Thursday, January 11, 2007

With A Twist Of Sour

In Paris last year, before the glorious France v Brazil match, N and I stopped at her local bakery to pick up some bread and pastries, including a tarte au citron. She said they made the really lemony tarts here, not the sweet toned-down version most patisseries sell, and that's what she liked: the more pucker-faced sour the better. To be honest lemon tarts would probably be the last pastry I'd chose; I always found them floury, with a fake 'yellow' taste amidst a stone-cold pastry shell. So I nodded along, thinking I'd let N and G enjoy the whole thing.

But I tried it, after the most perfect dinner of tomato salad and cheese and bread and cigarettes, and became hooked. It was sour as a lemon could be (and not to mention the perfect pastry). So, now another addiction where I had to seek same, but would I? when so many inferior versions would surely bump the taste buds askew. I needed that hit, that acidity, that sourness that keeps going when you expect the sweetness to take over. And I did try the odd one here and there; as to be expected sweet and thick and you can keep your 'lemon' tart.

Fast forward to this week, when after a quick stroll on Oxford Street, I passed a greengrocer with beautiful blackberries on sale. Berries being ridiculously expensive here I snapped up a couple of punnets. The first thing I thought of doing with them was mini lemon tarts with a perfect blackberry perched on top. I ate the blackberries - there'll be more - but tonight I made lemon curd. I read all the best recipes, decided on one, knowing my first attempt would either be ok or a disaster, but it was, well, really good. Next time I will try a recipe that's more sour - this is pleasantly sour and sweet at the same time.

Lemon Curd (makes 2 cups), from a recipe by Regina Schrambling.

2 lemons
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
5 Tablespoons butter, diced, at room temperatur

Zest both lemons into a bowl with the sugar, and mix. The smell is amazing! Add the eggs and combine with a hand blender or whisk until smooth. Add the juice of the lemons and then the butter. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, makinng sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. Whisk constantly for about 15 minutes, until the mixture thickens, and coats the back of a spoon. There's a moment when it happens and it's brilliant - this pale, duck egg yolk yellow, glossy and thick - and it's joy. Strain though a fine sieve then pop into glass jars, let it cool and refridgerate.

And there are so many more fabulous recipes to try: orange curd, passionfruit curd, with almonds or dark chocolate...


Blogger Mabs said...

I love lemon curd but never make it because I go through it so quickly.

My favourite Saturday morning is a trip to the markets to get the papers, a grainy loaf of some sort and a jar of the best lemon and lime curd I've ever tasted. Great stuff.

8:26 AM  
Blogger LivinginOz said...

That sounds absolutely delicious! I love tart things - now I am imagining your lemon tart and my mouth is watering.

7:25 PM  
Blogger A Novelist said...

This sounds absolutely delicious. Thanks for sharing!

9:26 AM  

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