Wednesday, 27 February 2013

step by step : lemon curd

So, you'd like to make lemon curd?  How very fortuitous* ~ I happen to have the recipe right here . . .

three (large) eggs
75g marg
100g sugar
125ml lemon juice (two or three lemons, depending on their juicy~ness.  Or juice from the shop ~ usually in a green bottle and marketed primarily for pancakes!)

This lemon curd is soft and tangy, especially if you're used to eating supermarket versions.  You can have it on hot crumpets for a snack, on toast for breakfast, in lemon curd tarts, or to sandwiching the two halves of a Victoria sponge cake together.  A friend of mine shared her favourite serving suggestion with me ~ you take the jar in one hand, and a spoon in the other.  You could substitute limes for the lemons, and have lime curd, or go with a mixture of the two.  (Shameful admission : the lime curd on the left in the picture at the top had a secret ingredient ~ green food colouring.  Without it it looks pretty much the same as the lemon curd.) The two half litre jars in the photo at the top aren't full to the brim but I've found making more doesn't mean it lasts any longer ~ I think when there's plenty in the jar people (in my house at least) use more generous amounts.  I'm sure there's research on that somewhere on this magnificent inter~web of ours. . .

If you're wondering about reusing jars, the virgin's guide to jam jar etiquette might help, and since you'll need to sterilize whatever jar or pot you plan to put the lemon curd in (new or reused), if you're not sure how jam jar etiquette lesson three will walk you through it.
* * * * *

So here goes . . . 

Melt the marg in a fairly big saucepan ~ you'll be whisking in a minute and that's much easier in a larger pan.  Once it's melted, take off the heat to allow it to cool a little.
Juice those lemons!

Add the sugar and lemon juice to the pan (still off the heat), stir in briefly.

The reason for having allowed the pan to cool a little is so that the eggs aren't surrounded by hot liquid when you crack them in ~ otherwise they will start to poach and lemon curd with stringy bits of egg in does not taste great ~ go on, ask me how I know :-)

Get ready with that whisk ~ crack the eggs into the pan (still off the heat), and whisk whisk whisk!

I suppose you could use an electric whisk for this as long as you were careful not to splash it everywhere, but I like to think the energy expended through whisking by hand evens out the 'energy used to make' verses 'energy gained by eating' ratio.

Once things have mixed together, put the pan back on a medium heat, and keep whisking (but you can slow down a little now, otherwise  your hand might fall off).

You'll see the mixture starting to thicken, and slowly changing from translucent to creamy looking.  To make sure you don't end up with lumps,  keep whisking!

Test with a wooden spoon ~ if the mixture coats the back of the spoon and you run your finger through it, does the gap you made stay there?  

If not, lick your finger and carry on whisking.  Test again in a couple of minutes.

If the gap does stay, lick your finger (important to make sure you do, as otherwise  you'll get everything all sticky.  Go on, force yourself).

Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool a little while you sort the jar out.  

Pour the lemon curd into the jar, put the lid on, and once it's cool put the jar in the fridge.

Officially your lemon curd should only be kept for two weeks, but I found a bit left in the bottom of a jar that had been pushed to the back of the fridge and somehow escaped the ravenous fridge raids of my family, and even though it was almost a month old, it tasted absolutely delicious.  Please don't judge me!  You're grown ~ ups, you can make your own decisions!  Having said that, do keep it in the fridge.

Last thing to do, and one of the most important ~ scrape the saucepan out, and lick the spoon.

Thanks to a challenge from a friend, I have to include at least one fancy~pants word per post.  Feel free to give me your suggestions!

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