Delia Smith’s lemon tart recipe that ‘took time’ to perfect

Delia Smith, the legendary British TV presenter and chef, has spent time and effort perfecting her ‘definitive’ lemon tart recipe over the years.

The cook’s recipes are predominantly known for their classic and straightforward approach, making them a staple in households across Britain.

When the cook came and claimed to have found the ultimate recipe for a lemon tart, cooks around the world instantly knew it would be a hit.

The dessert is the perfect sweet treat to round off a meal thanks to its light texture and tangy flavour.

“I spent a great deal of time trying every sort of lemon tree imaginable to come up with the definitive version,” the cook recalled on her website.

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Her approach to the recipe differs slightly from others in that it uses a different pastry-to-filling ratio. The lemon tart is therefore slightly thicker tha one might expect, and “quite rightly” includes more filling than pastry.


175 grams of plain flour

40 grams of icing sugar

75 grams of butter, removed from the fridge for 20 minutes

Pinch salt

One large egg yolk (reserve the white for later

One tablespoon of water.

For the filling:

Five lemons (225ml lemon juice) and the zest

Five large eggs, lightly beaten

150 grams of golden caster sugar

175 ml double cream


  1. To make the pastry, add all the ingredients except the egg white into a food processor with a spoonful of water and whizz it up until you’ve got a firm dough. Give it a quick knead, pop it in a plastic bag, and let it chill out in the fridge for half an hour,
  2. In the meantime, set your oven to 190C or gas 6 – and place the solid tray inside to warm up. Roll out your rested astray till it becomes thin and carefully line a deep fluted quiche tin with a loose base that has been lightly oiled. It should be about 23 cm across and 4cm deep.
  3. Press the pastry gently into the corners and trim off any extra bit on top with a sharp knife. Then press again so the pastry is slightly higher than the tin and price with a fork to let out any trapped air. Pop it in the freezer for about half an hour.
  4. Once the astray case is frozen, cover it with foil and press it down over the base and up the sides of the pastry, turn the edge of the foil inward and scrunch it against the sides to hold the pastry in place while it cooks. Put the pastry case on the hot tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Take the pastry case out of the oven and carefully remove the foil. Brush the base and sides all over with the beaten egg white and put it back in the oven for seven to eight minutes, then, as you take it out, turn the temperature down to 180 C, gas 4.

For the filling:

1. First, zest the lemons and squeeze out enough juice to make 225 ml. They crack the eggs into a jug, add sugar, and give it a good whisk 0 but don’t overdo it or the eggs will get too thick. Next, pour in the lemon juice and zest, followed by the cream, and give it a light whisk.

2. Pour the filling directly from the jug into the pastry case. It’s easier to do this right at the oven with the case on the baking sheet, so you don’t have to carry it across the kitchen and risk spilling.

3. Pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the tart feels springy to the touch. Let it cool down for about half an hour if you want to serve it warm, or pop it in the fridge to chill. Sprinkle some icing sugar on top and serve with chilled creme fraiche.

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