Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lemon Curd

It is deceptively sunny in Seattle right now. Despite the cold, 700,000+ people turned out for the Seahawks' victory parade. On my way to work at six this morning people were already lining up. That's dedication. And while I admire theirs, spending the day in a bakery surrounded by big ovens is much more my speed.

It is super cold out, but it doesn't look like it. The sky is clear, the sun is out and there is a biting wind that makes your eyes water and ears numb.

There is nothing deceptive about this recipe. Lemon curd is straight up summer. It is a beautiful buttery yellow and packs a flavor punch thanks to fresh lemon juice and zest.

I used a recipe from the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. It has a high ratio of butter that gets whipped into the thickened custard. It is delightful.

Lemon juice, zest, sugar and eggs get whisked over a double broiler until thickened. Make sure to constantly whisk this mixture... even though a double broiler is a gentle method of cooking, custards can go from smooth to curdled in mere seconds. You can tell your curd is done when your whisk leaves trails on the surface that do not settle. You can also use a thermometer... 170F is the "doneness" we want.

Butter gets (vigorously) incorporated. Then just chill and use at your own discretion.

Use your finished lemon curd to fill a lemon meringue tart, make a parfait, or as a topping for warm scones. There is nothing bitter or biting about this recipe. Now if only the weather here would follow suit...

Lemon Curd
makes about 2 cups
from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

1 c fresh lemon juice (5-7 lemons)
zest of 5 lemons
4 large eggs
1 c sugar
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- - -
1. Zest lemons, set aside
2. Juice lemons, straining out seeds
3. Set up a double broiler (fill a saucepan with 2-3 inches of water and bring to a simmer)
4. In a small saucepan, bring lemon juice and zest to a boil
5. While the juice is heating, in a medium metal bowl (that will fit over the saucepan of simmering water) whisk together eggs and sugar
6. Temper the eggs by ladling about 1/3 c of the hot juice into the egg mixture and whisking; once the eggs have warmed add the rest of the juice
7. Place the bowl with the lemon mixture over the saucepan of simmering water (the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl); cook, whisking constantly for 20-30 minutes until curd thickens and reaches a temperature of 170 degrees F**
8. Strain the thickened curd through a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl; discard the zest in the strainer
9. Cut the butter into small pieces and immediatly add them to the hot curd and whisk until all the butter is melted and the curd appears light and completely smooth
10. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using to fill a tart or spreading on scones

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