it is thick enough to coat to the spatula, take it off the heat and continue stirring for a couple of minutes.

Then, you can pour the thickened mixture into the tart shell.

Do your best to put a smooth layer throughout the entire tart shell. Ideally you should poke any bubble that surfaces with a little toothpick.

Then bake at 330F (160-165C) until completely set (25 to 35 minutes depending how much you cooked the custard earlier). If you gently tap the baking sheet it should barely wiggle.

Let the tart cool for a few hours (you can put it in the fridge after it’s cooled down a bit) before eating.

Bon appétit! :-)