The Washington Post

Whole Lemon Tart

Whole Lemon Tart 8.000

Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jan 29, 2021

Using the whole lemon in a lemon tart, instead of lemon curd, was an idea editor Olga Massov first encountered in Dorie Greenspan’s book “Paris Sweets.” Greenspan learned it from Rollet-Pradier, a patisserie in Paris. Instead of making curd, you puree a whole lemon with other filling ingredients and bake — a faster and easier process.

Here, the process is streamlined further, resulting in an even easier and more lemony tart. Lemon zest in the crust adds flavor, and using a whole egg instead of just a yolk allows for easier rolling out. The filling incorporates cold butter and eggs, less sugar and more lemon for a brighter pucker.

Active time: 1 hour ; Total time: 2 hours 10 mins (plus at least 2 hours’ chilling time)

Make Ahead: The tart dough can be made, tightly wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months. If freezing, wrap in foil after wrapping in plastic to prevent freezer burn. The tart shell can be par baked up to 12 hours in advance.

Storage Notes: The lemon tart can be stored at a cool room temperature for up to 1 day or covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8 servings; makes one 9-inch tart

  • For the crust
  • 1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (40 grams) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 stick (115 grams/4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg, cold
  • For the filling
  • 1 large lemon (about 160 grams)
  • 1 large zested lemon (about 160 grams), from the crust above, white pith removed, sliced and seeded
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 stick (115 grams/4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold is fine
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons (24 grams) cornstarch
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for serving


Make the crust: In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, zest and salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until a coarse meal forms, about 12 pulses. Add the egg and pulse just until the dough comes together in large clumps, 20 to 25 pulses or so. (Pay attention to the sound the motor makes; it should change right around this point.) Pinch the dough — it should hold together. Press the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

When ready to roll out the dough, place it between two large sheets of parchment paper and roll out to about 12 inches in diameter and 3/8-inch thick. Line a 9- to 9 1/2-inch tart pan with the dough. The dough will be very soft and may start to tear; that's okay, just patch it up. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. As you press the dough against the sides of the pan, also gently press the overhang with your fingertips against the edge of the pan — it should break off easily. Dock the crust on the bottom and sides with a fork — this helps prevent the tart from puffing up. Freeze for 1 hour before par-baking.

When ready to bake, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Place the tart pan on a large, rimmed baking sheet and cover the dough with aluminum foil, gently pressing the foil to fit snugly over the bottom and edges of the shell. Fill with pie weights (or rice, beans or pennies).

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the dough no longer appears raw, then carefully peel away the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the crust slightly pulls away from the edges of the pan and the edges of the crust are light golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight before filling.

Make the lemon filling and tart: Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 325 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place the tart crust on top.

Cut the unzested lemon in half: If the pith is thinner than 1/4 inch, slice the lemon and discard the seeds (otherwise, see NOTE). Transfer the lemon to the food processor bowl, and add the zested lemon slices, sugar and salt. Process until smooth, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the butter, and process until smooth, scraping the bowl as needed.

With the processor motor running, add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the yolk, and process until smooth. Add the cornstarch and process to incorporate. Remove the bowl from the processor and gently tap it on the counter a few times — this will remove some of the air bubbles — and pour the filling into the crust. The filling may look curdled; that’s okay. (Using a food processor results in a mostly smooth filling with tiny bits of lemon, which add some zing. If you prefer a smooth filling, use a blender to process.)

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the filling looks set; it may jiggle a little in the center. (Don’t worry if the top cracks.) Insert a toothpick or cake tester in the center of the filling — it should come out clean. If not, bake for an additional 5 minutes and check again. Transfer the tart to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature before serving, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just before serving, gently pop out the tart out of the pan and transfer it to a plate. Dust the top of the tart with confectioners’ sugar, slice and serve.

NOTE: If the pith of the lemon is thicker than 1/4 inch, finely grate the lemon zest and transfer it to the bowl of a food processor. Trim the tops and bottoms of the lemons and stand them upright. Using a paring knife, follow the curves of the lemons to trim away the pith. (Thick pith may make your filling bitter.) Cut the fruit into slices and discard the seeds. Transfer the lemon flesh to the food processor bowl and proceed with the recipe.

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Recipe Source

From food writer Olga Massov.

Tested by Olga Massov.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 479

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 25g 38%

Saturated Fat: 15g 75%

Cholesterol: 153mg 51%

Sodium: 177mg 7%

Total Carbohydrates: 60g 20%

Dietary Fiber: 2g 8%

Sugar: 37g

Protein: 5g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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