02 February 2011

Lemon Curd

What's in a name? I mean, Shakespeare said it, didn't he? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. This is the kind of statement that makes me want to push the concept. I mean, what if we take a lovely rose and call it a booger. Will we want to stick our noses in it and breathe deeply? I'm not so sure.

Take lemon curd. I mean, let's face it: curd is not a pretty word. It brings up images of Miss Muffet and spiders. Altogether too icky a name for this lovely stuff. It's like somebody boogered my rose. I think we should call it something else. What, though? Lemon roses? Lemon velvet? No, that sounds like chewing tobacco. Lemon sauce? Too liquid. Lemon jam? Close, but how to distinguish it from marmalade?

That's the problem. I don't like the name, but I can't think of a better one. Maybe French could help: lemon velouté. That's better, isn't it? It sounds like 'velvet'. The problem is that velouté is a soup. Lemon confit. That one has possibilities. But no, it's already taken for another thing. 

Sigh. I guess we'll just have to call it lemon curd. But it's not really curd-y. It's satin-y and smooth and tart and delicious on just about anything. It's wonderful in lemon tarts (especially the tiny ones) and on gingerbread and in verrines with a little whipped cream and maybe some oat shortbread cookies as a base. Here, though, a lot of it most of it gets eaten on my finger. Or on a spoon if I'm being fancy.

You really need fresh lemon juice for this. If all you have is bottled lemon juice, make a margarita and wait till you have the real stuff. It's the star of the show here and you want it to shine! This recipe calls for zest. I used to use a special lemon oil that I could find sometimes instead of the zest because the zest made little gritty lumps in the velvety smoothness of this stuff. Today, however, with a microplane grater I find that the zest just sort of disappears. So I use the zest.

Let's talk about butter. You need it here—no margarine. I use salted butter, but if yours is unsalted you can add a tiny pinch of salt if you want. I don't think it matters either way, to be honest. 

I've had this recipe for a very long time. It came from a now-defunct magazine called Cuisine. I loved that magazine. It was a little before its time, I think. There is a French magazine with the same name here. I buy it regularly and I like it almost as much as the old one. I've carried this recipe around with me for so may years that it's yellowed and spotted and I still love it. You will too.

On second know what, I don't think you'll like it after all. If anyone tries to give you some, don't eat it. Impound it immediately and send it to me. I'll take care of it for you.

You're welcome.

Lemon Curd
Adapted from Cuisine

3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
175 g / ¾ cup sugar
125 ml / ½ cup lemon juice
grated zest of one lemon
60 g / ¼ cup butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • Put eggs and egg yolks in a medium small saucepan over very low heat.
  • Whisk the eggs while adding the sugar and the lemon juice. Add the zest.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add the butter piece by piece. After each piece, stir until it's melted then add the next one.
  • Keep cooking, stirring constantly until it's thick and creamy. This can take up to 20 minutes, depending on your heat.
  • Pour into pretty jars and cover.
  • Refrigerate when cool.

Makes about 2 cups

  • I always use more lemon juice. I like it tart. You can taste it for tartness/sweetness as soon as you have the sugar and lemon and eggs all mixed up.
  • This is also good with a mixture of lime and lemon or with just limes.
  • Make sure that the butter is cold. As you add it, you're making an emulsion, so stir, stir, stir.
  • Many recipes for lemon curd use a double boiler. If you have one, that's a good idea. If you don't, you can do what I do and just use low heat. Be patient. DON'T turn up the heat - if you do, you risk ending up with lemon scrambled eggs.
  • They tell me that this will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks, but I can't confirm that. It doesn't last that long at my house.


Susan said...

This is reminding me of Two Words ... so... how about Lemon Ambrosia? Huh? Huh? I'm thinkin' it might fit the bill!

ButterYum said...

I love making and eating lemon curd. I like mine satiny smooth so I strain the zest from the finished curd, despite using a microplane grater.

Nice post!


ButterYum said...

PS - Rose Levy Beranbaum says Lemon Curd was first developed in England before refrigeration, where it was common for it to be stored for weeks at room temp. Both lemon juice and sugar are preservatives, so that makes sense to me.

Stella said...

Too funny! And it's true. I don't want to smell a booger/rose. On that note, I have no problem with the name 'lemon curd', though I agree that it's not quite appropriate;-) Ooh, and lemon velvet is actually a great name, Kate. Even if it does sound like some a tobacco product.
Your lemon curd looks wonderful, and I really appreciate that you have the recipe in both measurement systems.

Laurie said...

We use "lemon curd" in french too... Some have tried to translate it, but the result is not always pretty! My favorites; "Tartinade de citron" or "Crème à tartiner au citron"

Linda said...

Oh my...that lemon curd looks absolutely amazing! Your pics are gorgeous! Simply gorgeous! A bright yellow ray of sunshine here after the huge ice storm we had last night!
I too was a lover of Cuisine and I have many yellowed recipes cut out from it...I still have the December 1979 issue in full...I have carried it with me all these years...

Neo-Homesteading said...

I just made some the other day and as about 300 pounds of snow slid off my roof I was sincerely grateful I'd grabbed lemons at the grocery mart. Its amazing how different flavors can warm you up from the inside out!

This looks stunning.

Artmom said...

Kate, I can vouch for the fact that Lemon Curd has been around since before refrigeration! When I lived in Scotland, we didn't have a refrigerator and Mama made wonderful Lemon Curd when she could get the makings. :D

My fav way is to eat it by the spoonful (or fingerful) w/a cuppa' good strong tea.


La Table De Nana said...

I love lemon velouté..and I use salted butter..I really don't get unsalted:)

It looks fabulous!Diva velouté.

Sherry said...

My mom loves lemon curd, so I decided to make this for her. It's still cooling, but it tastes absolutely wonderful. I was getting nervous that it would take forever to thicken, but after the butter melted, it happened pretty quickly. Thanks so much for the recipe!

The Gypsy Chef said...

Hi Kate,
I love the snaps. So pretty in yellow and blue. It is screaming spring.
I also love Cuisine magazine. I was sorry to see it go. They once had an article on Peking Duck, you hung it in the kitchen while a fan blew on it for 24 hours, amongst other things. Quite a challenge in a Manhattan apartment.
Now I'm dying for lemon curd and blueberry tarts. If people start sending you the stuff, call me I'll come over and help dispose of it.
Love the post!
Your matey, Pam

A Canadian Foodie said...

A beautiful piece of reflective writing, Kate. I laughed when you said "What's in a Name?" as you so carefully selected and explained your site name... so I wasn't suprised by your elaboration - I was charmed by it. No, it is not curdy, is it. And, yes - butter IS a must. I have done a post on this, too... and the most tart one is not posted yet, though it is ready.
Love the jar and blue with yellow was STUNNING.
You are not getting my curd.
And, you ARE welcome!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

How about lemon mousse?

I love lemon curd too and am planning to bring Dorie's Amazing Lemon Cream Tart to bring to a Superbowl party on Sunday. Gold lemon tart with green mint leaves for our team's colors ;)

Lisa said...

Your lemon curd looks just lovely. I bet it would be spectacular in baked goods. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog called "Sweets for a Saturday" and I'd like to invite you to stop by and link your curd up.

2 Stews said...

I've been thinking about chocolate lately and remembering the luscious package you sent last year this time. I'm glad I'll be able to drop by soon and pick some up myself!!

Your lemon curd is truly sunshine on a spoon and probably what we all need during this snowy and cold winter. So, stand aside chocolate...Kate's lemon curd is next in line!


Barbara said...

Ahh. Lemon curd. No matter the name, it's FABULOUS. I've never made it myself as there are some lovely products out there. But I'm going to try, now that you've given me the recipe. I have made a form of it when I made a lemon angel pie of my mother's...I'll compare.
Isn't it funny, but my mouth is puckering and watering just looking at that photo!

Rich said...

Ha - Lemon Velvet chewing tobacco. I've got to say, it sounds better than 'Red Man' or 'Levi Garrett.' And don't ask why I know so much about chewing tobacco.

And of course, the curd looks fantastic ...

Jane said...

I agree entirely, Kate! Curd is not an attractive word at all, but I like your suggestion of "lemon velvet"--now that sounds like a wonderful substance! Lovely post.

Betty said...

We know it as lemon butter in Australia :)

Serendipity said...

In Australia we call it "Lemon Butter" - well, my English Mum did, anyway.

Andrea said...

Do you think you could use bottled lemon juice in this recipe or should you strictly use real lemons?

Kate at Serendipity said...

Hi Andrea. You could use bottled lemon juice, but I wouldn't do it. The point of this is the fresh lemon taste, and part of that comes from the oils in the zest. If you use bottled lemon juice you wouldn't have that punch from the zest and you'd have that bottled taste. Frankly, this is too much work to waste it on bottled juice. It's worth it to find some good lemons!