To start the spring: recipe for a sour lemon cake

French specialty
To start the spring: Quick recipe for a sour lemon cake

Wonderfully fresh and sour in taste, this lemon cake evokes spring fever

© Bartosz Luczak / Getty Images

Spring is officially in its infancy. While the crocuses are blooming outside, a wonderfully fresh lemon cake gets us in the mood for the season. With just seven ingredients, you can make the French specialty yourself without much effort. The recipe.

It’s hard to imagine a French patisserie without it: the lemon cake or – a little more authentic – tarte au citron. No wonder, after all, the pastry with its intense lemon yellow color is an eye-catcher on every cake buffet. Especially in spring and summer, the French specialty ensures a good atmosphere on the plate. The finely sparkling aroma of the fruity and sour lemon cream, combined with a wonderfully crispy shortbread base, tastes of holiday and sun.

There are countless recipes for a good lemon cake. The French in particular disagree on how to do this, arguing about the use of meringue or meringue, a sweet or sour tone, and whether the cream should be baked or embedded in the shortcrust pastry like a lemon curd. In the UK, North America and Australia, lemon cake is best eaten with meringue topping – where it is called lemon meringue pie.

The secret with a good lemon cake

The classic French pastry usually consists of two components: the dough shell of fine shortcrust pastry – also known as “pâte sucrée”, which means something like sugared dough – and “cremeux au citron”, a fresh lemon buttercream. The fine shortcrust pastry is first baked blind without the cream. To prevent the bottom of the dough from collapsing or forming air bubbles during baking, it should be covered with parchment paper and weighed down with dried legumes before baking.

The cream filling is either (also) baked as a kind of cream in the dough shell or made of butter as an unfilled filling. While the cream is made in several laborious steps in the traditional preparation method, the filling in this recipe is based on only four ingredients and is cooked in no time at all. Eggs and sugar are mixed directly in the pot, which not only saves time but also dishes. Lemon peel and juice give the latter filling its unmistakable aroma. After everything has warmed up a bit, the base cream must cool down a bit. This is important to maintain the consistency and binding of the cream when adding the butter. Never boil the butter directly in the base cream, the individual butter components would separate and change the consistency and aroma considerably.

Good things take time

After the lemon cream has been placed on the pastry base, tarte au citron should be allowed to rest in the fridge for at least two hours. By the way, the French swear to leave the cake overnight, as it is the only way for it to develop its full aroma. But for better or worse, it depends on whether you feel able to resist the delicious sight of the cake for so long. The fruity sour cake is served with fresh whipped cream. Alternatively, you can sprinkle powdered sugar over the pastry. Good apetite.

Recipe for a 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 packaging vanilla sugar

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  1. Knead the flour with your hands with a pinch of salt and 75 grams of butter. Add four tablespoons of cold water and knead into a smooth dough. Wrap it in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees top / bottom heat. Grease a cake tin (approx. 26 cm in diameter) and powder over flour.
  3. Roll out the dough on a floured work surface into a circle about 30 centimeters in diameter. Carefully place in the prepared cake tin and press down until the entire tin including the edge is lined with the dough.
  4. Cover the pastry base with parchment paper and baking peas and pre-bake in the hot oven on the lower shelf for about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove parchment paper and parchment paper and bake for another 15 minutes until golden.
  6. Mix eggs and sugar in a saucepan.
  7. Wash and dry the lemons. Grate the skin, squeeze the juice and add both the egg and sugar mixture. mixture. Bring everything to a boil and allow to cool slightly.
  8. Dice 75 grams of butter and add, mix everything. Heat slowly and simmer for two minutes, stirring, until the cream thickens.
  9. Place the lemon cream on the shortcrust pastry base and smooth it out and let the cake stand cold 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 spread evenly on the cooled cake. Alternatively, sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar.

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