Friday, February 25, 2011

Lemon Curd

In the continuing what can I do with all these lemons saga, I decided to try my hand at some lemon curd. I had read a blog a while back about making curds and had filed it away under the someday category of my brain but I had honestly forgotten about it as I stared at my pile of lemons over the last couple of weeks. I had been waiting for them to speak to me, like a sculptor staring at a blank rock waiting for it to tell him what it's meant to be. Then, a week ago I had a baking day with some friends, one of whom brought a jar of lemon curd her mother had made. Suddenly that filed away blog post came running back into my mind and I felt silly for not having remembered it earlier. A brief Internet search later I marched into my kitchen with a recipe in one hand and a basket of lemons in the other, ready to create that beautiful mixture of sunshine and happiness that is lemon curd.

Before I launch into the recipe, I know some of you may still be stuck thinking, lemon what? Lemon curd, which is sometimes also referred to as lemon cheese, became popular in England and America in the 1800s as an accompaniment to toast, scones, muffins, etc. during afternoon tea. It can also be used as a filling for cakes and tarts. The most popular form in which you are most likely to have encountered it is in lemon meringue pie, the bottom half of which is lemon curd. Lemon curd is similar to lemon custard, but curds contain more juice and zest than custards, which makes their flavor more intense. Oh and just in case you aren't particularly fond of lemon, curds can be made with any citrus and even other fruits such as blueberries and raspberries!

Lemon Curd aka Sunshine on a Spoon
recipe from Fine Cooking


6 Tbsp. soft unsalted butter
1 cup of sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup of lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest


1) In a large bowl beat the sugar and butter together with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes.

2) Slowly add the eggs and yolks. Fully incorporate each egg/yolk before adding the next one.

3) Beat mixture for 1 minute then add the lemon juice. Be sure to strain the lemon juice  to get all the bits of  pulp out so your curd comes out smooth. Cheese cloth works great for that.

4) Heat the mixture in a non-reactive pan over medium heat for about 15 minutes stirring gently but constantly. Do not let the mixture boil. The curd is done when it reaches 170 degrees or when it has thickened significantly and your finger leaves a path through it on the back of a spoon.

5) Remove curd from heat and add zest. Allow to cool slightly then transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so that the wrap is touching the curd. This will prevent a skin from forming on top of the curd as it cools. Refrigerate overnight and then transfer to permanent lidded containers such as canning jars.

-When you first add the lemon juice the mixture may curdle a bit, don't worry, it'll all melt together.

-The curd is very hot at 170 degrees. Be prepared for it to hurt your finger if you use the spoon test.
-This batch should make roughly two cups of curd (total estimate, I didn't measure).
- Curd will keep in the fridge for a couple weeks, or you can freeze it and use it over the next six months or so.
-Be careful when heating your curd that you don't overcook it. It quickly goes from being about 150 to being 170. I got surprised by that and ended up cooking mine up to about 180. It tastes fine, just not quite as awesome as it would have.


Kristin said...

I'm glad my mom's lemon curd lent inspiration for your culinary experimentation! Baking day was fun; we should do that again sometime.

Kay said...

That lemon curd was amazing. It was exactly what my mom's lemon pies tasted like. For a real treat, I would spread some on a cracker and I felt like I was 10 years old again enjoying my favorite pie... what a treat. Now I just need to find someone with a whole lot of lemons on their tree..........