Monday, May 28, 2012

A lemon named curd

For Mother's Day I made a Pink Lemonade Cake from Better Homes and Gardens. Everyone loved it. I'm sure I've said it before, but I'll say it again--I don't really like cake. As cakes go, however, this one was pretty good. It had a sharp lemon flavour and a hearty dose of sweetness. I'll be honest though. Mostly I wanted to make it because it's just so pretty.

Look how lovely and pink it is. And the layers are subtly different shades. I fell in love as soon as I saw the picture of it here. Theirs is a little nicer looking than mine, but they have food stylists, and I do not. So there.

Anyway, I wanted to talk less about the cake and more about the lemon curd I used in the middle. As per usual I deviated from the original recipe when it came to icing and filling. I used my Italian buttercream recipe from this post, adding a teaspoon of lemon extract along with the vanilla.

And for the middle layer I used Anna Olson's lemon curd recipe. I folded in a cup of whipped cream (holding stiff peaks) to turn it into a sort of impromptu mousse, but you could use it all on it's own. The curd comes from a recipe for warm lemon sponge, which I would highly recommend making in it's entirety. It's exactly how it sounds. And the curd provides a beautiful contrast of texture nestled in the middle of the individual cakes.

'Curd' is a very unfortunate word, I think. Probably because the mind immediately jumps to 'curdled' and there's not much that's more disgusting than curdled dairy. Please don't let this deter you. Think of it as lemon custard if you must. Because that is actually all it is. 

The Anna Olson recipe is my standby whenever I need lemon curd. As I'm sure you've already guessed, it's extraordinarily easy. And it's always worked out for me, which is more than I can say for just about every other recipe I've ever made. I think it's safe to say it's pretty fool proof. The trick is to whisk it the entire time so as to avoid any lumps. The butter will remain in chunks until it's heated up enough to melt, but don't worry, it will be fine.

When you chill it, just be sure you place a piece of saran wrap directly on the surface to prevent it from forming a skin. 

The lemon flavour you get out of this is divine, with just the right balance of tangy and sweet. It's bright and refreshing and so smooth and creamy. I don't even mind the bits of zest in it. That's a big deal. Just ask my mom.

So keep it in your recipe book. Use it to fill cakes, fruit tarts, cream puffs. Dip strawberries in it, spread it on toast. Or eat it right out of the bowl with a spoon. Just as long as you try it. However you might feel about the word 'curd'.

1 comment:

  1. A wonderfully delicious cake. It is also very pretty, one of the nicest looking cakes I've had. A perfect Mother's Day gift. xo