Okay, I’ve been jumping around in How To Eat a tad – mainly because it’s suited me – but today we’re back into Chapter 1 and talking about lemon curd. I love it – just like butter but tangy, sweet and smooth all at the same time. It’s also easier than you’d think to make and tastes much better than the shop-bought versions – although with a substantially shorter shelf-life.
Even though it’s really more like custard in method and texture, it was called fruit cheese in the 18th century – possibly because early recipes called for lemon juice to acidulate cream, with the resulting “curd” being the prize. Back then many recipes also called for pieces of sugar to be razed against the lemon to release the zest. Thank goodness, I say, for the invention of the grater.
Anyways, this stuff really is like a little zesty jar of sunshine – and, although fabulous on white bread or scones with cream – it’s much more versatile than that.
A perfect filling for meringues, when combined with the same quantity of whipped cream (or Greek yoghurt) and piled into glasses and served with almond biscuits (or even with the almond biscuits crushed into it) it becomes an instant dessert. I use it in my lemon pavlova – which is, of course, Nigella’s lemon pavlova – and in the lemon meringue ice-cream that I told you about the other week. We had friends over for dinner last Saturday night and I used it in Nigella’s no-bake no-fuss fruit tart that’s more like a cheesecake than a fruit tart. You can find the recipe here.
The biggest challenge with lemon curd is avoiding the dreaded curdle. If you keep stirring throughout you shouldn’t have a problem, but Nigella suggests filling the sink with cold water before you start so if it looks like curdling you can plunge your pan into the water and stir like the blazes.
Okay, the recipe. As luxurious as this is, it’s also very much a sometimes food so I halve the quantities that Nigella uses in How To Eat. Nigella also suggests using this recipe to make a passionfruit curd – and I’ve done that too when passionfruits have been in season at the markets.
Instead of the lemon use the pulp and juice of 10 passionfruits. Blitz it briefly in the processor (I use the nutribullet) – so the juice and seeds separate – and strain. You can then follow the recipe as below, but stir in the pulp and juice of another passionfruit at the end. This makes a fabulous filling for a tart or to spoon into those little mini pie shells you get from the supermarket.
What you need…
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 150 grams caster sugar
- 100 grams unsalted butter – at room temperature and chopped into small squares
- juice and finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
What you do with it…
- In a heavy-based saucepan, off the heat, whisk together the eggs and sugar.
- Add the lemon juice, zest and butter and, over medium heat, stir until the butter melts and then keep stirring until it thickens – perhaps another 5 minutes or so. Take it off the heat every so often while you’re stirring so that it doesn’t catch and burn at the bottom of the pan.
- Once thickened – remember it will thicken more in the fridge – take it off the heat, allow to cool slightly and pour into a 350ml jar. Strain it if you want, but I can’t be faffed. Besides, I quite like the texture you get from the zest.
I’ve taken on the challenge to cook my way through Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat. You can find other episodes here.
It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…
It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, Debbish, Write of the Middle, and, of course, me.