Sunday, 23 October 2011

Lemon Curd

I've loved lemons for as long as I can remember.  In fact, one of my earliest memories is being out for a fish and chip dinner with my family, somewhere in deepest Wales and bugging everyone to let me have the lemon wedges from their plates to suck on.  In fact, some people may attribute my countenance to that very moment.  And that's probably why my teeth are as bad as they are from all that citric acid.

Anyway, give me a choice of three cake flavours on any given day and I would pick - in no particular order - lemon, chocolate and coffee.  Three cake flavours I both love and excel at.  My cupcake of the moment is lemon-scented sponge with a lemon curd centre, topped with lemon royal icing.  Not as trendy as the big, fancy butter cream swirls that most people expect to see topping cupcakes, but once you've had one you'll understand why.

I come from a family where the motto is 'the sharper the better' when it comes to anything lemon-based.  I adore tarte au citron (on the list of things to make this year if I ever get people coming for dinner - which will be never) but can't stand it when the lemon is beaten into submission by far too much sugar.  What's the point.

So when it came to making my own  lemon curd to go inside the cupcakes - I have yet to find a beautifully sharp shop bought variety - I spent some time looking for a really good recipe and settled on one by Mr Nigel Slater.

There were many similar recipes with almost identical methods, but Slater's used half as much sugar as all the rest.  Okay, so the yield was only just over one 1lb jar, making it quite an expensive jar of lemon curd but it's so lemony, it makes your cheeks tingle.  It's also a gorgeous, bright yellow colour which has been sadly disguised by my attempt to use Flickr on my phone as Instagram don't do Android.
Flickr for Android just isn't as good as Instagram

To get the best from the lemons, I stuck them into the oven on 100c for ten mins while I was sterilising my jam jars and then used a lemon reamer - far more satisfying to a stressed out mother than the citrus press that came with my Kenwood mixer.

Can't wait to try it in the cupcakes which I still need to make later today.  I have to confess to already having tried it mixed into a little bowl of whipped double cream that was hanging around the fridge.  What an amazing pudding that would make for unexpected guests with some of the lovely soft lemon curd amaretti biscuits I made a while ago.


"Most lemon curd recipes instruct you to stir the mixture with a wooden spoon. I find that stirring lightly with a whisk introduces just a little more lightness into the curd, making it slightly less solid and more wobbly." - Nigel Slater
Makes 2 small jam jars (or one 1lb jar with a little left over)
  • zest and juice of 4 unwaxed lemons
  • 200g sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 3 eggs and 1 egg yolk

Put the lemon zest and juice, the sugar and the butter, cut into cubes, into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the basin doesn't touch the water. Stir with a whisk from time to time until the butter has melted.
Mix the eggs and egg yolk lightly with a fork, then stir into the lemon mixture. Let the curd cook, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes, until it is thick and custard-like. It should feel heavy on the whisk.
Remove from the heat and stir occasionally as it cools. Pour into spotlessly clean jars and seal. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

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