I have just looked back at my post on lemon curd and realised that I wrote it four years ago! Blimey, time flies. I do love lemon curd and so I thought it about time I tried a different flavour. Orange curd is much sweeter than its lemon counterpart and has a richer taste. I have been eating it on my mid-morning toast but it would be good in a tart or in a twist on the lemon meringue.
The recipe I have used is just an adaptation on my lemon curd one, using two medium-sized oranges. However, I have been rereading my copy of Peter Brears’ Traditional Food in Shropshire with its interesting history of the cooking techniques and recipes of my home county. One of the recipes Peter includes is for orange or lemon cheese, which is curd by another name. It is a treat mentioned in Mary Webb’s Seven for a Secret when Gillian Lovekin is trying to win the heart of Robert Rideout by serving him a tea which she hopes will steal his heart.
She set the table with the best china, brought out cranberry jelly, new bread, lemon cheese, visitor’s tea. She put on her best frock, put up her hair, and picked a scarlet geranium from the window to wear in it. She would be as gay, as pretty and as kind as she could. It wasn’t nice of her father to tell him he was only a cowman. And perhaps, if she looked really pretty, Robert would kiss her!
Mary Webb, 1922, Seven for a Secret, p.48
Spoiler alert- it takes a while but she eventually gets her way.
Because oranges and lemons were expensive, the flesh would have been eaten and the peel used to make the orange or lemon cheese. The peel would be simmered in a pan of water for about an hour until tender and then pulverised until smooth and this would then have been added to the sugar, egg yolks and butter. I have promised myself to try the recipe this way when I have finished the last of this batch. It sounds like a good alternative to making candied peel with the leftovers from marinated oranges.
In the meantime here is the recipe for the curd in the photo.
225g caster sugar
2 medium-sized oranges, zest and juice
5 egg yolks or 3 whole eggs, beaten
You can make this in a pan over a gentle heat, if you are brave, or you can make it in a bowl standing over a pan of simmering water. The latter takes longer but the former is more likely to end up with scrambled eggs. I prefer the latter so put the butter and sugar in a heat-proof bowl and stand it over the simmering water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir until the butter has melted. Add the finely grated zest of the orange along with the juice and the eggs. Stir well and continue to stir regularly until the mixture thickens. This might take 20 to 25 minutes. It will thicken more as it cools. Pour into sterilised jars, seal and when cool keep in the fridge.