Lemon curd is a delicious spread to put on toast, but also a great ingredient in baking such as for tarts and on pavlova. Slightly sweet with a fantastic lemon zing, it's easy and delicious!
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I first shared this recipe a number of years ago when fruit curds seemed to be relatively unknown in the US. It has been so nice to see them grow in popularity in the years since, as they really are delicious.
Lemon curd is appears to be the 'original' curd, dating back to the 19th century, apparently. However originally it didn't look very much like modern versions but was instead truer to the 'curd' name or the 'lemon cheese' name since that's in many ways what it was.
These days, however, a fruit curd is a smooth spread made with lemon or other citrus juice, butter, sugar and eggs. It's rich, flavorful and delicious.
Homemade versus store-bought
You can buy ready-made lemon curd in the supermarket, including in the US. However it doesn't taste anything like a homemade version. I often think it tastes like it has been thickened with cornstarch which it shouldn't. The texture doesn't seem quite right either.
Plus bought versions just don't taste lemony enough to me and are often too sweet. I like to make it with just enough, but not too much, sugar so you get the full flavor of the lemon.
Uses for lemon curd
When I say it's good in baking, it really has a lot of possibilities. Some ideas to get you started:
- Spread on pavlova before adding whipped cream.
- Used as a filling in a layer cake or macarons.
- Piped into mini tarts and pastries as a topping
- I also use some in my lemon almond cupcakes with add a lovely burst of flavor and squidgy middle.
- You can also use it as the filling for a tarte au citron, just bake it slightly to firm up further.
But even if you don't get round to baking, it is so quick to make and makes a great addition to yogurt or dabbed on meringues. And, as I say, it's great on toast, muffins and for example cinnamon bread.
I love having some in the fridge for as and when and so a relatively small quantity like this is just perfect for that. If you are baking with it, you might want to make a larger quantity, depending on what you need it for (especially if you want some extra to use as a spread).
Lemon curd's color is so bright and fresh which is just like the flavor as well. Since you only need a few minutes to make it, you're not exactly losing much by giving it a go. And there's so much tastiness to enjoy if you do! If you like lemon flavor, it's the perfect way to enjoy them that bit more.
Try these other jams and spreads:
- Blueberry curd
- Strawberry raspberry jam
- Mango jam
- Plus get more sauces, jams and condiment recipes in the archives.
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 lemon zest ie from 1 lemon
- ¼ cup lemon juice approx 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoon sugar or a little more, to taste
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter cut into small chunks
- Use a bowl for the curd that will rest in a small saucepan without touching the bottom of the pan. Boil water for the pan so that it will come part way up the side of the bowl when it is submerged but without over-flowing.
- Beat together the egg, egg yolk, lemon juice and zest, and sugar in a small bowl. Add the chunks of butter.
- Rest the bowl in the pan of hot water so that the water comes up the side without overflowing from the pan or into the bowl. Simmer over a low heat to keep the water hot. Stir the lemon-butter mixture regularly as the butter melts then constantly as the mixture starts to thicken.
- It's ready when thick enough to stick to the back of a spoon, around 5min. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and transfer to a jar or other container. Strain if you think you may have any stray lumps of egg in the mixture otherwise it's not necessary. You can either use proper canning method, or cover the top of the curd with cling wrap/film until it cools slightly before removing the cling wrap and putting the lid on (it needs to be airtight or it will form a skin).
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This post was first shared in April 2015 and has been updated, primarily with new photos and some additional information.