When Meyer lemons are in season, recipes for lemon curd seem to be everywhere – in magazines, cooking shows and blogs, and every other place you can imagine. It’s citrus season and curds are a natural way to preserve the goodness. A good grapefruit curd is a treat, and satsuma and tangerine are eye-popping in both color and sweet tart Creamsicle goodness. But, Meyer lemon’s herbal tones match beautifully with the rich egginess of curd in a way that Eureka lemons, and the rest of those citrus just can’t muster.
Don’t let the citrus season go without making some lemon curd. If you have time, try some other versions, but really, your pantry should not be without lemon curd. You can make curd in about an hour, from start to finish. It keeps in the refrigerator for a month or more, and freezes beautifully in pint and half pint jars. A dozen eggs will make two pints of curd.
When making curd, each and every lemon should be zested and juiced. To zest properly, pull the rasp across the peel just once, not back and forth. You want to avoid the white, bitter pith. Make a big pile of zest. And measure all the juice, straining out the seeds.
After you’ve measured out the zest for the curd, take whatever zest is leftover and rub it into some sugar. Keep the lemon sugar in a jar and use it for baking.
And then… there will be a cup of egg whites, but we’ll get to that… first….
What to do with that lemon curd, beyond eating it from the jar, that is. Stir it into plain yogurt. Fill a layer cake. Serve with cream scones. Make a trifle with pound cake, jam, berries and lemon curd. Fill crepes. Oh, heck, just dip that spoon into the jar. I won’t tell.
You should certainly make lemon squares. I’ve been stirring up lemon curd cookies since college, and would guess some of you have, too. Having lemon curd on hand, in a jar, means these simple, exquisite, sensational cookies can be on the table in under an hour with only one bowl to clean.
This is a cookie that does not want you to use the mixer. Shortbread benefits from being hand made and entire folk legends have been written about the talents of Scottish shortbread makers.
Both flour and sugar must be passed through a sieve, to preserve the tender texture of the angel food cake. The lemon zest, after sitting in the sugar overnight, passed right through the fine mesh, adding lemon flavor to the cake without using extract.
Folding in the sugar and then the flour by hand ensures you won’t lose that nice air you just beat into the egg whites.
I love this Lemon Curd recipe from Leite’s Culinaria.
Lemony Angel Food Cake
My mother’s recipe
1-1/4 c. egg whites, at room temperature (about nine eggs)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
1-1/2 c sifted sugar, flavored with 2 tsp lemon zest and left overnight
1 c cake flour, passed through a sieve or a sifter three times
Preheat the oven to 325
Beat the egg whites until foamy, then add the salt, cream of tartar and vanilla and beat until stiff, but not dry, peaks form.
Fold in the sugar 1/4 c at a time.
Fold in the flour 1/4 c at a time.
Spoon into a tube pan, then smooth the top.
Bake for 1 hour until the top is browned.
Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then invert for two hours, or until cool.
(Invert on a bottle, or if your pan has feet, just rest on the feet above a plate.)
Shortbread Lemon Bars
adapted from the Joy of Cooking
one 9 x 9 square pan, 16 cookies
5 oz unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature or even slightly cooler
2 T sugar
3 T confectioners sugar
1-1/4 c flour
1 pint lemon curd
Preheat oven to 325°
Prepare a 9″ square baking sheet by lining with parchment paper
In a large bowl, add the butter, add the sugar, confectioners sugar and flour. Using the tips of your fingers and working quickly, pinch the butter into the sugar and flour until it’s all the consistency of pebbly pea sized dough.
Press the dough into the baking pan.
Bake for 30 minutes until just slightly browned on the edges.
Pour the lemon curd over the top (no need to cool the base), reduce the oven temperature to 300°, and cook for 10 minutes more.
Cool on a rack. Sprinkle confectioners sugar over the top, cut into squares and serve.
Store in an airtight container in layers separated by wax paper. Refresh the confectioners sugar before serving.