Who doesn’t love lemon curd? Tangy and sweet, lip-puckeringly delicious, it’s such a wonderful way of preserving the flavours and colours of summer into a small jar, and you can make and enjoy it at any time of the year, because lemons are so easily available and cheap too. This recipe is for lemon curd with a couple of twists though. I encountered the idea of adding cooking apple purée to lemon curd in The River Cottage Preserves Book by Pam Corbin. It’s a wonderful development of the basic lemon curd recipe – adding a beautifully fragrant apple flavour to the lemon, and, of course, you get a lot more curd for your money, which is always a bonus.
The other twist is the curd-making method itself. Curds have a reputation of being rather fiddly to create successfully, most recipes calling for the use of a bain marie to stop the eggs cooking too quickly and curdling. I have always used a glass bowl balanced over a pan of simmering water, and cursed at having to have my arm at a really uncomfortable angle to do the necessary 15 minutes of stirring. The conventional method also asks you to add the eggs to a butter, sugar and lemon juice mix which has already been heated, something rather fraught with eggy danger if you have the mix too hot. Recently, however, I happened upon a kind of all-in-one method of making lemon curd – which involves mixing all the ingredients BEFORE you start to add heat. You don’t have to worry about sieving the eggs, and the mixture is cooked in an ordinary pan over a low heat, which is so much easier to do. As long as you keep your heat low, there is no risk of any curdling. I was really sceptical, but have used this method 3 times now, with no problems at all.
Lemon and apple curd
You need the kind of cooking apples that cook to a purée, like Bramleys (the usual kind you find in supermarkets) or Blenheim Orange – don’t worry if the apples you have weigh a bit more or a bit less than the amount specified in the recipe. All the recipes for lemon curd I’ve ever read specify unsalted butter – I use salted and haven’t really noticed any effect on the flavour, so stick with that – I’ll leave it up to you!
- 2 medium cooking apples (you need about 450g before peeling and coring)
- 2-3 unwaxed lemons
- 125g butter, at room temperature
- 450g golden granulated sugar
- 4-5 large eggs
- Prepare the jars you plan to use by washing them in hot soapy water, rinsing, and drying them in a very very low oven (on about 50C). Leave the jars to keep warm in the oven until you are ready to pot up the curd. Alternatively you can be very clever and coincide your curd-making with the end of the cycle of your dishwasher and use the jars straight from the wash. If you have pots with metal lids, cover them with boiling water, and do the same with the jam funnel if you are using one to help with potting up. Another option is to use wax disks and cellophane covers for lemon curd.
- Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and put in a small lidded pan with a couple of tablespoons of water. Put the lid on the pan then leave on a low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring now and again to prevent it catching on the base. When the apple is a smooth purée, take off the heat, push through a sieve into a bowl.
- Finely grate the zest of the 2 lemons and stir into the apple purée. Set the purée to one side to cool.
- Cut the butter into smallish pieces and put in a large bowl. Add the sugar and use an electric hand whisk (or you could use the whisk attachment on your stand mixer) to beat together until combined.
- Juice the 2 lemons, and strain the juice through a sieve into a measuring jug. You need 100ml of juice in total – juice the other lemon if you need to.
- Add the juice to the butter and sugar mixture. Start with the whisk on low speed, and then when the mixture is combined, turn up the speed and beat for 1 minute.
- Add the apple puree and lemon zest to the butter and sugar mixture and whisk briefly to combine.
- Beat the eggs together then measure out 200ml into a measuring jug. if you don’t quite have 200ml, beat another egg and add the extra needed.
- Adding a little beaten egg at a time, slowly whisk the egg into the butter/sugar/apple mixture. Increase the speed and beat until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the mixture straight into a large heavy-based non-reactive pan. Put over a medium low heat (somewhere between low and medium is what you want!), and slowly warm the mixture, stirring all the time. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up high because you WILL curdle the egg and be left with a not-so-delicious pan of lemon and apple flavoured scrambled egg. Be patient, keep stirring and the mixture will gradually thicken. This will take between 10 and 15 minutes depending on how well you judge the heat. Once the curd is ready it will be the consistency of a nice thick custard or cheese sauce, and (if you are the technical kind of preserve maker) it should have a temperature of 82-84C on a sugar thermometer.
- Immediate pour the hot curd into the warm jars and seal.
- Assuming you have sterilized and sealed the jars correctly, the curd will keep at room temperature for about 4 weeks unopened – once opened, keep the curd in the fridge.
If you make some, can I recommend today’s dessert to you? We had meringues sandwiched together with mascarpone and yogurt cream (just mix together half and half mascarpone and plain yogurt and add 1 tablespoon of caster sugar) and lemon and apple curd… It was unbelievably good.