Lemon Curd

Last week I couldn’t help but wonder why we cook. Loads of blogs and magazines and books are simply assuming that we want to cook all by ourselves. And that we want to cook everything all the time.
Don’t get me wrong, mostly I am very happy to cook, but some days I just want to collapse on the couch, face down into a glass of wine and a bar of chocolate, much rather than to install a feast of chopping and dirty dishes in the kitchen.

Nevertheless I do find myself wanting to cook, and almost being obsessed with being able to basically make anything edible.
Then again, why? Is it the part where I get to stirr into a pan glassy eyed? Is cooking at the end of a day the modern day equivalent of staring into a fire pit after a day of hunting? Is it because I instinctively feel the need to take care of my hungry new cohabitator (!)?

I suppose that for me dinner at home feels like the biggest possible reward at the end of the day. Question remains when I am typing this, what reward I mean. To be honest, I don’t know.
What I do know, is that dinner in pyjamas (sorry I am not sorry), accompanied by a candle, some nice music and Anton is the most relaxing thing in the world.

But what rings true, and what I got reminded of this weekend again, is that some things simply can’t be bought. The quality (and quantities) that home-cooking provides, can’t be mirrored in most cases. And with that I mean for example a big pan of homemade soup, tasty fresh big cakes or this lemon curd. Regardless of the possible economic advantages, lemon curd is not for sale here in Germany.

Nevertheless, all the ingredients are widely available, and even though, admittedly, the process will take some patience and effort, nothing is in your way to make one huge amount (not kidding;) of yellow happiness.

Lemon Curd
Makes around a liter (!) of Lemon Curd. I accidentily threw half of it next to my preserving glass, so I wasn’t able to precisely measure.

  • 6 large (unwaxed) lemons, zest and juice
  • 400 grams of sugar
  • 6 eggs, both whites and yolks*
  • 250 grams of butter
  • 2 large pinches of salt

In a large pan, boil the lemon juice together with the zest, salt and sugar until all has fully bubbled for five minutes.
Add the butter and turn of the heat. The reason to turn off the heat is to let the butter melt and at the same time cool the lemon juice and sugar to a lower temperature.
Leave it until all does not feel hot but you can easily stick a finger in the mixture without it feeling warmer than body temperature.
Then, while whisking, either with a whisk or a spatula, add the eggs. The heat should still be off (to prevent all becoming lemon scrambled eggs).**
Once all is mixed thoroughly, turn on a slight heat, really the lowest heat you can find.
While the mixture is slowly heated, be sure to keep stirring the mixture. There is no need to whip air into the mixture, but just don’t give the eggs any chance to become scrambled pieces.
Once the mixture becomes hot, you will notice that the texture of the curd changes. Instead of thin, it will become more glossy and a little thicker. This is the moment to move the pan from the stove.
A lot of recipes are talking about different measures on how to know whether the curd has reached the right consistency. I have found these recipes very confusing and would advise to trust on your instinct. Does the mixture look like a normal custard and is it shiny and does it give a little resistence to your spatula? Perfect.
Do you see bits of cooked egg in your curd? That is perfectly possible. Just take out a sieve and take your curd through it. The downfall is that you will most likely loose the nicely candied lemon zest with it, but your curd is still perfectly useable.
Sterilize a large jar (or various smaller jars) by putting them under or in boiling water and not touching it on the inside.
Pour the lemon curd into the jar and let it cool down. Once the curd cools down, it will have reached the desirable texture.
This is best enjoyed on bread, ice cream, in a cake (like this one or this one) or by the spoonful. Enjoy!

*Most recipes rely on solely egg yolks to make lemon curd. It will reduce the risk of the lemon curd curdling, but I took the risk and think it makes a smoother and richer end product. Feel free to adapt, and maybe use an egg more in case you decide to not use the egg whites.

**Alternative options involve water baths, and I truly believe all this extra work can be avoided as long as you let the mixture get to temperature slowly.

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