A light, summery tart filled with lemon cream and topped with lots of fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.
I think one of the first things I baked at home once I decided to attend culinary school and become a “serious” baker was a tart just like this— a sweet pastry dough crust with a homemade vanilla pastry cream and fresh berries. It wasn’t a huge challenge, but there was just something about being able to make one of my favorite bakery treats at home all by myself.
It was definitely a proud moment, and one that made me think “okay, I can do this.”
Fast forward almost 10 years (what?!) and countless baked treats later, and tarts are still one of my favorite desserts. Both to look at and eat. They’re just so pretty and sophisticated. They’re fancy, and even a little bit dainty.
But for whatever reason, I don’t make them nearly often enough. Time to change that, starting with this lemon berry tart!
It’s not hard, but neither is it as simple as baking up a batch of cookies. You’ll need a little time and concentration to make the crust and filling and then put it all together. But if I could do it as a baking novice, then you surely can too, regardless of your experience in the kitchen.
And you should! Because this tart is just lovely and absolutely delicious. The crust is crisp and buttery, the creamy filling has a nice subtle lemon flavor, and the brightness of the summer berries steals the whole show.
Lemon Berry Tart
For the crust:
- 1 1/3 cup (160 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2-3 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
- 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cups (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (28 grams) cornstarch
- Zest 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Juice 1 lemon
- 2-3 cups fresh berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries
To make the crust:
- Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor. Add the cubed butter and cut into the other ingredients with a pastry blender until coarse and sandy, or if you're using a food processor, pulse in short bursts.
- Whisk together the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of the ice water. Add to the bowl and use a spoon or your hands (or a few pulses) to bring it together into a ball. If needed, add more ice water 1/2 tablespoon at a time.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill 1 hour. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead.)
- On a floured surface, roll the crust out to a rough 12 or 13-inch circle. Transfer to a greased 8-inch tart pan and press it in gently. Remove any overhanging crust. Chill 30 minutes. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead, cover with plastic wrap.)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line chilled crust with greased foil and fill tart with baking weights, dry rice, or beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake for 10 minutes more, until golden. Remove and cool completely.
For the filling:
- Prepare the filling at any time while the crust dough is chilling or being baked, and up to 1 week in advance.
- Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat just until bubbles appear at the edges. Do not bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest. Mixture will be very thick. When milk is warm, add to the egg mixture in a small steady stream while whisking constantly.
- Return mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until thick, while stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. This should take about 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in butter, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
- Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard. Chill completely, 1-2 hours.
- Spread cooled custard into the cooled crust and top with fresh berries. Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge for up to 2 hours. Tart is best the day it is assembled.