A traditional French-style lemon tart with creamy, dreamy lemon curd filling, that tastes just like the ones in Paris. It’s my mom’s recipe and has been a favorite in my family for years.
1¼ cups (180 g/6.3 oz) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick/115 g) cold butter, cut into small cubes
½ cup (55 g/2 oz) powdered sugar (or ¼ cup granulated sugar)
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
Lemon Curd Filling:
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks (or 3 whole eggs)
3/4 cup (150 g/5.3 oz) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup (120 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons for both zest and juice)
2 tablespoons heavy cream, optional
1/2 cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Process flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor for a few seconds until combined. If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this by using a pastry cutter. Add butter and pulse until mixture becomes crumbly and resembles coarse meal, about 15 pulses. Add egg and vanilla extract and keep pulsing until the dough is no longer dry and starts to clump together, about 10-15 seconds. Do not process to the point that a large ball of dough is formed; rather the dough should be quite crumbly with large clumps. Another way to check if it’s done is to take a piece of dough and press it between your thumbs – the dough should stick without feeling dry or crumbly.
Turn dough to a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. It should come together easily without being sticky. Flatten ball slightly with your hands to form a thick disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
If you don’t want to use the dough right away, you can refrigerate it for up to 3 days, or freeze it for up to a month and then thaw overnight in the fridge.
To roll out the dough: Take dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly for easy rolling. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into an 11-inch circle, then place gently into a 9-inch tart pan (preferably with a removable bottom); you can do this by flouring a rolling pan and rolling the dough loosely around it, then unrolling it into the pan. Brush away any excess flour on the surface. With a sharp knife, trim the edges of the pastry to fit the tart pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes. Frozen dough is less prone to shrinking while baking.
To bake the crust: Preheat oven to 375F/190C and place rack in the center.
Press parchment paper or aluminum foil tightly against the crust, covering the edges to prevent them from burning. Fill with pie weights/dried beans/uncooked rice, making sure they’re fully distributed over the entire surface.
Bake crust for 20 minutes, until foil no longer sticks to the dough. Transfer crust to a wire rack and remove weights and foil.
To partially bake the crust: Bake for 5 minutes longer. You’ll now need to proceed with your tart recipe, add the filling, and finish baking. According to your recipe, the crust should be used either while warm or after it’s been left to cool on a wire rack.
To fully bake the crust: Bake for about 10 minutes longer until golden brown and dry. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Lemon Curd Filling:
To make the lemon curd: In a medium heatproof bowl, place eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and heavy cream and whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (bain-marie). Cook on moderate heat, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes thick (mine was ready in 10 minutes, but it can take up to 20). If you have a thermometer, it should register 170°F/75°C; otherwise, it should coat the back of a wooden spoon and leave a clear pass if you run your finger through it. The curd will thicken more once cooled.
Remove from heat and immediately strain mixture through a sieve. Add butter, a few cubes at a time, and whisk until completely melted and incorporated, and mixture is smooth. Take your time with it—the whisking makes for an airy and light texture. Allow to cool to room temperature before filling the tart. (Lemon curd can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or can be frozen for up to 2 months. To thaw, place overnight in the fridge. Whisk the mixture to smoothen it before using.)
Fill the tart shell with lemon curd, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours until chilled. Serve with berries and whipped cream if you like. The tart is rich, so cut your servings small.