Homemade Lemon Curd Recipe

Yields: About 1 – 1 ½ cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 4-5 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

Equipment

  • Medium saucepan
  • Heatproof bowl (if using a double boiler)
  • Whisk
  • Fine-mesh sieve
  • Glass jar or container for storage

Instructions:

1. Zest and juice the lemons:

  • Wash and zest the lemons before juicing them. You’ll need enough for both the zest and the full cup of juice.

2. Prepare a double boiler (optional but recommended):

  • Fill a saucepan with about 1-2 inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.
  • If you’re using a double boiler, place the heatproof bowl over the simmering water, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

3. Combine ingredients (except the butter):

  • Saucepan method: Combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, salt, and egg yolks in the medium saucepan.
  • Double boiler method: Combine the ingredients listed above in the heatproof bowl set over the simmering water.

4. Cook the curd:

  • Saucepan method: Whisk constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 10-15 minutes). Watch carefully and don’t let the mixture boil, as this can curdle the eggs.
  • Double boiler method: Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, following the same guidelines as above. The double boiler method is gentler and may help prevent curdling.

5. Test for doneness:

The best way to ensure the curd is cooked is to check the temperature with a thermometer. It should reach 170°F (77°C).

If you don’t have a thermometer, look for the following signs:

  • The mixture coats the back of a spoon without running off.
  • Slow bubbles will be forming around the edges of the pan

6. Remove from heat and add butter:

  • Immediately remove the pan or bowl from the heat.
  • Whisk in the cubes of cold butter one at a time until completely incorporated. The butter will give the curd a rich texture and glossy finish.

7. Strain the curd:

  • Pour the curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean glass jar or container. This will remove any cooked egg bits or zest for a perfectly smooth consistency.

8. Cool and store:

  • Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the lemon curd to prevent a skin from forming.
  • Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. The lemon curd will thicken more as it chills.

Tips:

  • Fresh lemons are key: Freshly-squeezed lemon juice yields the best flavor. Avoid bottled juice for optimal results.
  • Whisk constantly: This is essential for a smooth curd and to prevent the eggs from curdling.
  • Low and slow: Cook the curd on a gentle heat setting, never allowing it to boil.
  • Variations: Experiment by adding a touch of vanilla extract or other citrus like oranges or limes.

Uses for Lemon Curd:

  • Spread on toast, scones, or muffins
  • Filling for tarts and pastries
  • Swirled into yogurt or ice cream
  • Topping for pancakes and waffles

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