This Lemon Surprise Tart riffs on the flavors that won the Great American Baking Show

Vallery Lomas
This lemon surprise tart is a game changer.

This recipe is by Vallery Lomas, author of Life Is What You Bake It and winner of the Great American Baking Show, season 3. This content was edited for clarity and brevity.

When I was in law school, I learned that one of the keys to success is to under-promise and over-deliver. I happen to be the “dream big, talk often” type, so this is something I’ve naturally struggled to implement. 

The strategy paid off big in the finale of The Great American Baking Show when I decided to tweak one of my recipes, at the last minute, after pulling an all-nighter of vigorous testing. The tweak was to add bits of candied ginger to the lemon curd filling for my cream puffs. As I took a bite of the mouth-puckering lemon curd and landed on the sharp, peppery bit of ginger, it was like fireworks in my mouth!

Keeping a secret on the set wasn’t easy with swarms of producers and cameras, but I somehow pulled it off. When Paul Hollywood took a bite of the pastry, he threw his arms into the air and yelled out, “Wow!,” completely startling me.

You, too, can have people exclaiming with pleasure when they bite into this stupendously delicious and easier-than-it-looks, surprising lemon tart.


4 teaspoons cold water

1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

4 large eggs

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup diced candied ginger

1 pie crust, fully baked

Unsweetened whipped cream (recipe follows, optional)

Honey (optional)


Add the cold water to a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Use a fork to stir until well combined.

To a medium saucepan, add the lemon zest, eggs and sugar and whisk vigorously until combined. Whisk in the lemon juice.

Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick and creamy, about 8 minutes. The curd is done when it coats the back of a wooden spoon, and when you drag your finger across the curd on the spoon, the streak remains visible.

If you see any bits of curdled egg in the lemon curd, simply strain the curd through a sieve into a separate bowl.

Remove the lemon curd from the heat and stir in the butter until melted. Then, stir in the gelatin mixture until just combined (the heat will melt the gelatin). Stir in the candied ginger, then pour the filling into the crust. Refrigerate the tart until it’s completely set, about 4 hours or up to two days.

Serve cold, topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of honey if desired.

For the whipped cream:

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Place the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a medium bowl, if using a hand mixer). Whisk or beat on medium speed until you have soft peaks. Then, lower the speed to low, as it’s easy to overwhip at this point. Continue beating just until you reach stiff peaks.