In honour of the fact that despite the snow and freezing temperatures of the last two weeks our five Black Rock chickens (there used to be six but that is another story – naughty Mr Fox!) are still laying 2-3 eggs each day I made some lemon curd today. I was inspired by my mum who has made batches of this for my dad in recent weeks as he has developed a particular fondness for it, as has my eldest daughter. So I baked another loaf of brown soda bread so that we had something that we could slather it onto when she got home from school – and the combination was very good indeed.
I normally use Mary Berry’s recipe in her excellent The Aga Book, but today I followed Darina Allen’s in her Forgotten Skills of Cooking and I think maybe Mary Berry wins this one. She cooks hers in a bain-marie (a heat-proof bowl over a pan of hot water), whereas Darina Allen suggests doing it directly in a pan over a gentle heat and when you are using an Aga it can be difficult to get a gentle enough heat, even on the simmering plate, without being in danger of having lemon flavoured scrambled eggs. I just managed to avoid this by taking it off the heat periodically and standing it on the cold granite worktop and giving it a good whisk with my balloon whisk. Mary Berry’s technique takes longer but is less hair-raising. However if you have a hob that you can easily control then Darina’s direct heat method will no doubt work very well.
Here is what I did, and it made enough to fill one ex-Bonne Maman conserve jar which previously had 370g of strawberry jam in it:
50g (2oz) butter
zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
100g (40z) caster sugar
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk, beaten
1 or 2 sterile jars (depending on size) – sterilise them by washing well, rinsing with hot water and then placing in a low oven for about 20 minutes. Make sure not to touch the rim or the inside once you have sterilised them.
Either in a saucepan over a direct gentle heat or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (depending on whether you can control your hob enough to give you a gentle heat) melt the butter. Grate the zest of the lemons directly into the butter and squeeze in the juice, using a sieve to catch any stray pips. Add the caster sugar and the beaten eggs. Stir all the while over the gentle heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. If you are using the bain-marie (bowl over water) method this is likely to take about 25 minutes.
Pour the curd into the sterile jar(s) and seal when cool. Keep in the fridge and eat within two weeks.