My mother, as I have mentioned before many times, is Irish. And when I used to visit there without her, I’d ask what I could bring back and it was always a jar of “Little Chip” marmalade, and a jar of lemon curd. Now, American’s might get lemon curd if I liken it to the filling for a lemon meringue pie, but seriously, this is so much better and much more liquid. The main difference between the two is that lemon meringue filling uses corn starch to thicken it, and that sets up as a much more solid texture than curd. It’s much more silky, almost custard-like and less jelled than the filling. It’s also refreshingly tart, but with sweetness that stops you from the pucker. Lemon curd is just something you have to experience to believe. You can also make lime curd, blood orange curd, pretty much any citrus will make a good curd, and I have even seen raspberry and dulce de leche curd recently!
A few Sunday’s ago, we had breakfast at Brooklyn Street Local, one of our favorite breakfast spots in Detroit. They’re wonderful, and they have poutine, which is uniquely Canadian (although I hear they also do it well in Wisconsin) and wonderfully indulgent, plus they do vegetarian (yay Hubby) and meat eater versions. They use locally sourced food and lots of Michigan products including their wonderful coffee. If you’re in the D, this is for sure a place to go! We changed our usual routine and had the scones as a sort of breakfast appetizer. It’s not the first time I have had them, but it was for the Hubby, they are served with a local jam, and some kick ass lemon curd. It put me in mind of a cake I made for Mothers Day many years ago. I won’t go into the excruciating details, but suffice it to say, I can not make white chocolate ganache to save my life. However, I made the most wonderful lemon curd for my curd loving Mom. The cake ended up being a lovely springy sponge, with whipped cream as the frosting, blackberries as the garnish and a lovely, rich lemon curd as the filling. I think I remember my mom loving it. In telling the story to the Hubby, he asked in a very accusatory fashion, “Why haven’t you made it for ME?” And so, I am.
Now, before we start, some practical matters. It is much easier to zest a lemon before you juice it, so refrigerate the lemons after you have washed them in hot soapy water, to remove any wax that may have been applied. Let them get good and cold. Then use a rasp if you have one, or a box grater on the fine side and lightly grate the yellow zest off. You can even use a vegetable peeler, but once you reach the white pith, stop. Pith isn’t going to do anyone any good in this recipe, or indeed in most others, so stop a few seconds after you start, and move to another area. Another traditional thing when making this is that you use a double boiler. But this time, I am going to say don’t do that. Just keep the flame low, and whisk all the time. It will make for more work, but it’s less fiddly.
This is how your lemons should look after zesting, before juicing!
Some ideas for the curd are pretty simple and easy. Spread it on toast, with butter. Fill a cake with it. Use it for a pie filling. Fold it together with whipped cream for a light and lemony side to fruit salad. So, here it is, lemon curd.
1/2 cup lemon juice (from above lemons)
4 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (omit if you’re using salted butter)
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, off the heat, whisk everything together. Don’t be alarmed if it looks curdled, that’s OK. This is what it might loom like:
After everything is well mixed, and the sugar is dissolved, put it on a low heat, and start stirring. Set your timer for 9 minutes, and don’t stop stirring.
After about 8 minutes, you should start to feel a slipperiness on the bottom of the pan. That is a great sign, it means it’s starting to gel.
It will start to look slightly grainy, and as though it is starting to curdle, but it isn’t, that’s the zest plumping up and rising to the surface. Keep stirring, and when your timer stops, stop stirring and see if it starts to bubble. If so, you’re almost done! Keep stirring for another 3 minutes or so, and you’ll see it transform from a runny yellow liquid to a smooth and creamy custard-like consistency. It’s exactly where you want it. Take it off the heat and pour it into a waiting glass container. You should immediately cover this with plastic wrap and press it onto the surface all over the exposed top. You’ll prevent a skin forming. Then let it completely cool at room temperature. Once it’s completely cool, you can spoon it into jars, or a bowl with a lid, and store it in the fridge for up to a week. Mine won’t last that long, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner!
My completed bowl!