05/04/2006

Lemon Curd

(To make about 1kg (2lb) lemon curd)

4 medium lemons: squeeze the juice and finely grate the yellow part of the rind
100g (about 4 ounces) unsalted butter [do NOT use margarine]
450g (about 2 cups) sugar
4 largish eggs (or 6 small), beaten

Method:

Mix together the lemon rind and juice, then put with the butter and sugar in a tall pyrex or other suitable container, uncovered. There should be about 300ml lemon juice altogether, although it doesn't matter if there's a little less. If the lemons are very juicy and there is more than this, the result will be quite runny.

Microwave on full (high) for about four minutes, stirring after two minutes. Stir well to dissolve the sugar fully, and make sure the butter is completely melted. Microwave a little longer if necessary.

Add the beaten eggs, stirring in thoroughly. Microwave for a further five to six minutes, stirring well after every minute, until the mixture is thick and creamy. Do not over-cook - stop when it thickens and give a final stir.

Cool slightly, then put in clean, warm jars with lids. Refrigerate when cold.


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Note: ensure the mixture comes less than half-way up the sides of your microwave container, or it will boil over! If you don't have a large enough jug, you can make it in two halves.

Lemon curd is a sweet preserve, used like jam on bread and butter, toast, or muffins (the English variety!) It's also good spooned into little pastry cases and baked in the oven. In some places it's known as 'lemon butter' - but this can cause confusion as lemon butter may also be a savoury, salty spread.

Lemon curd used to be time-consuming to make, needing a large pan of simmering water over a low heat, stirring constantly in a heatproof bowl. But with a microwave oven, it becomes quick and easy. It's best kept refrigerated and used within a couple of months.

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