Saturday, August 11, 2012

How to make lemon curd?

This was meant to be a "How to make lemon curd" post that left me with some egg whites that I didn't have the heart to throw away. I usually keep the leftovers in the fridge for later use (which never happens anyway). However this time, the egg whites came to good use. The lemon curd, the crushed meringue and some whipped cream made a simple yet satisfying dessert. It's relatively easy to make and I have tried to be as detailed as I can but if there is anything that is not clear, let me know.

For those of you who are not familiar with lemon curd, it is like custard but less sweet with an intense flavour from lemons. It's also sometimes described as lemon-flavoured butter. Whichever way you look at it - it is delicious! The only downside is that they can't be refrigerated for too long (generally upto one week). Feel free to taste and adjust the amount of sugar in the lemon curd. Since I had the lemon curd with meringue, which is very sweet, I made mine very tangy.

(About 6 servings)
Lemon Curd:
3 large egg yolks
50 g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 tbs caster sugar (for the lemon syrup)
1/3-2/3 cup caster sugar
3 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbs lemon zest

3 large egg whites
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt or cream of tartar

To assemble:
2/3 cup whipping cream (I used 40 %)
4 tbs icing sugar/confectionar's sugar
1 tsp vanillin sugar/vanilla extract
Fresh fruits or berries (for garnish)

To cook the lemon curd you could use a double boiler or place a glass bowl with 1 inch of water on the stove. Make sure that the bowl on top does not touch the water underneath. I personally prefer not to cook the lemon curd in a double boiler or metal bowls because the lemon reacts with metals (resulting in a strange aftertaste). The best option is to use a heatproof glass bowl to cook the lemon curd in.

Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and place the egg yolks in a heat-proof glass bowl or double boiler. When you separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, make sure that there is no trace of egg yolks in the egg whites (that you need to make the meringue). Place the egg whites in a clean and dry bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed. Cut the butter into small sticks and let it come to room temperature. Mix the lemon juice with the sugar (needed for the lemon syrup) and the lemon zest. Whisk the egg yolks until smooth. While whisking the egg yolks, gradually add the lemon syrup into the egg mixture. Place the glass bowl with the mixture on top of the cooking pot with the water (that should be on a simmer). Keep stirring the mixture until it thickens at very low temperature (on simmer). The lemon curd is not suppose to boil and get bubbly. If the water underneath is too hot, the lemon curd can start curdling and that's why it is cooked over simmering water that shouldn't touch the bowl on top.

Once the lemon curd has thickened (or reached the consistency of hollandaise), taste and add some more sugar as preferred and then add the butter sticks and stir until the butter has completely melted. Take the bowl away from the stove. Strain the lemon curd to get rid of the lemon zest and any lumps that may have formed. Allow the lemon curd to cool to room temperature first, stir and then transfer the lemon curd into a clean and dry jar. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled. Generally, you can keep the lemon curd refrigerated for upto one week.

To make the meringue, take the egg whites out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 150 C (about 300 F). Please don't use a bowl that is too wide to whisk the egg whites. Start whisking the egg whites with a handmixer at low to medium speed until foamy and bubbly. At this stage you can add the salt or cream of tartar. Continue to whisk and then add the sugar gradually when the meringue is at the pre-soft peak stage to make sure the sugar gets fully dissolved and now you can start whisking at medium speed. Soft peaks mean peaks that curl downwards when you remove the whisk from the mixture. The peaks that appear at the soft peak stage are still soft and not firm (unlike stiff peaks that remain stiff and straight when you remove the whisk).

Once you have added the sugar you will notice that the mixture gets really glossy, white and dense as you whisk. You have to stop whisking from time to time to check what stage you are at. It is only when you remove the whisk from the meringue mixture, you will be able to see what kind of peaks are formed. Once you have reached the stiff peak stage, you can stop whisking. At this stage the peaks should be stiff and somewhat, if not completely, straight when you remove the whisk. You will also notice that, the meringue mixture is so firm that even if you turn the bowl upside down, the mixture wont move. Take some of the mixture and rub between your fingers and check if the sugar has been completely dissolved.

Line an oven sheet with parchment paper. It's also a good idea to take some of the mixture that is left on the whisk and place them on the underside of each corner of the parchment paper to prevent the paper from sliding. Carefully spoon 12 cookies (or so) out of the meringue using two tablespoons onto the parchment paper. Don't try to flatten the meringue as you do this. Handle it gently. The meringue can sometimes deflate in the oven, if not handled gently. Once the oven is hot, lower the temperature to 90-100 C (about 200-210 F) and place the meringue in the center rack of the oven and allow it to bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Halfway through, open the oven and rotate the oven sheet so that all of them are evenly baked. Turn off the oven and let the meringue rest in the oven for some 4-5 hours or so, or overnight. Store them at room temperature in a clean and dry container.

The lemon curd and the meringue is best done a day ahead or at least 4-5 hours ahead of serving because the lemon curd has to be chilled and the meringue has to rest once it has been baked. To assemble the dessert, whip the cream with confectionar's sugar and vanilla extract/vanillin sugar until stiff peaks, ahead before serving and keep it covered and refrigerated until needed. Assemble the dessert in 6 wine glasses, by first placing whipped cream at the bottom of the serving glass. Even out the layer of whipping cream around the edges, so that the lemon curd doesn't sink through the holes to the bottom. Spoon in a small layer of lemon curd over it. Crush the meringue cookies and spread on top of the lemon curd (this will turn out a little messy). Repeat the process until you have lemon curd on the topmost layer (I noticed that it was difficult to make the lemon curd "stay" there. I would probably skip this step next time). Alternatively, you could also place the cream in a piping bag and pipe it out on top and keep it as the topmost layer. Garnish with fruits and/or berries, I served mine with physalis/ground cherries. For more variation, you could also layer with some crumbled pound cake and/or fruits, you could layer pound cake between the cream and the lemon curd. Serve immediately and cold!


Vimitha Anand said...

That parfait looks awesome... Tangy n zingy

Amy's piece of cake said...

Älskar dina bilder vännen! De är grymt fina och ja tack, det här goda säger jag absolut inte nej till! :)

Aha, E-tuna... där tror jag att det finns några indier som familjen känner.

Tack fina för dina fina kommentarer inne hos mig. Blir glad av dom. Jodå, jag har bara bloggat i ett år kram!

Lizzy Do said...

Wow. Stunning photos! Your jars of curd would be such a beautiful gift...and I also love your dessert! I never can get my layers to look so well done!

Rathai said...

Thank you for your compliments and kind words, Vimitha, Amy and Lizzy.

mjskit said...

Your photos are absolutely breathtaking!!! Making lemon curd is on my list for the fall. Thanks for this post!

Rathai said...

Thank you, MJ. I'm glad it's on your to-do list because it's really delicious. :) It will take some time to cook the lemon curd because it has to be cooked over simmering water but the end result is completely worth it. :)

Hamaree Rasoi said...

I am so happy to find your page...Love the details you provide in your each post. and Gorgeous clicks...I am yet to gather courage to make lemon curd

Bharathy said...

man! what a recipe! waht pictures!! have no words to compliment!
and if I am right I had heard that cute fruit called Kuthalingai (tamil) when i was kid.had never come acros one until then.

So you live in Sweden. Missed to meet you :( ...we were holidaying in scandinavia the whole past month!!

Bharathy said...

Thanx girl :)..your pictures are winners!! should be sending for dmblgit as well.... esp ladoo and lemon curd happa romba super!!

Rathai said...

Hamaree Rasoi and Bharathy, thanks a million for your generous comments. They made my day. :)

Tharisi said...

Your blog is like a beautiful magazine! With the pictures being out of this world- I am intimidated to try the recipe. ;)

Rathai said...

Oh no, Tharisi, please don't be. :) I know you are new to cooking but to be honest, so am I. I know you can pull this off girl. ;)

Curry and Comfort said...

Rathai... so nice to meet you!! Wow!! Your blog and photos are stunning!! I joined your blog so I will be able to keep enjoying your posts. ~ Ramona

Rathai said...

Thank you, Ramona. I'm following you too.

Hovkonditorn said...

Wow, this looks delicious and your pictures are beautiful!

Javelin Warrior said...

On Fridays, I share my favorite food finds in a series called Food Fetish Friday - and I love this post so I'm featuring it as part of today's roundup (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and thanks so much for inspiring me...

kankana said...

I love anything citrusy and specially lemon curd. Love the photos specially the first shot .. it's brilliant!

Rathai said...

Thank you so much, Katarina.


It's an honour for me to be featured in your Food Fetish Friday series. Thanks for including me. :)

Kankana, thanks. Coming from you, that means a lot to me.

Reva said...

Wow Rathai... this looks amazing.. Your photography looks superb and sense of style is very unique..
Its been a while since I've visited your blog ..
Rathai, you are an amazing cook and a wonderful photographer ..
Keep it up..:))

Rathai said...

Thank you, Reva, for your heart-warming words. They mean the world to me. In fact, you are and were one of my earliest inspirations and to hear those encouraging words come from a dynamic blogger like you is very humbling. Thank you. :)

Amy's piece of cake said...

Sant vännen, en härlig skogspromenad nu i höstvädret är perfekt! Brukar du hitta någon kantarell? Här hittas inget sådant, kram!

Love and other Spices said...

Thanks dear for visiting my blog.I was so glad to see your comment.And when I came to visit your blog I was awed.You really have improved.Keep it up.Your photos are awesome ! We really should keep in touch. Are you on FB or twitter ?

Bharathy said...

had been on and off here and disappointed to see no updations :(

I know it becomes strenous for well handled 'poetry posts' like your, rathai, but pls post at least once a week...

A blogger who writes from-the-heart understands perfectly her blogger pal who encourages her, with her- from-the-heart comments as well! Thanks a bunch for making my day, girl!

See u soon with your new poem!

Senka I said...


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Javelin Warrior said...

I'm dropping by because one or more photographs from this blog has been previously featured in the weekly Food Fetish Friday series on my blog. In order to continue featuring your photos as part of Food Fetish Fridays, I will need your authorization. Please read my recent post regarding this subject and email me with any questions: Thanks so much and I hope to continue to feature your photos... said...

Missing your recipes ;)

Amy's piece of cake said...

Hej och tack för fin kommentar inne hos mig min vän. Glömde ju bort att svara på din fråga... jag, Navratrifirandet var i Jönköping :) Hur är allt med dig? Saknar dina fina recept och foton, hoppas på ett inlägg snart. Stor varm kram!

M D said...

That's beautiful! Love those cute layers!

Mahi said...

More than the recipe, I like you compilation with stunning photos! Good job Rathai! :)

Rathai said...

Thank you everyone for leaving your valuable comments here. I really appreciate each and every one of them. :) Thanks for visiting.

Hari Chandana said...

Wowwwwwww... Stunning photography.. First time here.. Happy to follow your blog :)

saffronstreaks said...

Just cant take my eyes off your pictures. STUNNING ! Love every shot and oh boy you write such a detailed post on lemon curd, great job.
You have an amazing blog. happy to follow you.