I’m going to try making the blood orange curd today, but it occurred to me that the way to see if Sherry Yard’s lemon curd is worth the effort is to make two lemon tarts, one with her involved curd and one with my usual quick and easy lemon curd. Normally I use cornstarch in my lemon curd to stiffen it a bit; then when I cut a slice of tart, the curd doesn’t run everywhere. However, Sherry Yard wants you to bake the tart to set her curd, so I’m thinking this is my opportunity to try that with my curd, too. So yesterday’s plan was to prebake two tart crusts, fill them with the two kinds of curd, and bake the tarts. That took a lot longer than I realized it would, so I’m only just comparing them today.
Sherry’s curd has 3 eggs and 4 yolks, and it has butter. Mine has 3 eggs and no butter. I used a little more sugar in mine, and we used the same amount of lemon juice, but I used water, too. Sherry’s curd is opaque, and mine is translucent, and the yellows are different: I think Sherry’s is the color of cooked egg yolk and mine is the color of lemon.
I took her curd out of the fridge and spooned it into the crust. It was pretty stiff, and I had trouble getting it smooth, even with an offset spatula. It might have been less stiff if I’d let it come to room temperature. I baked that for 20 minutes. My curd hadn’t thickened as much as usual because I didn’t use cornstarch. (At 160℉ it still hadn’t thickened; I brought it to the boil, as usual. It thickened some as it cooled, though.) It was the consistency of cream, and it poured into the crust—no smoothing required. I baked that for 20 minutes, too, and it set perfectly. I’ll have to decide if I want to forgo the cornstarch now and bake the tart, but that adds another step and more time to the process. For lemon meringue pie, however, which goes in the oven to cook the meringue, maybe the curd will set with 10 minutes at 350℉ followed by the usual 10 to 12 minutes after adding the meringue.
As far as flavor, I can taste the butter in hers, which I don’t like, but it might be more lemony. Mine is lemony, but Dr. Science says it’s sweeter than Sherry’s, and he finds hers more lemony, too. I’ve been thinking that processing the lemon zest with the sugar in the food processor might be worth the trouble. I’ll try that with the next batch and see what happens. After that I’ll see what happens if I cut back on the sugar to ⅔ of a cup from 1 cup.
Sherry Yard: Master Lemon Curd. In The Secrets of Baking. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003, pp 75-76.