Lemon Tart – the best ever… (now with pics)

One of the best puddings there is, the richness of the custard, cut through with lemon on crisp pastry with a sugar crust on top. Oh and one extra thin layer of the darkest chocolate adding to the taste.

The key to this is the eggs for setting the cream filling and this is a key lesson for every cook.

The importance of eggs

If you are interested then Harold McGee is the master of the science behind why eggs set milk and creams. McGee on Food and Cooking (an encyclopedia of kitchen science, history and culture) is the definitive book to explain it all. It is hard going but worth it if you really want to know what is going on. In case you can’t be bothered however, here are the following tips:

  • The egg white helps to set the custard, give it firmness and make it glossier
  • The egg yolks add richness and produce a softer and creamier mixture
  • If you want a set custard you can cut through you generally need some egg white.
  • If you are making a crème brulee in a ramekin then you can just use egg yolk as it doesn’t need turning out.
  • Milk needs more eggs to set as it contains more water and dilutes the egg more.



  • Set custard for turning out – 1 pint of double cream to 2 egg yolks and two whole eggs
  • Custard for setting in a brulee – 6 egg yolks to 1 pint of double cream
  • Pouring custard – 6 egg yolks to 1 pint of milk


One tart case – 20cm diameter


Pastry – makes enough for two tarts

I pack of butter (250g)

I small bag of plain flour (500g)

Just under half a small bag of sugar (220g)

2 Eggs

1tsp vanilla essence or vanilla paste (see favourite ingredients)

Pastry Lining and topping

50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)

1 tbsp of caster sugar

Lemon filling

6 Lemons – Juice of all and zest of 2

2/3rd pint of double cream, 2 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs

2/3rd cup of caster sugar

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Start by making the pastry, Pastry – Short and Sweet, and baking it blind. All of the ingredients and tips are on the link, so just click through. You may even have some frozen and ready to go from the last time you made it.

So at this stage you should have crisp blind baked tart case. Let the case cool and melt the chocolate. Paint the melted chocolate onto the base. Let it cool. Make the custard. Zest two of the lemons and juice them all. Mix the sugar, lemon and eggs together. Add the cream and mix well. Put the blind case in the oven and carefully pour in the custard right to the top. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door to let the custard cool gently. Once cool let it set in the fridge until properly cold. Just before you  are ready to serve, evenly sprinkle the caster sugar on the top. Get a blow torch and melt the sugar to form a crisp, thin caramel crust.

It is done.

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