Super Citrus French Lemon Tart Recipe

Updated on January 3, 2020
RyanCThomas profile image

Ryan Thomas is a university student who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.

The finished product!
The finished product!

The first thing which one should be aware of concerning this recipe is that the note of it being "citrus" is not an exaggeration. This is a really fascinating and interesting, unique, recipe, which produces an extremely tart, perhaps even sour, product. It is sweet too of course, but still extremely tart and sour. Reactions to this will be diverse: those who like sour and tart products will adore this, those who do not will be unable to stomach it. Make it as your own taste preferences imply!

That being said, the essentials of this recipe produce for a quite splendid, tasty, elegant, and excellent tart. Composed of a sweet, soft, pastry pie crust, spread over with lemon curd, and then that itself covered with candied lemon sections, it certainly claims its status as unique from other lemon desserts. How many lemon desserts, after all, utilize the actual lemon sections in them? This is one of the first which I have seen! Compare it to another French lemon recipe, one which is intoxicating in its sweetness rather than aggressive in its citrus taste. Combine this with candied zest, and some powdered sugar, and the product is a very lemony, even shockingly lemony, tart, with intense bursts of flavor which can almost overwhelm the tastes in eating it. Accompanied by the sweetness of its sugar, the combination produces a dessert that will be adored by anybody who loves truly very, very, intense lemon recipes.

This recipe is adapted from Simply French by Patricia Wells. I have made a variety of modifications, and I recommend getting the (excellent) cookbook to see the original.

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  • 12 lemons, (of which 3 are juiced and zested, 1 is zested and fruit reserved, and 8 are peeled and candied)
  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup rosé wine
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tbs confectioner's sugar, plus some to powder it
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons whipping cream


  1. The first step in making the lemon tart is making the crust. I have adopted the crust from another recipe I made for lemon tarts, Decadent French Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe, and linked it above. Either allow 6 tablespoons of butter to warm appreciably or microwave it briefly, then work it into 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, creating a crumbly dough. Afterwards combine 4 tablespoons of heavy cream with it, making a smooth dough.
  2. Either roll the dough out between two sheets of waxed paper so that it becomes a flat plane, and then fit it over a 9-inch pie dish, or work it directly into the pie. Flute the edges after that is done, and then cover with aluminum foil, and cook for 10 minutes at 350 degrees f in an oven, then remove the aluminum foil and cook another 10 minutes.
  3. Following this, making the lemon cream filling mixture is to be followed. Combine the juice from 3 lemons (with these lemons having been zested previously), with 1 cup granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons butter (cut into pieces) and the grated zest of 1 lemon. Bring these ingredients to a boil, whisking constantly, until it is smooth after 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in 4 eggs, doing so until it is smooth. Return to heat at a low simmer for 10 more minutes, until the mixture grows thick. Then remove and refrigerate until its use in later steps.
  4. The candied zest is next prepared. Combine cold water and the zest of 3 lemons in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and then drain the zest in a strainer.
  5. Place 1/2 cup of some sort of sweet rosé wine in a small saucepan, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Maintain it until it reduces to roughly half of the previous level/ Combine the blanched lemon zest with this, and when it returns to a boil through low heat, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until the zest is heavily red. Then drain thoroughly: I would advise laying it out on a sheet to dry, and perhaps putting it into the oven for a bit to ensure that it is fully dry and separate.
  6. Peel the 8 lemons, and slice the remaining zested lemons into wedges. I found that the easiest way to peel the lemons was to cut off both ends, run a slit down one side, and then peel it apart and then cut and separate out the wedges; zested lemons will be harder. Remove any seeds which are easily seen, but the remainder can be removed once the lemons are candied.
  7. To make the syrup, combine 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1 cup water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil through high heat and continue to heat until it becomes a syrup, around 5 minutes. Add in the lemons and cook them in the syrup at a gentle boil for 5 minutes for each batch. Then remove, ensuring that they do not fall apart. Place them on a rack or other appropriate place to dry. If you do not like lemons in their almost-raw state, consider leaving them in the sugar bath for a significantly longer period of time.
  8. Bring forth once more the lemon cream and spread a layer of it over the tart shell. Remove any seeds which are visible from the candied lemon sections, and then proceed to layer them over the tart in a decorative fashion. Sprinkle it with the candied zest. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Place the tart into the oven for 15 minutes, which will hopefully be enough to cook the lemon enough to mellow it. Once it is cooled, dust with confectioner's sugar, and serve at room temperature.
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© 2018 Ryan Thomas


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    • Shirl Urso-Farmer profile image

      Shirley Urso-Farmer 

      2 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks for the advice, I do like a 'sweet lemony' taste... I think I'll tinker with the cooking time a little to get it just right :)

    • RyanCThomas profile imageAUTHOR

      Ryan Thomas 

      2 years ago from Eureka, California

      Thanks! It is quite potent, I advise being careful about the lemons - if you like a really pungent lemon recipe, it should be fine, but if you like sweeter flavors with it, longer cooking times might be needed to mellow the sharpness.

    • Shirl Urso-Farmer profile image

      Shirley Urso-Farmer 

      2 years ago from Michigan

      This sounds fantastic! One of my favorite flavors is lemon, but it's not something that you find everyday at the grocery store like strawberry this or raspberry that. Thanks so much for the recipe, I'm going to give it a try this spring!


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