Lazy Mary's Improved Lemon Tart

By • March 10, 2011 • 32 Comments

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Author Notes: Fear of crust making has led me to take the coward's way out...premade dough from grocery stores and bakeries! Then, I found an old recipe written in my Great Aunt Evie's (gone for 40+ years) handwriting. I gave it a try and have since become a "born again" crust maker. For this recipe, I added lemon zest to the dough to give an additional bite of fresh Meyer lemon to the tart. As to the filling; I am as lazy as ever! - dymnynodymnyno

Food52 Review: Why improve on perfection? I wondered when I saw that Mary had tweaked her Meyer lemon tart. I'm an expert on this recipe, having prepared it about half a dozen times since it was first posted. I have to agree though with her revisions, adding the zest to the crust only further enhances the lemon flavor. I served it at a lunch party and it was all eaten before I could snap a photo. I still use less sugar than the original recipe and used 2 lemons as my Meyers were a bit small. I zested the lemons with my rasp. Thumbs Up!Lizthechef

Serves 8

Fancy Crust

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups(12 ounces) cold butter, cut into slices
  • 1 whole egg
  • 6 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon, I used a box grater

Lazy Mary's Tart Filling

  • 1 large Meyer lemon cut into pieces (1 1/2 - 1/3/4 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cup superfine white sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Mix flour, butter, egg, cold water, vinegar and salt together with a heavy fork. Or, use a food processor with a large bowl. Don't bother to totally break down the butter.
  2. Since this recipe makes enough for two crusts, divide the dough and form into two disks. Add the lemon zest to the lemon tart dough and wrap and save the rest.
  3. Place the dough in the middle of the tart pan and spread it out and up the sides of the tart pan with your fingers. (Use a tart pan with a removable bottom.)
  4. Blind bake the tart shell for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
  5. Remove the tart shell from the oven and pour in the filling . Return to the oven and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes. Check to see if the filling is set and the top is turning golden.
Jump to Comments (32)

Tags: Meyer lemon, pie crust, quick, sweet, tart

Comments (32) Questions (4)


7 months ago Wendall

Thanks so much! We get lots of tart mandarin type fruit here..(they have green skins and never go orange)
I wonder if mixing some of that with lemon juice would replicate the flavour? What I need, of course, is an American to come over and taste test!


7 months ago dymnyno

I wish I could say that I am on my way!!!


8 months ago dymnyno

Most would describe the Meyer as a hybrid between a lemon and a mandarin or regular orange. It is more lemon than orange, but is a milder sweeter lemon. I think that others have used a "regular" lemon for the recipe. I would remove as much of the bitter pith as possible, however.


8 months ago Wendall

Please help a poor colonial.... What is the difference between an ordinary lemon and a Meyer lemon?
I live in Malaysia (having moved from the UK) and was very excited to discover our normal limes are your Key Limes, which I'd always longed to try. Now I need Meyer lemons, but they're not for sale anywhere. What can I do, or use instead?


about 1 year ago Jenn

I made this tart with a meyer lemon cookie crust. Just about 2 cups of crushed Meyer Lemon cookie thins and 1 stick of butter. Blend together, then press into tart pan and bake in a 375 degree oven for 5-10 min. Let cool, add the lemon filling and bake the tart. It is outright delicious this way!


over 1 year ago judyst

what size tart pan? can I make this a day in advance or is it better to make the same day as we re going to eat it?


over 1 year ago gardenchickens

I just tasted why this recipe get raves. I used a 4-ounce fruit, apparently a good choice, a tad smaller than a tennis ball. This recipe is a keeper and a repeater, as well as a good reason to take special care of that young "Improved Meyer Lemon" tree.


over 1 year ago gardenchickens

My Meyer lemon tree is finally producing (hooray!) so I need to pick just the right fruits for this recipe. Most fruits are more than an ounce and a half; should I be sizing in pounds? I don't really know what a large lemon compares to. Thanks!


about 2 years ago kstallbe

Thanks for sharing this! I've made it a bunch of times (albeit with Paule Caillat's crust), and they've asked for the recipe each time. I really don't think there is a better compliment than that!


over 2 years ago rrcooks

I have made this quite a few times now and it's a sure-fire winner. Thinking of tinkering with the pastry a bit - I found that the butter leaked out. But otherwise - so easy and so delicious!


over 2 years ago Bevi

I made the tart yesterday - so delicious and the perfect balance of tart and sweet.


over 2 years ago Angela T. Macleod

What do you do with the lemon mixture??


over 2 years ago DJ Comuzio

I made this yesterday. It was delicious, but really oozing butter from the finished tart. I had to cook it almost an hour to get the middle set and it was still a bit gooey. Wondering if anyone else had this problem. Anyway, I love the uniqueness and simplicity of this recipe, the idea of using the whole lemon, the rustic appearance, everything. Thank you !


almost 3 years ago Tess28

I've made the lemon tart twice now. Love the result. I had to make some substitutions. I used 1 cup sugar and a regular lemon from which I removed almost all of the white pith, though I did keep the lemon zest for the filling (as well as lemon zest from another lemon for the crust). Love it! But I do feel a bit concerned about the amount of butter. It smells wonderful baking and tastes wonderful, but I'm wondering how much less we could use and still have it be spectacular. BTW, please excuse the previous 2 posts made in my name by my youngest daughter while my back was turned. : )


almost 3 years ago dymnyno

If the amount of butter is a worry, just use your own favorite crust recipe that doesn't use so much butter. The "improved" crust was my great aunts' recipe . She was a dairy daughter who couldn't get enough butter!


almost 3 years ago Tess28

*i mean is there anything i could do to have the butter in the crust not melt


almost 3 years ago Tess28

there is a lot of butter in this, the butter in the crust was literately melting but i followed the recipe


about 3 years ago Muffinj

Have loved the original recipe
Cannot wait to try the crust - looks deeeeevine


over 3 years ago Dawn Stiles

Just made this for the first time and am SO excited to share it with friends!


over 3 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

I made this today, and it was much loved--just like everyone else has said.. I couldn't believe the amount of butter, but it worked! My lemons were also small, so I used about one and a half.

One thing I'd suggest would be to repeat your instructions from the original recipe about how to combine the tart filling. I don't know why I didn't look at that original, but I didn't. The good news is that pouring everything into the food processor, already a little messy from making the crust, worked just fine.


over 3 years ago dymnyno

Lots of butter....hide it frm Larry! My great aunt,who raised my orphan father, loved to bake. My blog confession is true...I never used to make my own crust! Martha doesn't know what she is missing! May be my last food52submission.


over 3 years ago Lizthechef

Don't be silly - he can have a small slice. Heart to Mare.


over 3 years ago Lizthechef

Hey. I get to test this over the weekend. I assume you mean "1 and 1/2 sticks of butter, yes? Just noticed you and both added white vinegar to our crusts in our recipes - great minds think alike ;)


over 3 years ago dymnyno

Liz, I just noticed the cups vs sticks really is 1 1/2 cups!


over 3 years ago TiggyBee

The zest is brilliant... Not to mention what a lovely photograph of the recipe card!! I'm sure this tart is amazing!


over 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh, Mary, this is so great. I love the photo--can't believe what good condition the card is in. I love this tart--the last time I made it we were on a family vacation in a rented beach house so i did use frozen pie crust--and I love your idea of putting zest into the crust. Really great recipe--made even better!


over 3 years ago dymnyno

Thanks! The zest definitely adds a little zing! My mother kept all her recipes in a photo album to protect them. Notice there is no directions...all her recipes are like that!


over 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Who would have thought this was improvable?!! But, love the lemon zest addition!


over 3 years ago Sagegreen

Wasn't sure you could improve on this one! I love using vinegar in pie crust. Great recipe.


over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

When I saw this I thought "how can you improve on perfection?" LOVE the idea of zest in the crust!


over 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I love the original and will definitely try your crust! I've been searching for an excuse to make your tart again. I'm assuming that we still just pop all the tart filling ingredients into a blender until smooth?


over 3 years ago Lizthechef

Oh, yeah! Zest in the crust, my new recipe. Thumbs up!