Quick lemon curd

I say “quick” because if it wasn’t, I would probably not make it. For instance, I love macaroons and prefer my own to almost all the macaroons I have ever bought, but they need several stages to make and you can’t just put down half a try of macaroon shells to finish off later and I don’t often have that much uninterrupted time. As a result, I haven’t made any in about three years. Also, I think they are outrageously expensive (probably because they need time and time is money).

Lemon curd is delicious eaten straight from the jar, but it’s also fabulous in plain Greek yoghurt, as a filling for pavlova or with strawberry tart, and it’s great for gussying up a plain butterfly cake along with a dollop of whipped cream.

I have several recipes for lemon curd, all of them good, but the one I am posting today is from the Ottolenghi recipe book. The reason? Simplicity. I used to whisk my lemon curd in a bain marie over hot water… No need here. You whisk it straight in a pot.

What you need:

200ml lemon juice (4-6 lemons)

grated zest of 4 lemons

200g caster sugar

4 eggs (preferably free-range)

4 egg yolks

180g unsalted butter

What you do:

  • Put all the ingredients in a large, heavy-based saucepan, leaving out half the butter.
  • Put on medium heat.
  • Cook while whisking constantly (reduce heat if it starts sticking).
  • Once the curd reaches boiling point, you will notice large bubbles coming to the surface. Continue whisking vigorously for about a minute, then remove from the heat.
  • Off the heat, add remaining butter and whisk until melted.
  • Pass the curd through a sieve and into a plastic container.
  • Cover the surface with cling film (NOT the container, the SURFACE. Push it right down onto the top of the curd. This is a commonly-used trick in cooking and avoids a thick skin forming.)
  • Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.

Sometimes little white protein flecks appear in the curd towards the end. They get caught in the sieve, as does the excess lemon zest and any little lumps you might not have whisked out properly.

The curd will keep in the fridge for about 4 days. My Mum used to put it in sterilized jars, like jam, and keep it in the larder. 

It’s killer good and takes just a few minutes.

To avoid waste, I usually make meringues (or pavlova) with the extra egg whites, which makes for a divine dessert. Maybe next time I’ll make macaroons instead. With yellow food coloring. And fill them with lemon curd. That’s at least as good as Ladurée…

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