We had plenty of lemons this year on our tree. Using lemon juice and zest on regular basis and giving some lemons away, still left me with the full bucket of lemons. I also had egg yolks leftovers after making several batches of Tuile biscuits. Making lemon curd was the obvious solution.
The only problem was, I have never made lemon curd. I did my research, went through variety of recipes and methods of preparation, and decided to do it my own way, both in terms of ingredients, their ratios, and the way I wanted to make the curd. The idea was to make no fuss, easy recipe, adjusted to my circumstances with yolks leftovers. I wanted to have final preparation method simple, without delicate processes that could go wrong. I understood that I took liberties presuming that the process will work, but … it did, and did well, even to my own surprise.
I still had some honey left from different sugar free recipes I made lately, lemons we still there in a bucket, so I went for the second try with honey. It was not that straight forward and I had to salvage honey curd from being too acidic. Eventually I liked honey curd even better compared to sugar one. Quantities of ingredients in the honey recipe are adjusted according to the changes I made.
Recipe 1 with sugar
- 2 whole eggs (I use extra large eggs – 700g dozen)
- 2 egg yolks
- 125g unsalted butter, melted, cooled
- 180g sugar
- 175ml, 3/4 0f a cup lemon juice, strained
- 2 table spoons finely grinded lemon zest
Recipe 2 with organic honey
- 3 whole eggs (I use extra large eggs – 700g dozen)
- 2 egg yolks
- 125g unsalted butter, melted, cooled
- 250g honey
- 175ml lemon juice, strained
- 2 table spoons finely grated lemon zest
Method of lemon curd preparation is the same for both recipes. The only difference is ingredients quantity and using honey instead of sugar. The whole process is very easy when done using benchtop mixer, but it can be done with handheld mixer as well.
- peel 2 lemons
- juice lemons
- finely grind lemon zest in small cup blender, alternatively do not peel lemons but use lemon zester
- separate 2 eggs
- in a deep bowl beat 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks with sugar (honey) on high speed until pale
- with a mixer still working on high speed ad melted butter, using creamer or gravy boat makes this easier
- add lemon juice the same way melted butter was added
- when everything is mixed together, stop mixer, add lemon zest and mix it in with a whisk
- pour the mixture into non-stick sauce pan (I find the new Baccarat line Bio+ absolutely amazing)
- cook on very low heat, stirring constantly
- the mixture will thicken (because I did it the first time I was not sure of the needed consistency and used thermometer. It was easier to read on 170F settings)
- curd readiness can also be checked on the back of the wooden spoon
- I poured hot lemon curd straight from the sauce pan into clean, rinsed in boiling water and dried jars, and immediately covered them with lids
- I keep lemon curd in the fridge before and after jar opening
I have to admit that I did many things contrary to what is advised in majority of reputable recipes.
- I did not use only egg yolks
- I did not beat butter with sugar and added eggs, or egg yolk after that
- I did not use double boiler and cooked lemon curd directly in a sauce pan
- I did not cool lemon curd before placing it in a jar
As a result, however, I had an easy cooking process, did not have butter split, that is often mentioned as a part of the process. I was genuinely surprised that when butter was added to beaten eggs, either with sugar or with honey, the mixture did not split and butter was fully incorporated and the mixture remained homogenous. When I was adding lemon juice I was sure, that the split will happen, but it did not. As a speculative explanation I can offer the idea, that well beaten egg yolks in the mixture, made strong emulsion that was able to keep multiple liquids together.
Another point I like to make concerns honey lemon curd. When the process of cooking was close to the end and honey curd started to thicken, I tasted it, and it became clear to me that honey did not provide enough sweetness to balance intense acidity. I had to add more honey, a lot more. It meant that I had to beat extra honey with one extra whole egg and add it to nearly cooked curd. I did not add extra butter. As the result, honey curd had proportionately less butter, lemon juice and more egg. I can’t be sure that it will happen with every type of honey, because they may differ in sweetness, as well as different type of lemons might have different acidity level. All I can say, taste the final product during cooking and adjust ingredients if needed. This addition, in my case, did not affect the process of cooking. I just added extra honey beaten with an egg, continued cooking and there were no lumps, no splits, not burned pieced. Baccarat Bio+ is an excellent sauce pan and I believe it saved my day.
I forgot to say the most important thing – this intense taste of fresh lemons is just amazing! I used lemon curd as a bottom layer topped with vanilla berry cream to make tarts for our afternoon coffee.
Prebaked tart shells are always handy, they can be filled with lemon curd and topped with whipped cream to have them with a cup of coffee.