YOU WILL NEED:
- Suitable pot and stainless steel bowl for a bain-marie
- Stainless steel mixing bowl
- Mesh strainer
- One 8.5-inch tart shell, lined with pate sucree, if you want to make a tart
- 2/3 cup fresh squeezed and strained lemon juice
- 1/2 cup sugar (4 ounces) - OR 1/3 cup sugar if using Meyer lemons
- 2 eggs
- 2 yolks
- Optional - knob of unsalted butter
If you've never improvised a double boiler (bain-marie here) you need to examine your equipment first. A bain-marie is simply a bowl set over simmering water. The key to making lemon curd is to make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. You will need a pot that is not terribly wide. Fill it with about 2 inches of water. Then you need a medium-large stainless steel mixing bowl. Set the bowl over the pot and make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the surface of the water. Just lift the bowl and see if the bottom is wet. If it is you'll need a different bowl. Or pot.
Once you're set equipment wise, bring the water in the pot to a boil. Then reduce the heat so the water is barely simmering.
Set juice, sugar, eggs and yolks in the stainless steel bowl and whisk gently. You don't want to add too much air (think more stirring than whisking). Set the bowl on the pot of simmering water and cook, whisking every so often, for about 8 minutes. The curd is done when the whisk leaves tracks. Turn off heat, add knob of butter and stir until melted.
Strain into blind baked pastry shell or into a bowl. If straining into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface. Use within one week.
Want to make the lemon cake pictured above? It's a Chez Panisse classic, found here.