I served a Cream Tea at my book signing at the Vero Beach Book Center on March 19, and made Lemon Curd with Vanilla Sugar, Orange-Vanilla Scones, Clotted Curd, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and hot and iced tea.
Not everyone is as obsessed with Vanilla Sugar as I am, but I love it and take any opportunity to bump up the flavor of anything I make by using it. It’s as easy as putting used vanilla bean pods in sugar and letting the sugar absorb the flavor, or cutting open the vanilla bean pods, scraping the seeds out and combining them with sugar, and adding the empty pods in the mixture.
Lemon curd is expected at tea, and is easy to make. A few staple ingredients, a little time, and tangy golden lemon curd is at hand. I served it with Orange-Vanilla Scones at the Cream Tea, and had it with strawberries and shortcake sponges for dessert later in the week. It’s possible I ate the curd and cream off the serving spoons to minimize the clean-up 🙂
Real Devonshire Cream, aka Double Cream or Clotted Cream, is available to me locally at Fresh Market in a small jar for a lot of money. I found a recipe online that was fast and easy. I put the metal bowl and whisk attachment for my KitchenAid mixer in the freezer overnight. (Cream whips faster with cold beaters and bowl.) For each cup of heavy whipping cream that I used, I added a tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar to the cream and whipped it to stiff peaks. Once the stiff peaks formed, I added 1/3 cup of sour cream for each cup of cream I started with, and gently folded it into the whipped cream to avoid deflating the mixture. The sour cream and confectioner’s sugar help stabilize the whipped cream, and I stored it in a lidded container. It won’t last a long time, but I anticipate it lasting for at least two days.
I saw this beautiful blue-and-white footed Spode bowl, with a gorgeous scalloped top edge, and bought it for my collection of blue-and-white bowls. I thought the gold of the lemon curd would look as delicious in it as it does.
Makes 3 cups
3 lemons, rind removed with a large vegetable peeler (taking just the colored rind, not the bitter white pith)
1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar (instructions above)
1/4 lb unsalted butter at room temperature (1 stick of a pound package)
4 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup lemon juice (my lemons were juicy, and the three I zested had all the juice I needed; you might need another lemon to get as much juice)
1/8 teaspoon iodized table salt (1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt)
Put the zest in a food processor with the vanilla sugar. Using the steel blade, pulse/process until the zest is finely minced and combined with the sugar.
Cream the butter. Add the sugar/lemon mixture and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each fully before adding the next. Add the juice and salt; mix until combined.
Place the mixture in a medium saucepan. The mixture will look curdled at this point. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (when bubbles start to form around the edges, just below a simmer). As the mixture heats, it will come together and stop looking curdled. It is thick enough when you can drag a line through the curd on the back of a spoon and it doesn’t close up.
Remove from heat, strain, and let cool. I put it in quilted Mason jars, and let them cool on a wire rack before I put the tops and rings on. I wanted to make sure the curd was cool enough to go in the refrigerator without breaking the glass, but you can put it in sooner if using a plastic container.
Serve with scones or fruit. It’s also a tasty spread on toast or English muffins.