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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Lemon butter

What do you do when you're given a huge bag of lemons from somebody's tree in the dead of winter? Enormous batches of hot lemon, honey and ginger drinks to sell at work might be a good idea, but huge batches of refreshing lemonade would not.
I decided on lemon butter, or lemon curd as it's variously known in other bits of the world. If you've ever visited a school fete or church market stall you'll know that lemon butter is the money item. Yes, your plum jams, marmalades and pickle chutneys are all good, but it's the lemon butter that gets people really excited. It's really a visual thing; they walk up to the table, feverishly scan the collection searching out their one desired item...when they spot it their eyes light up and their hand jumps out to grab it before somebody else can nab their prize. Somebody told me that their boyfriend makes them stop whatever they're doing whenever they see a sign for a school fete or church fair, just to satisfy his lemon butter craving. I kindly donated a jar to his cause.
Essentially lemon butter is just a custard with juice instead of milk, so you must be careful when cooking it so it doesn't curdle. I had been warned to avoid any recipe which had large amounts of butter in it, as too often all the butter didn't incorporate and the jars were left with a large layer of liquid butter on top. I think this is a good tip.
I don't know many people who don't like the tangy sweetness of lemon butter. Great as a filling in tarts and cakes, it's also perfect on a slice of toast or spread on a Butternut Snap biscuit (heated for a few seconds in the microwave...bliss!). Personally, I love eating it by the spoonful, while standing in front of an open fridge. But that doesn't make it last that long...

A homemade jar of lemon butter is a perfect gift idea, but I made it to sell at our monthly church market stall where, yes, it sold before the jams did. :-)
Read on for the recipe:

Lemon Butter
Recipe inspired by Nigella Lawson, method courtesy of Stephanie Alexander.
This recipe can be increased by however many lemons you have. I tripled it, which gave just under a litre; enough for 8 small jars.

75g butter
3 large eggs
75g caster sugar
125ml lemon juice
zest 1 lemon
cleaned & sterilsed jars

Finely grate zest and juice lemons. In a heavy-based saucepan, combine butter, lemon juice, zest and sugar. Stir constantly over heat until sugar has dissolved. Add eggs off the heat and stir to mix well. Cook over gently heat, stirring constantly, until mixture has thickened (this will take some time for a larger batch). Do not allow it to boil or it will curdle. Pour straight into small, hot, sterilsed jars* or into a bowl if using immediately.

*I find that putting jars through a hot dishwasher cycle does a great job of cleaning and sterilising them.


  • Unfortunately I must be one of the few people that is not too keen on lemon curd. But I agree with you that it is a great gift item.

    I love making jams and jellies and, one method of sterilizing that I found in one booklet published by Agriculture Canada in 1983, calls for putting clean jars, upside down inside the oven and keep it for 10 minutes in a 100-degree oven. Shut off the oven and use as needed. The booklet also says that the dishwasher method is acceptable

    By Blogger Ana, at 7/07/2005 09:00:00 pm  

  • Ana - Well, I guess there are one or two non-fans of lemon butter.....
    I have heard of the oven sterilisation method, and would like to try it as a hands-free way of completing the tast. Unfortunately, my jars always need to be washed out first, as they've been containing stuff right up until I need them (I don't plan ahead enough), so the dishwasher fills two functions for me!

    By Blogger Niki, at 7/07/2005 09:22:00 pm  

  • that looks amazing! i am a huge lemon curd fan- i can manage to eat it with everything, or even on its own (i love all things sour). i also sometimes eat it with cottage cheese which i suppose is a bit odd.

    By Blogger tanvi, at 7/08/2005 02:19:00 am  

  • Hi Niki,
    well im feeling like I've missed out on something.. I've never actually had lemon butter before. My brow is furrowed, wondering how that could have happened. But you make it sound very tempting and the recipe looks nice and easy. I might just have to give it a try!

    By Blogger Michèle, at 7/08/2005 06:24:00 am  

  • Satan, get thee behind me!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/08/2005 07:03:00 am  

  • Niki, apologies if that seemed a flippant comment but I hope it conveyed my appreciation for a bit of genuine pleasure on a day like this.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/08/2005 07:39:00 am  

  • Hi Niki, I've been known to bring a lemon butter "dessert sandwich" to work to eat after lunch. Because of this, one of my former workmates says she always thinks of me when she passes the lemon butter in the supermarket :)

    I'd never seriously considered making lemon butter before, but now I think I'll have to give it a go. I think it's the jar sterilising that freaks me out...

    By Blogger Kelly, at 7/08/2005 09:45:00 am  

  • Hi Niki. I'm a lemon curd addict. I have recently switched my regular lemon curd recipe to a light one that Alice Medrich published. At least I can feel a bit healthier there!

    By Blogger Nic, at 7/08/2005 01:01:00 pm  

  • Tanvi - I don't think having it with cottage cheese is odd at all. In fact, thank you for the idea. I think I'll really enjoy that combo! I can just imagine it combined on a piece of nice bread.

    Michele - It's very yummy, but particularly so if you like tangy sweetness, like lemon tarts or lemon gelati. It is easy to make, especially if you're familiar with making custard.

    Owen - No offence taken. Rather, only pleasure in your guilty enjoyment!

    Brisskjj - Supermarket lemon butter is an entirely different species to the homemade stuff, as I'm sure you know. It's not without its charms, but it's never tangy enough for me. And the texture is a bit too plastic-y (sp??). The tip I found about running jars through the dishwasher was a revelation, and was the sole reason that I considered making jams a few months ago.

    Nic - Ooooh! Is there any chance you might be able to post that recipe? I've been engaged in a lengthy battle to try and buy a second-hand copy of Medrich's Chocolate & the art of low fat desserts, which is unavailable in Australia. I ordered from a second-hand dealer on Amazon, but he sent me the wrong thing then claimed never to have owned the book in the first place! The only other 2nd hand dealer won't ship internationally, and a new copy is WAAAY too expensive (esp with intnl postage). I'm considering asking a reader in the US to receive the package for me!

    By Blogger Niki, at 7/08/2005 02:30:00 pm  

  • Oh my gosh! The picture floors me! Niki, you are perhaps the queen of decadent delights, hehehe!

    I had lemon butter a long time ago and would love to make some. However, lemons are difficult to have here. I wonder if I can substitute limes instead. I guess there's only one way to find out!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/08/2005 05:17:00 pm  

  • There is an excellent dessert recipe using a jar of Lemon Curd in the Sophie Gray book "The Destitute Gourmet".

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/08/2005 07:41:00 pm  

  • Hi Niki I have been reading your posts for some time now, and you are an inspiration in the kitchen. I have copied all your glorious chocolate cake recipes and plan to work my way through baking them too - first up the Chocolate Mocha Fudge for my husband's birthday this month - can't wait to try those caramelised walnuts. As a coincidence (which has compelled me to post) I made lemon butter last week to use with some coconut crumpets and baked into a cake. I must have done what you cautioned against recently and boiled my lemon curd, I have taken to using my microwave and on a recent batch let it go that tad too long. If your interested I posted about the cake on my food blog.

    By Blogger Amanda, at 7/09/2005 08:28:00 am  

  • Hi Nicky,
    like Michele, I never had lemon butter ! Your description sounds really mouthwatering and I'm always curious for new dishes or ingredients. I should give it a try soon (because I do love lemon gelati... :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/10/2005 01:06:00 am  

  • Limes make brilliant lemon butter. I've also made plum butter but I can't remember where the recipe is. plum butter is exquisite.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/10/2005 08:06:00 pm  

  • I want to eat this right off my computer screen! It looks so good. I will eat lemon curd on anything, but I love it on a toasted English muffin with a cup of tea late at night.

    By Blogger Megan, at 7/11/2005 10:15:00 am  

  • Karen - the recipe that I posted was actually a recipe for lime curd, for which I just subbed lemons. It'd work perfectly with limes! I'd love to try it, if only limes were not so expensive here.

    Barbara - that sounds good. I must check it out.

    Lushlife - gosh! Thanks for the compliments. The mocha cake is a serious piece of cake bakery. Very rich, and the walnuts are so good. Pecans would also be really great, and a bit more crunchy. Your coconut muffins with lemon curd sound fabulous!

    Nicky - it's certainly worth a try, esp if you love lemony flavoured things

    Anna - plum butter sounds fantastic. Do you have a recipe? I would love to try it!

    Megan - lemon butter with almost anything is fantastic. In fact, you've made me think I should have a nice cup of tea and some curd on toast right now!

    By Blogger Niki, at 7/14/2005 02:12:00 pm  

  • Oh, I've been looking /everywhere/ for a decent lemon butter recipe, something I could use my giant pile of lemons for. Thank you, this looks perfect!

    By Blogger cakeisking, at 10/18/2005 02:31:00 pm  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/09/2008 12:50:00 am  

  • Here is the Alice Medrich light lemon curd recipe.....

    Light Lemon Curd

    Lemon curd is a thick and custardy combination of lemon juice, sugar, eggs and butter. It typically has a silky smooth texture and a bright, zesty flavor. It goes well with scones - especially as a contrast to buttery clotted cream - and is often used as a cake filling, tart filling or as a sauce or side for other desserts. For a citrus lover, few things are tastier.

    Lemon curd tastes so good that it’s hard to stop at only a few bites. Unfortunately, the rich consistency of lemon curd primarily comes from fat and, although the zest of the lemon makes the curd taste lighter, most versions are far from health food and you really shouldn’t overindulge - especially if you’re serving the curd alongside butter and cream-based traditional scones, as well.

    In Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts (sadly out of print, but often available used), Alice Medrich includes a recipe for a lightened up lemon curd that is absolutely fantastic. I’ve been making it for years and, happily, don’t feel too bad if I eat half the batch in one go. The curd has a silky smooth texture and great lemon flavor. In fact, it is much brighter than many lemon curds I’ve had. The recipe is easy to make as long as you have one or two fresh lemons around. I’ve also adapted it to make lime curd before with great success.

    Light Lemon Curd
    (from Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts)
    1/3 cup strained, fresh lemon juice
    2 tsp fresh lemon zest
    5 tbsp sugar
    1 large egg, room temperature
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract

    In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, combine sugar and lemon juice. Add zest and stir until sugar is dissolved completely.
    In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg. Whisking constantly (or with an electric mixer on low), very slowly stream the hot lemon-sugar syrup into the egg. Beat for 2 minutes (only 1 if you’re using a mixer), then transfer back into the saucepan by pouring the mixture through a sieve.
    Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
    Transfer to a small airtight container and store in the fridge.

    Makes about 2/3 cup. Recipe can be doubled.

    Article printed from Baking Bites: http://bakingbites.com


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/09/2008 02:12:00 pm  

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