The Likely Reason Your Lemon Tart Is Cracked

There are numerous frustrations that can lead to less than perfect pastries. As we've seen on the legendary "Great British Bake Off," soggy bottoms, collapsing cakes, and rock-hard biscuits are par for the course in the education of every baker. Still, however inspiring and entertaining the antics of 12 British bakers might be, it does little to ease the frustration of the moment.

"Bake Off" alumnus Richard Burr, writing for the BBC, lists 10 common pastry issues and how to avoid them. One such issue is the problem of a curdled custard tart. Burr explains that custard, especially ones that are heavy on fruit, have a tendency to split as a result of the moisture content and too-high oven temperatures. This is the chief issue you'll encounter when baking a lemon tart. Something that is supposed to come out looking like a beautiful, glassy, lemon curd lake can often turn out cracked and unappealing. 

We'll further examine the reasons behind this, and the simple solutions you can implement to achieve the perfect lemon tart.

Bring down the heat and check the wobble

Zestful Kitchen tells us "the most common reason why your tart cracked is because the oven was too hot." It's easy to be tempted by the lure of the myth that jacking up the oven temp will lead to a faster bake. But recipes have been painstakingly developed to help you achieve the best possible result. The oven temperature called for should be followed and 350 degrees Fahrenheit is the highest you should go when baking a lemon tart. 

Keeping your oven at a lower temperature is insurance against another common problem: over-baking. According to the Gourmet Traveler, the best way to cook your tart evenly is to keep the oven heat low and rotate the tart halfway through the bake time. You'll know the tart is finished and set when it has a bit of a wobble in its center. You can test this by gently nudging your tart tin. Once the tart is out of the oven, it is imperative that you allow it to cool completely in its pan before removing it. Neglecting to do so, as Zestful Kitchen explains, will result in cracking as the tart is still too warm at this stage to have set completely. 

Having the patience to avoid these mistakes will result in an excellent final product you'll be happy to present for dessert.