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Lemon Curd (c)2012

With the arrival of spring and her warm, breezy days, I begin to crave the sunny, tart flavor of lemons. Easter weekend awakened my sweet tooth, and I’m in the mood to bake. Flowering trees hold the promise of fresh fruit, but it’s not time yet for the juicy stone fruits of summer. That’s okay, because we’ve got lemons to get us through. Here at la Domestique, we’re making lemons into bright yellow jars of buttery lemon curd destined for meringue pies, tarts, cakes, or simply slathered over toast and served with a cup of tea.

Lemon curd is a mixture of eggs, sugar, butter, and lemons (juice and zest) stirred in a pot on the stovetop over medium heat until thickened and spreadable. Kept in a clean jar, lemon curd will last for a week in the fridge, or process jars of lemon curd in a water bath and store for a month in the pantry (refrigerate once opened). In The Craft of Baking, Karen Demasco writes, “Lemon curd is most often thought of as a tart filling. Reconsider it as more of an all-purpose ingredient, however, and the possibilities for enjoying this tangy topping quickly grow.” This week at la Domestique, we’ll explore the many ways to use lemon curd in sweet spring treats.

I’ve come across endless recipes for lemon curd, and they all read pretty much the same, yielding slightly different quantities. My suggestion is to choose a recipe from a trusted source based on the ingredients you have on hand (aka, what’s convenient for you). For example, I’ve used the recipe for lemon curd from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook because it calls for 8 egg yolks (rather than the 10 egg yolks required in Sarabeth’s Bakery). I just didn’t want to use 10 eggs. Also, some recipes demand the curd be cooked in a double boiler (a heat-proof bowl set atop a pot of simmering water), but I don’t think it’s really necessary unless you are prone to burning things on the stovetop. The curd can be cooked over medium heat in a pot on the stove as long as you stir constantly and watch for signs of curdling, reducing the heat if necessary. Use a fine-mesh strainer to remove any lumps once the curd is cooked. Lemon curd needs at least an hour to chill in the fridge, where it will thicken and set. Make sure to press plastic wrap onto the surface of the chilling curd to prevent it from forming a skin.

One more thing to note is that lemon curd is made with mostly yolks. Cold eggs are easier to separate yolks from white without breaking the yolk. All those egg whites can be refrigerated for about 3 days or frozen for a month. Use leftover egg whites to make a meringue.

Tomorrow, join me for 10 Ways Tuesday, where I’ll have creative recipes for cooking with lemon curd. In the meantime, check out my favorite recipe for Lemon Curd from Martha Stewart.

Have you made lemon curd? Share your tips and ideas in the comments section. Click Here.