The Lemons are so good right now.
Yellow as a pot of sunshine: who can resist lemon curd? When you make it, the whole kitchen smells of citrus and the reward is a sweet, sharp preserve to spread on warm toast, or my favourite, sourdough crumpets.
The eggs you use do matter. When the long-awaited ban on eggs from battery-caged chickens came into force in early 2012 there was a cheer let out by hundreds of food and animal activists. It was a happy egg day. But shoppers still faced an ethical choice when buying eggs, because the ban didn’t really mean the end of cages: just battery cages. The new ‘enriched’ cages are better than what they replaced, but they still confine the birds and limit their natural behaviours such as dust bathing, wing movement, walking, socialising, perching and nesting. So what about barn eggs? The name sounds romantic, conjuring an image of a traditional wooden farm building in a field, but make no mistake: these poor girls do not have access to the outside either and never see the sun. This is sadness itself. Denying any creature daylight and natural movement is inhumane and abhorrent.
The simplest thing you can do to make an ethical egg choice is either to keep your own chickens or buy eggs from free-range hens that have access to outdoor space. So when you enjoy your pot of lemon curd, you know that the hens that laid the eggs enjoyed a little sunshine too.
MAKES 2 x 450g JARS
- 200g unsalted butter
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme (I like to use lemon thyme)
- zest and juice of 4 unwaxed lemons
- 400g white granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- pinch of sea salt
Put the butter and thyme into a medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Add the lemon zest, juice and sugar. Stir occasionally until the butter has melted, then remove the pan from the heat and leave for 10 minutes so the thyme infuses the butter mixture.
Remove the herbs and return the pan to the heat, so the water simmers again under the bowl. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then reduce the heat under the butter mixture and gradually beat the eggs into it.
Return the water under the bowl to a simmer and stir the mixture regularly for about 10 minutes until the curd is thick and custard-like in consistency. Then turn off the heat, remove the bowl from the pan and stir the lemon curd as it cools to prevent a skin forming. Pour into two sterilised jars (see page 200) and seal. It will keep for two weeks in the fridge.
Please note: At The Sourdough School we endeavour to use fresh, seasonal, locally produced ingredients wherever possible. We reserve the right to change certain ingredients depending on availability and rely on students to contact the school before attending a course if they have any food allergies or intolerances.
Taken from Food for Thought by Vanessa Kimbell. Published by Kyle Books. Photography by Laura Edwards.