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Technique of the Week: Lemon Curd

This is the start of a new feature here at the hobby room, Technique of the Week.  I want to take a little time each week to teach you something I think you should know.  I’m going to skip the quirky anecdotes and background stories and get straight to a technique I’ve been using and think you might be able to use, too.
lemon curd | the hobby room diarieslemon curd | the hobby room diaries

This week we’re going to make some fruit curd.  And for anyone wondering, I don’t mean some sort of cheese with fruit flavoring.  Fruit curd is a custard-like fruit spread that is used frequently in tarts and with scones.  I had the occasion to make some lemon curd this week and it’s a lot easier than it seems.  I think you might want to make some because it’s delicious and versatile.

The technique is basically this:

  1. Combine egg yolks and sugar.
  2. Add some fruit juice.
  3. Cook the whole thing over (a) a double boiler or (b) low heat in a non-reactive pan.
  4. Once the curd gets nice and thick (and reaches 170 degrees), stop cooking.
  5. Stir in some butter.
lemon curd | the hobby room diarieslemon curd | the hobby room diaries


lemon curd | the hobby room diarieslemon curd | the hobby room diaries


lemon curd | the hobby room diarieslemon curd | the hobby room diaries


lemon curd | the hobby room diarieslemon curd | the hobby room diaries


Here’s a basic lemon curd that was adapted from Alton Brown’s Lemon Curd recipe that you can find here.  This stuff is GOOD.  Like scraping-the-top-off-some-lemon-bars good.  So are you ready to try something exotic and fancy?  Check out these recipes from Gilt Taste.
Now here’s another twist: for the recipe I was using lemon curd in, I had the need to make it without eggs.  Soooo, here’s a vegan lemon curd for you to try.  This recipe has been adapted from a lemon curd on the blog Angie’s Recipes, which you can find here.
lemon curd | the hobby room diarieslemon curd | the hobby room diaries


lemon curd | the hobby room diarieslemon curd | the hobby room diaries


lemon curd | the hobby room diarieslemon curd | the hobby room diaries
Vegan curd has a lot less fat and fewer calories (no eggs, no butter) and is still delicious.  This curd tastes like what you might find in a lemon meringue pie.  Yum.  The technique is almost the same, but instead of using eggs to thicken the curd, we will use a corn starch slurry.
Lemon Curd (regular and vegan)

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 2 cups curd

Lemon Curd (regular and vegan)


    For regular lemon curd:
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice from 2 to 3 lemons
  • Zest from 2 to 3 lemons
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into eight pieces
  • For vegan lemon curd:
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice from 3 to 5 lemons
  • Zest from 3 to 5 lemons
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegan margarine


    Prep the lemons. Remove zest from two lemons, then slice open and juice, straining juice into a liquid measuring cup. Continue with additional lemons until you reach 1/3 to 2/3 cups total (depending on which recipe you are using). If you don’t have enough juice and have no more lemons, add either cold water or other citrus juice to make up the difference.
    For regular lemon curd:
  • Place a saucepan with an inch of water inside over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
  • Meanwhile, in a metal or heat-proof glass bowl, place egg yolks and sugar and whisk until well combined and lightened in color. Stir in the lemon juice and zest and thoroughly combine.
  • Set the bowl over the simmering water, reduce the heat to medium, and start to cook the egg mixture.
  • The mixture needs to reach 170 degrees and depending on the bowl, the pan, and how your range heats it could take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. The mixture will get quite thick after a while and you can tell the curd is done if it thickly coats the back of a spoon.
  • Remove the bowl from the pan and begin stirring in the butter, adding a piece only after the previous piece is fully melted and incorporated.
  • For the vegan lemon curd:
  • Put juice, zest, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat and whisk to combine.
  • In a small bowl dissolve corn starch in the cold water, and then stir in the coconut milk.¬¬
  • Once no sugar granules remain in the lemon juice mixture, slowly stir in the corn starch mixture.
  • Whisk as the mixture continues to cook. Once bubbles start forming on the surface, cook three minutes more until the curd is quite thick, whisking all the while.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the margarine.
  • For both curds:
  • Once the butter or margarine is added, remove the curd to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the surface so a skin does not form. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate one hour before using. Lemon curd will keep refrigerated and covered for up to two weeks.


To get a juicier lemon, pick lemons that feel heavy for their size. The number of lemons you need depends entirely upon the size and juiciness, so buy more than you think you might need just to be safe. !A word on the bowl you use for regular lemon curd: pick a bowl that will easily sit in the top of your saucepan, but not touch the water.

!The lemon curd recipe was adapted from Alton Brown’s Lemon Curd and can be found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/lemon-curd-recipe2/index.html

!The vegan lemon curd recipe was adapted from Angie’s Recipes “Vegan Lemon Curd Thumbprints” found here: http://angiesrecipes.blogspot.com/2012/02/vegan-lemon-curd-thumbprints.html

Here are the recipes for both regular and vegan lemon curd, together on one recipe card, just click the print button and make it whenever the mood strikes.


Happy cooking,


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