By complete coincidence, the technical challenge on this evening’s GBBO Comic Relief is Mary Berry’s Lemon Meringue Pie. As I write the contestants are battling with the intricacies of perfect pastry, smooth, creamy lemon filling and firm, golden meringue peaks! As ever, the charming Mary Berry is giving high praise and encouragement, while the suave, debonair but oh-so-critical Paul Hollywood is knocking everyone’s confidence! I wonder what he would say about my lemon meringue macarons.
Lemon meringue is one of the most simple macaron flavours but depends on really good quality lemon curd if it is to be truly delicious. As a thrifty baker I prefer not to waste the egg yolks that are a “by-product” of macaron-making, and lemon curd is an obvious, and useful, way of using them up. However, there are lots of different recipes and techniques for lemon curd and I have found it to be nearly as temperamental as macarons.
I needed an easy, foolproof recipe that used egg yolks only ( no point in cracking any more eggs for the purpose) and produced a rich, tangy, bright yellow curd. I struggled with several recipes that recommended the traditional bain-marie method and produced a lemon toffee-flavoured curd of a dubious brown hue when following a recipe from the much admired Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. However, after various experiments and a variety of outcomes, I have hit upon the perfect recipe for The Real Macaron Company’s lemon meringue macarons. I hope it works for you too.
Recipe for Lemon Curd
2 unwaxed lemons
80g caster sugar
90g good unsalted butter
4 medium egg yolks
pinch of salt
Finely grate the zest of the lemons, taking care not to grate into the pith
Squeeze the lemons – no pips please!
Put lemon zest, juice, salt, butter and sugar in medium-sized saucepan and heat gently until the sugar and butter have melted. Do not overcook (burn!) at this stage. Take off the heat.
Add the egg yolks that have been thoroughly whisked together to the saucepan slowly, whisking as you add. I find it easier to whisk with a fork at this point and then swap to a hand whisk once all the egg is added.
Return the saucepan to a low heat and keep whisking. do not let the mixture boil – remove from the heat for a few seconds if it starts to do so.
Keep whisking and the curd will start to thicken and bubble up from the middle as if to breathe a sigh of relief! This is the time to stop – it will thicken further as it cools. Further heating will only overcook the curd and ruin the flavour and the colour, which at this point should be a glorious, rich, sunny yellow.
Pour the curd into a super clean, warm jam jar – I find taking them straight from the dishwasher is ideal – cut a round of greaseproof paper to put on top, touching the curd and leave to cool before screwing the lid on tightly. I find this recipe makes one good 450g jar-full.