To kick off summer: a recipe for bitter lemon cake

French major
To kick off summer: A quick recipe for lemon pie

A slice of lemon cake is cut out

With a wonderfully fresh and tangy taste, this lemon tart evokes spring fever

© Bartosz Luczak / Getty Images

Spring is officially in the starting blocks. While the crocuses are blooming outside, a wonderful fresh lemon tart gets us in the mood for the season. With just seven ingredients, you can make this French specialty yourself without much effort. Recipe.

It’s hard to imagine French pastry without it: lemon cake or a little more original – tarte au citron. It’s no wonder that the batter, with its intense lemon yellow color, is an eye-catcher at every cake buffet. Especially in spring and summer, the French specialty provides a good mood on the plate. The subtle sparkling aroma of the fruity and sour lemon cream combined with the delightfully crunchy shortcrust pastry base gives a taste of holiday and sunshine.

There are countless recipes for a good lemon cake. The French, in particular, disagree on how to make it, debating whether to use meringue or meringue, a sweet or sour note, whether the cream should be encased in a pastry such as baked or lemon curd. In the UK, North America and Australia, lemon tart is best eaten with a meringue topping – known there as lemon meringue pie.

The secret to a good lemon cake

A classic French pastry usually consists of two components: a pastry shell made of thin pastry – also known as “pate sucrée”, which means something like sugar pastry – and “cremeux au citron”, a buttercream with fresh lemon. The thin pastry dough is first blind baked without cream. To prevent the base of the dough from collapsing or forming air bubbles during baking, it should be covered with baking paper and sprinkled with dry beans before baking.

A custard filling is either (also) baked in a pastry shell as a type of custard, or made from butter as an unbaked filling. While the custard is made in a few labor-intensive steps in the traditional preparation method, the filling in this recipe relies on only four ingredients and is never made. Eggs and sugar are mixed directly in the pot, which not only saves time, but also saves washing dishes. Lemon peel and juice give the next filling its unique aroma. After everything is heated a little, the main cream should cool down a little. This is important to maintain the consistency and binding of the cream while adding the butter. Never cook the butter directly in the base cream, the individual fat components will separate and significantly change the consistency and flavor.

Good things take time

After the lemon cream is spread over the pastry base, the tarte au citron should rest in the refrigerator for at least two hours. By the way, the French swear by letting the tart stand overnight because that’s the only way to develop its full aroma. However, for better or worse, it depends on how long you can resist the delicious look of the cake. Fruit pie is served with freshly whipped cream. Alternatively, you can sprinkle powdered sugar on the dough. Good appetite.

Recipe for fresh lemon cake


  • 150 grams of wheat flour, type 405
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 150 grams of butter
  • 3 organic eggs
  • 140 grams of sugar
  • 3 organic lemons
  • 100 grams of whipped cream
  • ½ packet of vanilla sugar

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  1. Knead the flour with a pinch of salt and 75 grams of butter with your hands. Add four tablespoons of cold water and knead a smooth dough. Wrap it in cling film and leave it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F/F. Grease and flour a cake pan (about 26 cm diameter).
  3. Roll out the dough on a floured work surface into a circle with a diameter of about 30 centimeters. Carefully place in the prepared tart pan and press until the entire pan is covered with batter, including the rim.
  4. Line the pie base with baking paper and bread crumbs and pre-bake in a hot oven on the lower rack for about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the parchment paper and breadcrumbs and bake for another 15 minutes until golden.
  6. Mix the eggs and sugar together in a saucepan.
  7. Wash and dry the lemons. Grate the peels, squeeze out the juice and add to both the egg and sugar mixture. mix. Bring everything to a boil and allow to cool slightly.
  8. Chop and add 75 grams of butter, mix everything. Heat slowly and cook for two minutes, stirring, until the cream thickens.
  9. Place and smooth the lemon cream over the pastry base and chill the cake in the fridge for at least two hours.
  10. Before serving, whip the cream with a pinch of salt and vanilla sugar until stiff and divide into dots over the cooled cake. Alternatively, sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar.

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