For the past two weeks, I have been putting lemon curd on top of everything. On scones and on angel food cake and with muffins and on early spring strawberries. And, I’ve just been eating it by the spoonful.
Because really, it’s that good. Homemade lemon curd is something that doesn’t necessarily sound appealing, but Oh. M. Gee. It’s tart and sweet and creamy and rich but light at the same time. It’s the perfect combination of everything you want out of a topping.
Making two angel food cakes last week meant I had A LOT of leftover yolks. I tried to freeze some in an ice cube tray (I haven’t used them yet, so I can’t guarantee that this technique works yet) and others I just had to toss out because what am I really going to do with 24 egg yolks?
But, I did have a fantastic use for five of the yolks: lemon curd. It’s a creamy sauce made of simple ingredients: yolks, sugar, butter, lemon juice and lemon zest.
I used a recipe from Alton Brown, because does he ever make anything that turns out poorly? Maybe. But certainly not this.
I love lemons. They add a bit of freshness to everything, like salads and vegetables and pasta.
My fridge contains a small jar of lemon curd from Trader Joe’s, which I had purchased for topping scones. My mom makes sweet cream scones with assorted toppings, including lemon curd, berries, jam, and fresh whipped cream.
But never homemade lemon curd. Until now. Now, I don’t think either of us really want to buy the jar anymore. Though, sure, it’s tasty. But side by side, you can taste the difference between the four fresh ingredients, versus a few added preservatives.
The recipe is easy. You beat together egg yolks and sugar, then add the lemon zest and juice. Cook it over a double boiler until thick, then take off and whisk in a pat of butter at a time.
And then you savor it.
I don’t know whether my angel food cake or the lemon curd or the farmers’ market strawberries were the most important part of this dessert. Certainly they combined to cause an I-need-seconds type of mindset, because the flavors were fresh, springy, and perfect.
(My mom made lemon curd recently for her own cake, but hers turned out thicker. The solution was adding some of her dinnermate’s homemade limoncello. As if the lemon curd wasn’t perfect enough already, this sounds amazing. I wish I had been at dinner that night!)
Lemon Curd, from Food Network’s Alton Brown
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 lemons, zested and juiced
- 1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled
Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1-inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium size metal bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Measure citrus juice and if needed, add enough cold water to reach 1/3 cup. Add juice and zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth. Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan. (Bowl should be large enough to fit on top of saucepan without touching the water.) Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon. Remove promptly from heat and stir in butter a piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. Remove to a clean container and cover by laying a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.