Lemon Curd should be a standby recipe in all kitchens! With lemons available all year, it’s quick & easy to make any time, and really is so much more than the sum of its parts. Eggs, sugar, fresh lemons, and butter, combine into what is known as a professional, pastry kitchen basic.
Tart, sweet, and bursting with the pleasant zing of fresh lemon, a few minutes of meditative whisking on the stove is all it takes, to make this classic dessert. There are as many recipes for Lemon Curd as there are cooks, each with the same ingredients, some with differing amounts. Some include butter (some lots of it!) and others don’t. Some use whole eggs, others just egg yolks, and others a combo of the two. Do what I always say (& do!) and find a recipe that looks good to you. Make it once – watching how it works, taking notes, and adjust the next time you make it – unless of course you find it perfect as it is!
Some recipes say to use a heavy bottomed pot on direct heat, and some say to use a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. If you use the former, don’t walk away, and don’t stop whisking – in other words, lots of TLC – although it will cook faster. If you use the latter it will take a little longer, but it’s the much safer way to go. Perfect for novices, or for those of us that truly enjoy the process of creating with their hands!
Absolutely delightful as is, top with whipped cream for a light, yet grand finale to any meal. If it’s to be served after a heavy meal, (when it would be most welcome) serve it in small portions, using pretty glasses or espresso cups.
To make it Lemon Mousse… fold in some whipped cream, making it lighter in flavour and texture, topping it as you would the basic recipe. Fresh seasonal berries would also be great here!
This Lemon Curd recipe, which started as an adaptation from The Joy of Baking, as been revised, tweaked and further adjusted – after making it many times – using other ideas, including from Bon Appétit. One of the most impressive and easily made desserts, Lemon Curd should become part of your kitchen repertoire. Everyone will thank you for it~
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice (approx 2 - 3 lemons)
- 1/4 cup (4 ounces) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
- *½ cup chilled whipping cream
- Using a fine rasp or grater, grate the zest and set it aside. Cut the lemons in half, and squeeze using a juicer or with your hands. Remove any pits that have fallen in but don’t strain or you’ll lose the bits of pulp that always find their way in; you want to keep these.
- Bring lemon zest, juice, ¼ cup butter, and ¼ cup sugar to a simmer over medium heat in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat.
- Whisk egg yolks, egg, and remaining ¼ cup sugar in a medium bowl until pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly pour, starting as a dribble, the hot lemon mixture into the egg mixture. Place bowl over simmering water in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until curd is thickened approx. 3 - 4 minutes. (Test for doneness by coating the back of a teaspoon, and running your finger down it - the line made by your finger will remain, when it's thick enough). Remove from heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons butter, whisking until melted, and curd is smooth.
- Transfer curd to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto surface. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours and it will thicken considerably. (I make it a day ahead and chill overnight)
- When the curd is chilled, whisk cream in a small bowl to soft peaks and gently fold into curd. Serve as is topped with a dollop of whipped cream, with fresh berries, or use to fill a layer cake, cupcakes, cookie crumb pie shell, etc.
- *Tip: if you're bothered by the small bits of lemon zest, and want the curd ultra smooth, you can strain it after you take it from the heat, and before adding the butter. (To be honest though, I've never had anyone complain!)
- *Most recipes combine all ingredients, then cook all at once. The step of cooking the lemon juice, some sugar & butter beforehand really hastens the cooking time (even over a double boiler) and makes the end result extra fluffy & creamy.