Lemon Curd

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Lemon curd magically derives from a simple mixture of fresh lemon juice, butter, egg yolks and sugar–a sprinkling of salt enhances. This is my recipe for that deep yellow yumminess, so good on scones or filled into doughnuts. But I also love Hoosier Mama baker Paula Haney’s idea of adding a little gelatin and then beating the heck out of the curd turning it a lighter yellow and aerating it so when it chills, you have a fluffy filling that works amazingly well as the bottom layer of a lemon meringue pie. Directions for both lemon curd variations, follow.

Makes 2 1/2 cups

Lemon Curd Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2  sticks unsalted butter (that’s 1 Tbsp butter for each egg yolk)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt flakes or fresh ground salt, or a little more to taste
  • Optional add (for firmer, more-aerated lemon curd): 1 sheet leaf gelatin

Instructions

  1. Juice the lemons. Cube the butter into a small, heavy sauce pan and begin melting over medium heat. Add sugar and lemon juice and whisk until the butter and sugar are melted. Heat just to boiling. Remove from heat. Set aside.
  2. If you want to make the thicker/lighter-colored more aerated lemon curd include this step: snip the leaf gelatin sheet into a bowl of cold water and let sit.
  3. In a separate, heatproof bowl, whisk egg yolks until well combined. Slowly add a small amount of the hot lemon-sugar mixture into the yolks, whisking as you pour. Continue to dribble the hot mixture into the yolks, whisking as you go, until the two mixtures are fully combined. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Turn heat to medium and continue whisking until the mixture thickens, but is not boiling. Remove from heat.
  4. If using the gelatin:  remove the softened gelatin from the water and squeeze out the water. Add the gelatin into the hot curd and whisk to incorporate.
  5. Press the curd through a mesh strainer or china cap.
  6. Here you have a choice, depending on if you want the regular, deep yellow curd, or the aerated, light yellow curd. For the deep yellow version: Cool the curd to room temperature and pour into jars to refrigerate and you’re done! OR for the more aerated, lighter-yellow version, pour the warm curd into the bowl of a stand mixer and with the wire whisk attachment, whip on low until mixture is room temperature. Then turn mixer to high and whip until mixer bowl is cool. Once finished, pour into a pie shell and top with meringue, OR, refrigerate and use as you wish. If you stir the aerated lemon curd after it chills and sets, it will maintain the light yellow color, but return to a smooth, creamy, spreadable consistency.

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