Lemon Curd

spur of the moment decisions lead to good things

The first time I remember having lemon curd was when I was 15 and visiting England for the second time.  (My first trip was when I was two.  All I remember was I had a jigsaw puzzle that I got to do on the plane and I think it came in a tin.  I still love jigsaw puzzles…)

I’d been wanting to go to London for so long and my mum had promised me I could go with her on this trip if I kept my grades up (it was during the school term).  Mission accomplished.  Even in Math.  Barely.

While we were staying at my Aunt’s just outside of North Hampton, I got to try her homemade lemon curd for the first time.  Love at first taste.  As I mentioned in the Strawberry Lemon Tart post, she makes the best lemon curd.  Maybe it’s because hers was the first I’d ever tried but it’s the one I measure all the followers to and hers always stands up.

Years later, when I was living in London after university and was pretty poor, I would still find the money to buy myself three English treats I miss so much: Waitroses Lemon Curd, McVitties Jaffa Bars (not the cakes.. the bars) and potato waffles.  There’s lots of other UK goodies I miss too but those were always on the shopping list and are always on my “please bring me these when you come visit” list.  Along with Marks and Spencer’s black tights and blackcurrent licorice candies.  Seriously… why can’t anybody in N. America make a decent pair of black tights???

Anyway, I digress…. oh and prawn crisps!!  I love those two.  And Mars Revels!

Ok, so let me just mop up the drool here and… on to lemon curd.

despite the fact that it was raining when I took this, it feels like summer to me

I had made a few other things that required a lot of egg whites, which left me with a lot of egg yolks and no clue what to do with them that wasn’t complex or time consuming.  So imagine my surprise when I googled egg yolk recipes and saw Lemon Curd on the list.  I thought I’d give it a shot!

Lemon Curd

**adapted (and very poorly I might add) from this recipe by Alton Brown

5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 lemons, zested and juiced (Important! You need enough juice to equal 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup (or 1 stick) butter cut into small pats and chilled

So a word of warning… mine turned out runny.  It tasted absolutely fabulous but was definitely runny.  And I think I know why now looking back.  The original recipe said “4 lemons zested and juiced”, which I dilgently did.  My four lemons gave me nearly 2/3 cup of lemon juice, all of which I used.  It wasn’t until after I’d finished and I went back and looked at the recipe that I noticed in the instructions that you only needed 1/3 cup of juice.  My mistake.

Set up a double boiler with water or create your own by heating an inch of water in a saucepan until it’s simmering.  If you create your own, be sure to mix the next batch of ingredients in bowl that will sit inside your saucepan without touching the water.

Whisk egg  yolks and sugar together in the top bowl of your double boiler (but don’t put it on the boiling water yet!) until smooth.  Add in 1/3 cup of lemon juice and the lemon zest and whisk some more until smooth.  By this time you water should be boiling.  Reduce heat until it drops to a simmer and then place your top bowl over it.

Continue to whisk over hot water until mixture is thickened (about 8 minutes).  Mixture should be light yellow and coat the back of a spoon

Remove heat and start adding butter, one piece at a time.  Stir in each piece until it has completely melted before adding the next.

Poor into clean jars or containers and directly cover surface with a piece of Saran/cling wrap to stop a skin from forming.  Let cool and refrigerate to set.  Once it’s set, you no longer need to use the plastic wrap – just cover with a lid.

Use this everywhere.  I’m serious.  everywhere. On toast, drizzled over fresh fruit, in tarts, on your oatmeal, pancakes… or just eat it directly from the jar with a large spoon (let’s face it… all the other stuff is just window dressing that allows you to eat large quantities of lemon curd!)

Photography Tips

Image 1: 50m, f3.5, 1/60th, ISO400, +2/3 exposure compensation

This was a “happy accident” photo.  I was making the lemon tarts and looked behind me and saw the way the lemon jars were sitting with all the curd dripping down them and the spatula and the extra lemons I was going to use in the tart shoot and it said “take my picture”.  So I did. And this is how it turned out.  No styling, no post processing except a sharpen.  Sometimes it just happens that way.

Image 2: 50mm, f3.5, 1/30th, ISO200, +2/3 exposure compensation.

This was hard, mostly because my lemon curd was runny.  And on second looks, I should have picked a strawberry with a less droopy looking stem.  A million things to pay attention to.  Lesson: never be in rush.  Be patient.  I did a small crop on this in post processing and bumped up the contrast and the brightness and saturation a bit.  The light is from the upper right side and oddly enough, it was a rainy day but it felt like summer light.


  1. says

    Wow Melissa, now you’ve really made me homesick :-( We just moved here from England last year and you’ve just talked about all the things I really miss. Potato waffles, yum… and M&S… especially their food hall.

    Beautiful pictures, as usual!!

    • Melissa says

      awww Sorry Michelle! We used to have M&S here but they closed up shop a while back and I miss all their goodies. I used to work in Chelsea and there was one right up the road on King’s Road. I’d walk up there and buy my sandwich at lunch when I had a few extra pounds.
      I’m hoping to be in the UK this winter – maybe we can work out a care package 😉

  2. says

    I’ve never had lemon curd but I am now intrigued. It looks fabulous even if it is a bit runny! The tartness would be perfect on fresh fruit!

  3. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen says

    Blackcurrent licorice candies?! What’s the name? I need to get some the next time I have a layover in London, those are two of my favorite flavors in one! And your know what lemon curd would be great with – shortbread cookies! Now see what you’ve done, you have me dreaming of all these great British things I can’t find here.

    • Melissa says

      it WOULD be great with shortbread cookies! and another friend sent me a trifle recipe that uses it… the possibilities!!

  4. says

    Not only do I LOVE lemon curd, but I love great food photography as well.
    So naturally, I just love the fact that you put the camera settings up so we can learn from you!
    Thank you!

    • Melissa says

      thx Tricia- look forward to seeing it. Sharon at Layers and Layers sent me her recipe for English trifle made with lemon curd. I’ll have to send it to you!

    • Melissa says

      I’ve noticed a lot of N. American posts on lemon curd this year so I think it must be catching on. And you just reminded me what I need to try – Sticky Toffee Pudding!! Thanks :)

  5. says

    I’m so glad I found your blog…love the lemon curd by Alton Brown, he is always inspiring to make great things, and you certainly made him proud with your most amazing lemon curd. Your photography is gorgeous, capturing all the tiniest details, and vivid shots. I’m not a pro photographer, but I take pride in my photography, as well. I am posting your blog on my blog list, so I can click on it each time to see what new things you have. Will follow you on twitter, as well. I subscribe to the RSS feed too.
    Please stop my my blog, and check my photography of my foods, and other interesting things and places that I love to take pictures of.
    Have a wonderful weekend!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

8 − 2 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>