Lemon curd is just one of those things I never thought I would be able to make. For some reason those mysterious jars of bright yellow, tart goodness just seemed like they would be too complicated to make at home. Not that I understood how it was made, of course – more that it just seemed the kind of thing that only Delia Smith or Mary Berry could pull off.
So what is lemon curd? Perhaps for many of my non UK readers this sounds very unfamiliar and strange! Well, I’ll give you the practical description, and then my own description. Lemon curd is essentially eggs, butter, lemon juice and zest. It is slowly cooked over low heat until the eggs cook and thicken, and the curd can coat the back of a spoon. But that sounds so unappealing!!
A much better description is this; a luscious, sweet but tart smooth mixture, the consistency of a thick sauce (somewhere between chocolate spread and hoisin sauce – strange description I know, but I think it sums it up well!), with a really big punchy lemon flavour. You can make different fruit curds (I love raspberry curd and will do a post on that later this summer!) and it can be used in lots of ways – such as spreading on toast, filling a cake or flavouring buttercream, just to name a few.
So, despite my worry about making it, giving up dairy meant I had to find a way to eat lemon curd again… nothing else quite hits the spot like it! And actually when I finally was brave enough to try I realised it wasn’t really that hard. I tried various recipes and liked this Delia Smith one best. Don’t get me wrong – it is definitely a nerve wracking experience the first few times (and if you, like me, end up with scrambled eggs it can really put you off trying again!) but once you get the hang of it and know what to expect, it feels easier and is definitely worth it.
This is my first two part post – so if you weren’t already tempted to give this a try, next week I’ll be posting these Lemon Meringue Cupcakes where the curd is used as a filling and a flavouring for the buttercream. So go on, be brave and give it a try!!
Makes 3 350ml jars. Takes 45 – 50 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Delia Smith: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/main-ingredient/lemon/lemon-curd.html
- 3 350ml jars plus lids
- Grated zest and juice of 4 lemons
- 4 large eggs
- 350g caster sugar
- 225g dairy free butter
- 1 dessert spoon cornflour
- Sterilise the jars – option 1 – wash the jars with a clean sponge in hot soapy water, spread them out on a baking tray and put into a cold oven. Heat the oven to 140 degrees and leave in there for 15 – 20 minutes. When done the jars should be hot and completely dry. Turn the oven down to 100 degrees and leave in there until needed. Wash the lids with soapy water, and then pour over boiling water from the kettle. Carefully pick up each lid and leave to air dry on a clean tea towel.
- Sterilise the jars – option 2 – put the jars in the dishwasher on a hot cycle, aiming for the cycle to finish about 10 minutes before you need them (this ensures they are completely dry). Take out of the dishwasher and use immediately. Wash the lids with soapy water, and then pour over boiling water from the kettle. Carefully pick up each lid and leave to air dry on a clean tea towel.
- In a small bowl or glass add 1 tbsp of the lemon juice to the cornflour and mix until smooth.
- In a medium sauce pan off the heat, lightly whisk the eggs and then add the rest of the ingredients, including the cornflour.
- Put the saucepan over a very low heat, whisking constantly – don’t worry, the butter will eventually melt down. (tip: Don’t be worried if the mixture gets near boiling point – when little bubbles start appearing at the sides. Simply turn the heat down or take the pot off the heat for 30 seconds. Although the cornflour makes the mixture more stable and able to hit higher temperatures without curdling the eggs, you don’t want it to boil)
- Keep whisking for 10 – 15 minutes, until the curd starts to thicken. Test how thick it is by checking if it coats the back of a spoon. (tip: Coating the back of a spoon means the mixture can still drip off the spoon but only slowly. If you run your finger through the middle it should leave a clean line and hold this shape if you turn the spoon around)
- After removing the jars from the oven, carefully pour the curd into each jar, and screw on the lid gently (tip: don’t do the lid too tight, as the jars cool the lid will become tighter).
- Leave to cool completely, then store in the fridge – Unopened for up to 3 months, opened for 1 month.