As promised earlier this week, today I am sharing a recipe for my Super Duper Simple Lemon Curd, the one that makes everything better. 😉
Both of my boys love lemon cake and always request it for their birthday cakes, much to the dismay of their sister who is not a fan of lemon. Although, comet to think if it she does like lemonade and lemon muffins and lemon thumbprints, so I’m not sure she actually dislikes lemon . . . . I guess she’s just not a fan of the lemon cake that is requested year after year after year.
Don’t worry, not only does she always get her favorite chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling on her birthday, I also make up a batch of chocolate cupcakes so that she can enjoy the festivities with us with a treat more to her liking.
But, back to the cake . . . .
Other than requesting a flavor and a theme, it is pretty much left up to me to decided on the exact shape of the cake, as well as the frosting and filling. I am a firm believer that the filling in a cake should be different than the frosting.
Can we talk about frosting for a minute? I’m kind of a take it or leave it kind of girl. I do love a homemade chocolate buttercream or a thick and creamy cream cheese frosting (that so far I have been unable to duplicate at home, probably because of some mystery ingredient I am afraid to know about it). I also like a whipped cream frosting. But, generally, I find most frosting too sweet and too greasy for my liking.
Nonetheless, birthday cakes, especially festively decorated ones, call for American buttercream. Which, luckily, is easily scraped off the top and sides of a cake.
Enter the need for an excellent filling – one that provides a different taste and texture than the cake and helps keep the cake moist and tender.
It’s kind of a no-brainer that when the cake is lemon-flavored the perfect filling is lemon curd. For the first several years of lemon cakes I simply used jarred lemon curd in the center of the my cake (over a thin layer of buttercream of whipped cream to hold it in place). But then I got more serious about cooking and I realized I could pretty easily make lemon curd at home.
Or, I could spend hours separating eggs and fussing with candy thermometers and make the whole thing more complicated than necessary. Several of the recipes I reviewed before embarking on my first session of lemon curd making called for egg yolks only or a combination of whole eggs and egg yolks. I even tried a few of those recipes in the past. They were delicious, but sometimes, when I have a long “to-do” list of recipes to make I can get kind of lazy in the kitchen. I don’t want to take the time to separate eggs and I never know what to do with the leftover part. I guess I should get better at coordinating recipes so that I make meringue or white cake at the same time I may lemon curd – but life usually just doesn’t work out that way.
Then, a couple of years ago I was trying to do too many things at once in the kitchen (story of my life) and I inadvertently added the entire eggs, whites and all, to my lemon juice and sugar mixture. I was transferring the mixture to my saucepan when I realized what I had done and my heart sank. I honestly did not want to go back and zest and juice more lemons, nor did I want to throw away all those ingredients. Luckily, I was almost out of lemons and I had no time to run to the store, so I said, “what the heck,” and decided to try and make the curd with the whole eggs. What was the worst that could happen?
I am so glad I made this devious because, you know what? The lemon curd was delicious – whole eggs and all. It was possibly not quite as smooth as the egg yolk only version, but not noticeably so. And it was so much easier and quicker. And it didn’t leave me with extra egg whites hanging around my fridge. And so, the Super Duper Easy Lemon Curd (that makes everything better) recipe was born.
To make this curd I started by zesting two large lemons and then I juiced them, together with a third lemon until I had 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Make sure you use fresh lemons in this recipe – dried zest and bottled lemon juice just don’t provide the fresh, crisp flavor you are looking for.
I combined the lemon juice, sugar, and three large eggs in a heavy saucepan, and whisked until well-mixed. Then I stirred in 4 tablespoons of butter, cut into chunks and the lemon zest. I cooked the mixture on the stovetop over medium heat, whisking constantly to prevent the egg from congealing, until the mixture was thickened. You know it is finished when it coats a metal spoon. Then I transferred the curd to a small bowl and allowed it to cool for about ten minutes before covering it with plastic wrap and refrigerating.
This curd make a delicious cake filling. It also taste terrific on scones or muffins – I’ve been slathering my avocado muffins with it all week. And it can be whisked into fresh whipped cream for a delightful lemon whipped “mousse.”
Trust me, once you trust this homemade version, you will never buy jarred lemon curd again.