A Rainy Day Tart with Backyard Lemons

Lemon tart lemon pair

It’s been overcast and foggy and the let’s-stay-in-with-some-tea sort of weather. The best part about this weather, though hot tea is very nice, is that everything turns so green and the rolling hills in my little town become a vibrant shade of lime as they drink up all the raindrops. The freezing rain was falling quite steadily yesterday as I thought to myself that baking a little treat on such a dreary day was sure to brighten things up a bit. I welcomed the thought of bringing some warmth into the cold kitchen with the oven on and filling it with the aroma of something sweet being cooked. There is a large lemon tree in the backyard, and a lemon tart sounded scrumptious, so I pulled on my rain boots and plucked a few. My dog peered outside at me and seemed to wonder why I was out in the rain and fussing with that tree, but I assured her that there was a lemon tart to be made!

Lemon tart tree

Lemon tart towel

I realized that there was some tart dough still in my freezer as I had made an extra batch to save during some Christmas baking, but it was frozen rock solid, and so I put off my baking until the next day when it would be thawed. Today was equally cold with overcast skies like yesterday, and so I was glad to have postponed my lemony treat.

Lemon tart mixing bowl

This recipe is an adaptation of my beloved friend Michelle’s lemon squares, which we baked together at her home several months back with a glass of a local chardonnay, of course. We cracked eggs and poured the wine and juiced lemons and laughed while I stirred and she kneaded. Recipes always turn out better if you throw a pinch of laughter in.

final tart 4

So here is my Rainy Day Tart flavored by Backyard Lemons, made even more delicious if you throw in a pinch or two of laughter and are surrounded by good company!

This lemon tart is intended to be quite gooey on the inside, and will firm up only slightly as it cools. It’s even better served with a piping hot cup of chamomile-lavender tea, my favorite!




Makes one 13 3/4″ x 4 1/4″ tart. To make a 8″ x 11 1/2″ or circular 10″ tart, double the recipe.

For the tart dough:

For the tart filling:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Lemon zest of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup turbinado sugar (or alternatively, regular granulated sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tablespoon vanilla

For the seared lemon garnish (optional):

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place all dough ingredients in a food processor and mix until the dough comes together into a ball. Alternatively, mix together with your hands in a large bowl. Roll the dough until it becomes wide enough to fill a 13 3/4″ x 4 1/4″ tart pan, then transfer the rolled dough to the pan and press into the sides and bottom, discarding any extra dough, and prick with a fork. Place the pan in the freezer to chill for 20 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, make the seared lemon garnish (optional). Heat a small bit of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, and sprinkle a bit of sugar into the pan, adding the lemon slices immediately. Drizzle a bit more olive oil and sugar on top. Once sizzling, cook the lemon slices for 3 minutes each side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Take the dough out of the freezer, place it in the oven, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until dry to the touch but not golden.

While the dough is baking, mix all tart filling ingredients in a small bowl until incorporated. When the dough is done baking, take it out of the oven, pour in the filling, and return it to the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch.

Place the tart on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled, remove carefully from the tart pan.

Garnish with seared lemons, and a generous dusting of powdered sugar.

Towel from Williams Sonoma, mixing bowl by Farmhouse Pottery, tart pan from Williams Sonoma.

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