Lemon curd is a luscious English cream that is usually spread on scones, but there are so many other ways to use it in the pastry kitchen: as a filling for tarts, cakes, and cookies; as a base for mousses or semifreddo or simply on buttered toast. One can appreciate the vibrant flavor of fresh lemon and the satiny texture of the curd.
It is made by cooking lemon juice and zests with eggs and sugar until you get a thick cream. Although it seems very easy to prepare, you may end with bits of cooked and curdled egg if you are not careful while cooking the cream.
For years I made my lemon curd by tempering the eggs very carefully with the hot liquid and then cooking the sauce in a double boiler to avoid overcooking the eggs. I also strained the mixture to make sure no curdled eggs ended in my cream. I was very surprise when I saw a David Lebovitz (formerChez Panisse chef) method for making the curd by heating everything together over direct heat. I loved the idea of cutting some steps, so I tried it immediately. The result was outstanding! It was very creamy and smooth and it had a wonderful flavor. I wanted to share this new method (at least for me) with you and an old recipe I had written while working at restaurants in the bay area. Feel free to try David’s recipe here:
makes about a pint
- 3 eggs
- 3 eggs yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- zest of 3 lemon
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (about six lemons)
- pinch of salt
- 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, cut up into small pieces
Whisk the eggs, the sugar, the lemon zest, the lemon juice and the salt into a saucepan.
Add the butter cut in cubes. Turn the heat to low and continue mixing until the butter is melted.
Turn the heat to medium low and stir with a wooden spoon or whisk until thickened.
Strain, cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.