My morning began in the garden yesterday. No, I didn’t wake up there; this was after I’d woken, dressed, and breakfasted (yes, that is a word). Anyway, while I was gardening, I remembered the bag of lemons hidden away in the beer fridge. I think my mind was conjuring anything it could to get me out of the sun and back inside. It is lovely to finally have some sunshine after all this rain, but you know, too much of a good thing and all that. And it doesn't take a lot of sun to be too much for me.
I’d bought the lemons a few weeks ago with the idea of making a lemon meringue pie, but ended up making a fig cake instead. The Boofhead has been dropping some rather unsubtle hints that he was running out of lemon butter (one of life’s essentials, don’t you know), so I decided to make him some.
I'd found a recipe for Lemon Butter in one of Mum’s old cookbooks a while ago. The Berrima Cottage Hospital Cook Book was launched in 1981 as a fund-raiser for the little hospital in the NSW Southern Highlands. It is quaint and at times, hilarious. My favourite is this recipe for Preserved Passionfruit:
Yes, that’s 2 ½ tablets of Bayer Aspirin being used to preserve that passionfruit. I think it would make the perfect Valentine's dessert; there wouldn’t be any headaches after that one!
I also love the cure for fatigue that involves soaking ones feet in watered down hot mustard. The mechanism is simple: “Excess of blood is thereby drawn away from the brain, the nervous strain is lifted; it really is a rest cure.” Really.
Back to the Lemon Butter, and a recipe originally authored by Mrs Clarice Williams, great grandmother of Len Williams of Moss Vale. I’m not sure who Len Williams is, but the editors of the cookbook felt him worthy of a mention, so who am I to disagree?
Here’s the original recipe:
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Put lemon juice and grated portion of the rind to boil. Add sugar and butter and bring to boil. Beat eggs well and add to other ingredients. Boil until mixture thickens. Keep in jars in the refrigerator.
I considered following this recipe to the letter, I really did. But the prospect of sweet lemon scrambled eggs wasn’t all that appealing. And only 30g of butter? So here’s what I came up with. Even though I’ve upped the butter, the final product really is more of a curd. So…
- 2 cups caster sugar
- 4 lemons zested and juiced (yielding approximately 160ml juice), at room temperature
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 100g butter, softened
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well. While continuing to beat the mixture, gradually add the lemon zest and juice.
Transfer to a saucepan, and gently whisk the mixture over a low heat until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. This should take about 20 minutes.
Transfer immediately into two sterilised jars. Store in the fridge.
I had a little lemon curd left over after filling my two jars, so thought I’d whip up some tarts. While I may have exaggerated with the 'ten minute' title, these tarts really are rather easy.
- 160ml lemon curd, at room temperature
- 125g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 sheet puff pastry
Preheat your oven to 170°C and lightly grease a muffin pan with a vegetable oil spray.
Take your sheet of puff pastry and use a round cookie cutter to cut 9 rounds of pastry. Cover the base of 9 of the muffin tin cups with a pastry round. Cover with baking paper and weights or rice, and blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and weights, and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, whiz together the lemon curd and cream cheese in a blender until well combined. Spoon about a tablespoon of the lemon curd mixture into each pastry shell. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to allow the tart filling to firm before serving.