Smooth, creamy lemon curd is a versatile topping or filling for so many desserts (see below for inspiration). You can spread it on cookies, between cake layers, use it to fill tarts or trifles, the possibilities are really endless. And though it’s very simple to make, it has a reputation to be tricky and prone to curdling or scrambling. In this video, you’ll learn an unusual method for making lemon curd that’s guaranteed to be so silky and smooth, and you won’t even need to strain it.
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Most lemon curd recipes involve cooking sugar, lemon juice, and beaten eggs until the mixture thickens, then whisking in pieces of butter bit by bit. It’s an easy method, except you do run the risk of ending up with little bits of cooked and scrambled egg, which ruins the smooth texture. In fact, most recipes have you strain the finished curd to remove these little bits of egg.
This method prevents those curdled bits from even forming, so you don’t need to strain it at all. The trick is to combine your ingredients as if you were baking a cake.
You start off with 6 Tbs. of soft, room temperature butter, and cream together with 1 cup of sugar. After beating it for 2 minutes, slowly add 2 whole eggs, and 2 egg yolks. Beat that for another minute until the eggs are well incorporated.
Next, add some lemon juice—2/3 cup freshly squeezed, and give it a quick mix. At this point, your mixture will look pretty curdled, but it’ll smooth out once it starts cooking.
Put the mixture into a medium saucepan over low heat. You’ll see it start to smooth out as the butter melts.
Once it’s smooth, raise the heat to medium, and cook it, stirring constantly, until the curd thickens. It’ll take about 15 minutes.
The reason this method works so well is that by adding the butter earlier on, you’re surrounding the protein molecules with fat, which helps prevent them from coagulating into little hard bits once the acid from the lemon juice is introduced.
As you’re stirring, be sure to get into the corners of the pan, because that’s one place where the curd can overcook if it’s not stirred and scraped up often. And you never want to let the curd come to a boil.
You know your curd is done when you can run a finger across the back of your spoon and it holds a trail in the curd. It’s okay if it’s a little looser than you want it—it will continue to thicken as it cools.
Take the lemon curd off the heat, and stir in a teaspoon of grated lemon zest for another little punch of citrus, but if you want a super-smooth texture, it’s okay to leave it out—it’ll still be plenty lemony.
Scrape the lemon curd into a bowl to cool, and put a piece of plastic wrap right down on the surface of the curd—this prevents it from forming a skin on top as it cools.
Once covered, put the curd in the fridge to chill. The result is a tangy, tart and sweet curd, with fantastic lemon texture, and the smoothest texture of any lemon curd you’ll ever taste.