Thursday, December 31, 2009

lemon magic

i learned yesterday of the simple magic that is the transformation of lemons and eggs and sugar into the zesty, smooth creaminess of lemon curd. i settled in with a stack of cookbooks to find inspiration for a quiet new year's meal at home. i wanted something seasonal, not too fancy (i'm still exhausted from the christmas cooking), but which would feel rather fancy and special. so, in that kind of mood, i turned to nigel slater's the kitchen diaries. i turned to the end to see what he did at the end of his year. he too must have been a bit exhausted, as there's no new year's menu in the book, but there, on boxing day, i found a recipe for a passion fruit roulade. nigel uses ready-made lemon curd, but although i was feeling a bit lazy, i wasn't too lazy to contemplate making my own lemon curd (mostly because i figured i'd have to go in to copenhagen to find it).

so i searched a bit in the rest of the stack of cookbooks i'd selected and sure enough, in jam it, pickle it, cure it, there was indeed a lemon curd recipe and it looked dead easy. the hardest part was squeezing 10 lemons and that was my exercise for the day, so even that was ok.

lemon curd

6 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup of sugar
1-1/2 C freshly squeezed lemon juice (10-12 lemons)
150 grams of butter, cut into small pieces
zest of 2 lemons, removed in large pieces with a vegetable peeler.

  1. prepare a clean jar or jars to store it in. my large jar above (i think it holds a 850ml) held the whole batch, save one small bowl of it which i left out (and may have eaten by the naked, delicious spoonful over the course of the evening).
  2. in a large saucepan, with a whisk, beat the whole eggs and egg yolk together thoroughly, then whisk in the sugar and lemon juice. be sure the sugar has completely dissolved before you start to heat it. i actually did this mixing in my kitchen-aid and then transferred it to a pot, but that's because i like the machinery to do the hard work for me.
  3. place the pot over medium heat and gently warm the mixture. after 3 minutes, begin to add the butter, stirring constantly. add the zest pieces as well.
  4. whisk constantly for 7-8 minutes until the butter melts and the mixture becomes very thick.
  5. pour the curd into your prepared jar and let it cool, uncovered. remove the zest and discard. 
  6. store in the refrigerator after it's cooled down. it should be fine in the refrigerator in its jar for at least ten days.
i'm going to use mine in nigel's passion fruit roulade, but you can also slather it on a homemade scone and have it with your tea. i haven't made the roulade yet, so no pictures of it. maybe i'll update later when i've made it.

nigel slater's passion fruit roulade

the cake:

6 large eggs
100 grams sugar
2 lemons
2 heaped tablespoons of flour
powdered sugar for dusting

the filling:

350 grams lemon (or orange) curd
280-300ml whipping cream
12 ripe, wrinkled passion fruits

  1. preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F
  2. line a shallow baking tray (36cm x 30cm) or jelly roll pan with baking paper.
  3. separate the eggs, putting the yolks in one bowl and the whites in your mixer to beat them 'til soft peaks form. add the sugar to the yolks and whisk until they're pale and creamy.
  4. grate the zest from both lemons, then juice them. folk the juice and the zest into the yolk-sugar mixture.
  5. add the flour to the yolk mixture. then fold the entire mixture gently into the egg whites. it's important not to over-mix. 
  6. pour into the lined baking tin, spreading it out to the edges.
  7. bake for ten minutes until the top is very lightly colored and feels softly set. allow it to cool for a few minutes.
  8. put another piece of baking paper down on your work surface, sprinkle it with caster sugar and turn the roulade out onto it. carefully peel away the baking paper from the bottom and discard. cover with a clean tea towel and allow it to cool down.
  9. once it's cool, spread the lemon curd carefully over the surface.
  10. meanwhile, whip the whipping cream until the soft peak stage and then spread it over the curd. cut the passion fruits in half and spread the juice and seeds over the cream. you can reserve a couple of passion fruits to squeeze over before serving.
  11. on the long side, roll it carefully into a roulade. transfer it to a serving dish and dust it with powdered sugar. cut into thick slices and serve.
makes ten servings. edited with the "after" photos....

this will be our dessert this evening for our low-key new year's eve dinner. in addition to it, i'm stuffing a beef roast with a nigella-inspired stuffing of bacon, dried cranberries, garlic, shallots and thyme, making ordinary roasted potatoes and a green salad to go with it. we'll drink a nice amarone and bring in the new year in a very relaxed fashion.

see all that lovely whipped cream/lemon curd/passion fruit there on the side? well, it's not there anymore, thanks to me and my spoon. this is gonna be a good cake.

happy new year to all of you and thank you so much for your comments and sharing your enthusiasm for food since we started this little venture back in september. we look forward to much more cooking in 2010.


Char said...

oh heaven...i love mine with just a plain scone. yum.

or sometimes i do a little mini tart and put a dollop on it.

Anne said...

Oh, I love lemon curd. I rarely make it, but it's so easy that there's little excuse not to. I love putting mine in a tart shell and perhaps scattering some raspberries on top.

This roulade looks delicious. I don't use passion fruit very often--it can be a little hard to find here--but I might have to seek some out and give this a whirl.

Molly said...

When our lemon tree does its thing we makes heaps of lemon curd - can't get enough of it.
Just on toast for breakfast/tea is one of my favourites ..
Your roulade looks divine, happy New Year!

kristina said...

I adore lemon curd--mmm! K x

Bee said...

I always think that lemon curd is one of the magical, science experiment things to make. It is amazing what heat can do to combinations of butter and sugar! We like lemon curd on pancakes . . . a very good New Year's thing, I think.

BTW, I've been suffering from post-Xmas cooking fatigue, too. I'm impressed you made such a nice New Year's dinner.

Magpie said...

That is my kind of dessert. But you know, I think I've never ever seen a passion fruit for sale...

Unknown said...

Off to buy some lemons right now! It's a perfect snowy day for making lemon curd here today - sunshine in a jar!

Unknown said...

Off to buy some lemons right now! It's a perfect snowy day for making lemon curd here today - sunshine in a jar!


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