Lemon curd is an absolute staple in the pastry kitchen. It can be used as a base for fruit tarts, a filling for cakes or scones, and can be turned into a quick lemon mousse. It can even be made into ice cream! Lemon curd is definitely one of the 5 recipes everyone should master.
by volume by weight
6 egg yolks 108 grams egg yolks
1 cup sugar 198 grams sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice 120 grams lemon juice
4 ounces soft butter 113 grams soft butter
Mix the yolks and sugar together. ( For my purposes, I divided the recipe in half so only 3 yolks in the picture below.)
Make sure you mix them completely as soon as you put them together.
If you allow the egg yolks to sit unmixed with the sugar, the sugar pulls the water from the egg and leaves hard little bits of yolk that are impossible to deal with. Just whisk them together thoroughly so you can’t see any more bits of white sugar and everything will be fine! Add the lemon juice and mix to combine.
There are two ways to cook lemon curd. It can be done over a double boiler and will take 20 to 25 minutes but it will prevent any kind of scorching. The second way ( and the way that is described here) is cooked directly on the stovetop, takes 7 to 8 minutes, but has the ability to scorch.
SO, place the mixture over medium heat and whisk constantly. As you whisk, a foam will form on the top of the liquid because of the air you are incorporating. This is fine — just keep whisking.
After 6 to 7 minutes, the curd will start to thicken and the foam will disappear. The curd will become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but will still be pourable. At this point, remove from the stove and continue whisking for a minute or two.
The bottom of the pan is still very hot and if you stop whisking immediately there is still a danger of scorching, so just whisk a bit to cool the mixture slightly.
Now, I like to wait until the mixture is almost completely cool and then whisk in the butter. In French this is called “monte au beurre”, literally “assembled with butter”. This provides a lovely velvety texture to the curd. However, you can also whisk in the butter as soon as the mixture is removed from the stove and you will still have a lovely, smooth lemon curd.
Cool the curd completely and store covered in the refrigerator. Because of the high acidity of the lemon curd it keeps well and can be stored for several days in the refrigerator. Use freely and liberally to give a delicious citrus tang to your pastries.
This basic recipe can also be used to make many different flavors of curd. That’s why I consider this one of the 5 recipes everyone should master. Substitute grapefruit, orange, lime, passion fruit, mango, raspberry — the list goes on and on! Mastering this one recipe provides you with an endless array of flavors and textures for all your pastries.