I'm a sucker for lemon curd. If sunshine had a flavor it would certainly be lemon curd. This very versatile "condiment" can be spread on scones or bread, dolloped on a pound cake, fill a tart shell, or my favorite, simply licked off a spoon.... just another vehicle for the smooth and creamy sunshine.
Commercially made lemon curd doesn't keep well without preservatives and often has thickening agents, so homemade curd is the best way to go. Fortunately, it is very simple to make and tastes so much much better than store bought curd.
In late 19th and early 20th century England, homemade lemon curd, also known as lemon cheese, was traditionally served with scones and crumpets for their afternoon tea in lieu of jam (oh so British). Lemon curd was also known to fill their cakes and tarts as a truly scrumptious treat. It was special and made in small amounts because it didn't keep as well as jam.
I like to use Meyer lemons (when my neighbor's tree is producing fruit). However, unless you live in parts Florida, Texas, or California, don't look for them in your local grocery store because they don't ship well due to their thin skins. Actually, Meyer lemons are a cross between a true lemon and a Mandarin orange and are slightly sweet.... less pucker. Truth be told any luscious lemon will fill the bill when it comes to curd.
The above photo is the point in the recipe when I added the creamed butter to the sugar and lemon zest that had already been minced together in my food processor. Honestly, if I didn't have tarts to make and photograph for this blog, I would have probably stopped there and grabbed a spoon... butter, sugar and lemon zest... nirvana!
I have also made key lime curd (fan-key-tastic) with this recipe and plan on trying orange curd and grapefruit curd.... so stay tuned....
Zest of 3 lemons
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup lemon juice
one pinch kosher salt
Remove the zest of three lemons using a carrot peeler. Put the zest and the sugar in a food processor and pulse until the sugar and zest are finely minced.
In a large bowl, cream the butter. Add the sugar/zest mixture and beat together. Add the eggs, lemon juice and salt and mix together until thoroughly combined.
Pour the mixture into a pan and cook over low heat while stirring constantly for about 8 - 10 minutes or until the curd starts to thicken. Remove from heat and cool. Using a rubber spatula and a sieve, push the curd through the sieve and into a bowl. This makes it very smooth. It will continue to thicken as it cools, especially in the refrigerator. If you are storing in a bowl, put a piece of plastic wrap directly on the curd so it will not form a skin. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
pate sucrée - basic sweet pastry dough
(this recipe makes dough for two 10” tarts or more tartlets)
300 grams flour (2 cups) I like to weigh my flour for more accuracy
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar
14 tablespoons unsalted butter - chopped
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons ice water
In a food processor add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse until combined. Add the chopped butter and pulse until the butter is in small pea sized balls. Add the water and pulse until the dough just comes together.
Put the dough out to a floured surface and make into a large mound and cut in half with a pastry scraper. I like to weigh the halves so that they are equal. Put each half onto a square of wax paper and form into a disk. Wrap with the paper and chill for at least one hour.
If you are freezing at this time, then wrap again in foil and freeze. Let dough defrost in the refrigerator before use.
Roll out dough on a floured surface. If you are using a 10” tart pan roll the dough into a 13" circle. (For tartlets roll the dough out to a 13” circle and cut the dough into smaller circles with a knife using the tartlet pans as a size guide. Go 1” larger than the size of the pan) Place dough into a 10" tart pan and fold the overhang inward and press gently into the sides. Do not force or stretch the dough because a thin spot may cause the filling to leak. The dough edges should be a little bit higher than the side of the tart pan to help prevent shrinkage. Prick the bottom of the shell with your fork. Press a piece of foil (12"x13") into the edges of the shell and cover with the foil completely touching and covering the entire shell. Chill for at least a half an hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Completely fill the foil covered shell with pie weights or dried beans. Put the shell into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven and remove beans and foil. Brush the inside of the shell with a beaten egg white to prevent leakage from small cracks. Return to the oven for about 10 minutes and bake until golden brown. Let cool on wire rack.
The shells are ready to fill.
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