Earlier this summer I was sharing some of the crafts that were included in our DIY wedding (four years ago this summer!). Today we’re sharing yet another wedding-related post, and this one includes lemons, our ingredient of the season!
Since our wedding was such a relaxing, picnic-on-the-farm affair, it would have seemed out of character to serve a traditional, multi-layered cake. Plus, there’s no way that Calder and I could decide on just one flavor! Instead, my mom made three different cakes for the reception, my favorite carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for Calder, and a delicious almond cake with buttercream frosting and lemon and orange curds between the layers. All three were amazing, and it was nice to be able to offer guests options for their dessert.
Our sister, Kristin, made the citrus curds for the cakes, and they were perfect. Just the right consistency and with that bit of tart flavor that paired so well and added a bit of interest to the white cake and buttercream. I asked her what her secret was, and her response : Martha.
Even though I can go through a jar of Trader Joe’s lemon curd in no time, I’ve never tried making my own, assuming that it was fussy and would require too much precision or time (funny since I’m always itching to work on my macarons). But, with lemons as our ingredient of the season, I knew it was time to make a batch, and to my surprise, it couldn’t have been easier!
Following Kristin’s lead, I turned to Martha and made this version (reprinted below). You’ll see that this makes a fairly small batch, which is perfect if you’re the only one eating it in your house, but as far as I can tell, the recipe easily doubles. Kristin sent me a recipe from Martha that was exactly double this one. Although, search “Martha Stewart lemon curd”, and you’ll come up with a number of variations. This recipe’s size is more than double the one I’m sharing, and it includes salt, which would be a nice addition to the recipe below. This recipe is the exact same size as the one I just linked to, but here she has you add the butter to the saucepan while it’s cooking (something that the other recipes did not do). There seems to be some flexibility in both the proportion of the ingredients and the technique used to make it.
Bottom line : don’t stress and just make a batch.
- 3 large egg yolks
- zest of 1/2 lemon (I used the zest of a whole lemon since mine seemed small)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (don't use bottled lemon juice)
- 6 Tbsp sugar
- 4 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces
- Whisk together the yolks, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Cook the mixture over medium heat stirring constantly and making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan. Continue cooking for about 5-7 minutes or until it's thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, and begin adding the butter, one piece at a time. Continue stirring with the wooden spoon until the butter melts and the curd's consistency is smooth.
- Pour the curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl or jar for storage. Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to stop a skin from forming as it cools.
- Refrigerate until completely cool before serving.
Want to make orange curd? Just substitute the lemon juice and zest for orange juice and zest, and you’re welcome to use bottled orange juice.
If you’ve never had lemon curd before, it has a sweet and tart lemon flavor and the consistency of a really thick pudding (I think that’s the best way to describe it?). I like to spread my lemon curd over toast with butter, but it’s commonly used in a variety of desserts. You could put it between the layers of a cake as we did for the wedding. Use it to fill a tart shell. Serve a dollop over ice cream. Stir it into some cottage cheese for a mid-day snack. Eat it by the spoonful.