How to Make Lemon Curd

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2020. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Finished photo of lemon curdDue to the confusion over adding the gelatin in last week’s blog,  I thought it might be a good idea to post a complete tutorial on Lemon Curd.  This actually applies to most curds I  have made with the exception of the Cranberry Curd which does not need a  boost from gelatin because it has a lot of natural pectin which sets it.

When I first started making large batches of Lemon Curd at the bakery, we piped it into small pastry cups for petit fours.  I noticed that towards the end of each piping bag, it would lose its stiffness.  So I started adding a bit of gelatin to help keep it stable and allow it to keep its shape when piped.  I find it makes all the difference in the world and use it in all of my curds today.

Lemon Curd can be made and used immediately.  Or, It can be made up to a week ahead and refrigerated.   It can also be frozen for several months. Just thaw in the refrigerator prior to use.

Lemon Curd, or any curd for that matter, is simple once you have made it.  Using a thermometer takes all the guesswork out of when it is done.  The fact that curds make such wonder fillings for tarts, cakes and as is on a scone or biscuit is reason enough to master this basic technique for baking.  In late 19th- and early 20th-century England, homemade lemon curd was traditionally served with bread or scones at afternoon tea as an alternative to jam.

The amount of the ingredients can change for various recipes but the technique remains the same.  This is part of a recipe for a Lemon Meringue Loaf that will be blogged at a later date.  Feel free to get this made and in the freezer for later use.

Lemon Curd

1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon gelatin
3 whole eggs
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar (150 grams or 5 1/4 ounces)
3/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed – do not use the bottle version
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into 6 pieces (170 grams or 6 ounces or 1 1/2 sticks)

Dissolve the gelatin in the water then set aside.Gelatin in water

Bloomed gelatin

Place the eggs and yolks in a bowl. Eggs in a bowl for Lemon Curd Whisk to combine. Whisked eggs for Lemon Curd Whisk in the sugar and lemon juice. Sugar added to Lemon CurdStrain the mixture into the top of a double boiler or a bowl that will fit over a pan with water in it to remove the chalazae which is the hard, stringy egg white that suspends the yolk in the middle of the white.   If it is not strained out, it cooks up hard and ruins the smoothness of the Lemon Curd.   Strained Lemon Curd ingredientsAdd the butter. Butter addedPlace over gently boiling water and, Boiling waterstirring constantly, bring the curd to 172°F on a candy thermometer.
The gelatin will have solidified into a wiggly blob by now.  You can see me holding it.Blob of gelatin

Tear the gelatin into small pieces and addGelatin torn into pieces it to the lemon curd, whisking to dissolve it.  There is no need to liquefy it first, the heat of the curd will do that. Gelatin added to lemon curd
Use at once or pour into a storage container, cover the surface with plastic wrap; poke a few holes in it and refrigerate to cool.Curd Covered

Yield: 2 1/3 cup or approximately 680 grams.

Other recipes using curds are: 
Poppyseed Cake with Orange Curd and White Chocolate Buttercream 
Chocolate Cranberry Curd Tart

Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post!
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12 thoughts on “How to Make Lemon Curd

  1. TracyB

    Question – your recipe states 4 yolks however in your picture there are 6 – which one should it be?

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Tracy. If you look at the ingredients it states 3 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks. In the photo there’s 6 whole yolks and one broken one. That is the total yolks from the whole eggs and only yolks.

      1. TracyB

        My goodness you sure do list that – my apologies as my eyes flew over that part. This is a prime example of why one should always read and re-read their recipe twice and three times!! :) Thank you for your kind response!

  2. Marlene Kaminski

    Have you ever experienced lemon curd with a metallic taste? I’ve looked into it on the internet, but can’t find a definitive reason for it. Some say it’s caused by using metal utensils and others say it’s the ratio of the ingredients. What are your thoughts on the matter? I’ve made lemon curd several times, but am looking forward to trying your recipe.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Marlene, that occurs when you make it in an aluminum pot. The acid in the juice causes a reaction. It can also discolor it sometimes. I have all stainless steel lined or ceramic lined pans. This takes care of that problem. Glass is fine also.

  3. Mary

    I have made Lemon Curd quite a lot over the years but I have never put Gelatin in it. I don’t suppose I have ever ‘decorated’ with it but have just put it in as a filling and covered it with something else. I shall try this soon as I am intrigued to see how it looks.
    I have frozen Lemon Curd in the past and it has done well.
    Thanks for your very informative Newsletters. :)

  4. Nikki

    Adding gelatin seems to make sense. And I never knew that a curd could be frozen for that bit of education I thank you..
    Now I can’t wait for the Lemon Meringue Loaf that is to come. Please tell me that it uses the 4 egg whites! If not I do make Coconut Macaroons that I have been known to add a bit of lemon curd to a little indentation I make in the top.
    Again thank you for an excellent post and teaching me new “tricks”

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Jane, I have searched the comments and can’t find where you asked this before. In any case, it is taken care of.

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