Whole-Lemon Tart

Whole-Lemon Tart

My grail is a simple dessert that both satisfies and surprises. This tart, adapted from a recipe that was originally given to me by Jean-Marie Desfontaines of the Paris patisserie Rollet Pradier, has all that I look for in a dessert. The filling is the surprise — it’s made with every part of the lemon except the seeds, and so its flavor is exuberantly full. It’s also easy to make — it all happens in the food processor. It bakes to a creaminess that teeters between custard and pudding. Alone, it’s interesting, but with the sweet crust (think butter cookie), it’s deeply satisfying. To get every lick of flavor and the best texture out of the crust, don’t roll it too thin and make sure to bake it well — you want the color to be truly golden brown.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 8 persons



  1. Step 1

    Center a rack in the oven, and heat it to 325 degrees. Place the crust on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Step 2

    Cut the lemon into thin slices, and discard the seeds. Toss the slices and sugar into the bowl of a food processor, and whir for 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed, until smooth. With the machine running, add the eggs, one at a time, and then, when they’re incorporated, the cornstarch followed by the melted butter. Remove the bowl, and rap it against the counter a few times to pop some of the bubbles in the mixture. Pour the batter into the crust.
  3. Step 3

    Bake the tart for 45 to 55 minutes, until the filling is puffed and lightly browned — don’t be concerned if the top cracks. If you tap the side of the pan, the filling should seem firm; if it jiggles just the least bit in the center, that’s fine. A toothpick poked into the center — be gentle — will come out clean. Transfer the tart on the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Leave until it reaches room temperature. The tart can be served now or chilled (it will keep in the refrigerator overnight).
  4. Step 4

    Just before serving, dust the top with confectioners’ sugar.