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German Lemon Tart

By: 
Tina Wasserman
German lemon tart
German lemon tart

Last summer I hosted a Shabbat dinner in my home for three German delegates from the American Jewish Committee’s Adenauer exchange – Matthias, Lucas, and Melanie. During dinner, Melanie told us a brief story about how she came to have the recipe for this lemon cake. In a subsequent letter, she shared with me both the recipe itself and the incredible story of how the recipe prompted her grandmother to reveal a long-held family secret.

Learn the long-held family secret that was uncovered thanks to this lemon cake recipe.

Ingredients: 
CRUST
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons water, or more if needed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional - more for Western tastes)
1 egg
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FILLING
2 1/3 cups ground almond meal
3/4 cup sugar
Zest and juice from 3 large lemons (about 3/4 cup juice)
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1 egg yolk for glazing the cake
Coconut oil or cooking spray for greasing pan
Directions: 
  1. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with coconut oil or spray.
  2. Combine all of the dough ingredients in a 2-quart mixing bowl and gently knead with your fingers until the dough forms a ball.  If needed, add a small amount of additional water until dough is moist and holds together.
  3. Divide the dough into 3/4 and 1/4.  Cover with plastic wrap and then refrigerate for 20 minutes to let the dough rest.
  4. Roll the larger piece of dough between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper into a circle that is about 1/8-inch thick.  Remove one piece of paper and then flip the dough into the pan, centering the dough as best you can.
  5. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Place pan in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
  6. Combine all of the ingredients for the filling and spread onto the dough in the pan.
  7. Roll out the remaining dough into a rectangle and cut 1/2-inch strips of dough with a knife or decorative pastry wheel.
  8. Place strips of dough crisscrossed across the filling pressing the ends into the side rim of dough to seal.  Brush with some egg yolk to glaze.
  9. Place the cake pan into a COLD oven and then turn the temperature to 350°F.
  10. Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Cake may be served warm or at room temperature.

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