whole lemon tart

whole lemon tart

The hubs and I hosted a Coding and Board games Saturday at our house the other weekend – yes, only in Silicon Valley do such things happen. The hubs did the coding part and I did the cooking part. I wanted to make a lemon tart as I had just acquired a bunch of lemons from a friend who has 2 lemon trees in her backyard. This recipe from Smitten Kitchen seemed simple enough. Best part is I didn’t need to squeeze any lemon juice but rather just throw the whole lemon into the food processor (seeds removed of course).

However, the crust didn’t seem to work out very well for me. Maybe I didn’t chill it enough or was too enthusiastic about using up all the bits of dough leftovers – the crust turned out too thick and not too tasty (in my opinion). It was also a little hard to work with. The filling was very simple to put together but wasn’t lemony enough for my liking and way too eggy for the hubs. On the other hand, I think only the hubs and I didn’t enjoy this tart because it was heartily eaten up by our friends. I guess this is just another case of – food okay but not what I was looking for. I dismiss many “good” recipes because they aren’t what I was looking for. As such, here is the recipe regardless of how I feel about it because it is a “good” recipe and will be enjoyed by some, just not me and the hubs. At the same time, the search for the tart lemon tart will continue…

a slice of lemon tart

Whole Lemon Tart

(taken from Smitten Kitchen; click here)


For the tart shell:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg

For the tart filling:

  • 1 average-sized lemon (about 4 1/2 ounces; 130 grams), rinsed and dried
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
  • 1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (14 grams) cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt


To make the tart shell:

  1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to mix. Put in the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. Add in the yolk slowly, pulsing at the same time. After all the egg is added, pulse in 10 second increments till dough is in clumps and curds.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and lightly knead the dough till everything is incorporated. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for about 2 hours.
  3. To roll out the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out the dough and line tart pan. Trim off excess and pierce crust with fork to prevent the bottom from bubbling. You also just press the dough as evenly as possible in the tart pan.
  4. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes.
  5. To bake the crust: Preheat the oven to 375° F. Place oven rack in the center. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the crust and fill center of crust with baking weights or beans. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. To fully bake the crust, remove the baking weights/beans and bake the crust about 10 minutes longer until it is firm and golden brown.
  7. Once crust is fully baked, remove from pan after cooling for about 5 minutes and place on rack.

To make the tart and filling:

  1. Preheat the oven 350°F (165°C). Oven rack should be in the center. Place the tart shell on a baking sheet.
  2. Slice the lemon into thin wheels and remove any seeds along with way. Combine the lemon, sugar and chunks of butter into the container of a food processor. Process, scraping down the sides of the container as needed, until the lemon is thoroughly pureed. Add the eggs, cornstarch and salt and pulse until the batter is smooth.
  3. Pour into prepared tart shell. Be careful not to overfill your tart.
  4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the filling is set (filling should jiggle a little).
  5. Let cool on rack, unmold tart pan and serve. Tart can also be served chilled.

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