You know that old saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”? Well, thanks to a miscommunication and a family weekend away from home, I ended up with a pile of lemons and a pile of eggs, respectively. Too cold for lemonade, but together, the eggs and lemons fairly screamed lemon curd.
I’ve made lemon curd twice in my life, decades apart, and not in the last decade. I remembered it being messy and a lot of work, and oh so good, all that citrusy sweetness.
Those lemons stared at me. I had to give it a go. First, I needed a recipe. If only I’d followed it more carefully.
There were plenty I wanted to try, like this Best Lemon Bars recipe from The Food Charlatan. Just reading the recipe, I could taste that buttery cookie bottom, and that lemon curd? The thought of all that bright zest and sweetness in my mouth set my taste buds a rockin’ and a rollin’. But wow, look at all that sugar!
How about this Blueberry Lemon Bread Pudding on Eat Yourself Skinny? We do love a good bread pudding. It just didn’t look like it would use enough of the lemons. I saved it for another day.
Then I found Deliciously Organic’s Coconut Flour Cake with Lemon Curd, Strawberries and Cream. The one. For sure. I mean, you have to take a look at her photograph and tell me you don’t want to scrape some of that lusciousness right off the screen.
Right away, I knew I’d have to mix up the recipe a tiny bit. I only had a quarter cup of coconut flour on hand and on a rainy day like yesterday, no way I was walking to the store. I’d finish the cake with whole wheat. It usually does pretty well in cakes, if I add a little extra leavening. In fact, it didn’t do bad at all.
The three-year-old helped me measure out ingredients for the cake. She often asks, on her days here, if we can bake.
The cake turned out light and spongy to the taste, if a little dark to the eyes. But baking the cake was all I had time for yesterday, with an active three-year-old in tow.
Today, I made the lemon curd and whipped cream. At least I tried to make whipped cream. More on that later. Let’s get to the curd. It’s surprisingly fun and easy to make.
While the butter melted over a double boiler on the stove, I whisked together the rest of the ingredients, starting with the eggs, and thanks to a little help from my sweetheart, who zested the lemons for me.
It’s always more fun to share the cooking chores, don’t you think?
When the butter was melted, I added the lemon curd mixture slowly, at little more than a drizzle, whisking furiously all the while. Then whisked it for about ten minutes, until it thickened.
Removing the curd from the heat, I poured it through a fine-mesh sieve, collecting the zest. Of course, before I dropped the spatula in the sink for washing, I licked it clean. So good!
Deliciously Organic tells us to chill the curd two hours before spreading on the cake, but I didn’t have that much time. To hasten the cooling process, I poured the curd into a cool stainless steel bowl, then set that bowl into a larger one filled with cold water, and placed both in the refrigerator. Within forty minutes, the lemon curd was ready for the cake.
While the curd chilled in the fridge, I sliced the cake into two layers and prepared to whip the coconut cream.
Yesterday, in anticipation of making coconut whipped cream, I made coconut milk. Pulling it from the fridge, I found a nasty surprise. No stiff cream on top!
Whenever I’ve made coconut milk in the past, I’ve always found a nice layer of thick cream on the top after chilling. Just like dairy milk, the fat rises to the top, thick and oily, in a coconut-y way. But when I pulled my chilled milk from the fridge, all I had was thin liquid.
Okay then. Plan B. I had a small box of creamed coconut in the pantry, which I’d bought for a recipe and not used. Creamed coconut. That should work, right? Nope. What a mess.
How about I add a little coconut milk to thin it out? Well, that worked, sort of. The mixture seemed to be creaming. So I beat it, and beat it, and beat it. No volume. No peaks. How about adding a little coconut oil? Too cold to dissolve and whip, so I sprinkled a teaspoon of boiling hot water over it. That helped a bit. Looked like I was getting somewhere. I creamed and creamed some more.
Oh no! It’s separating. The fats coagulated and the liquid separated out, but not cleanly. All right. Let’s strain the liquid off and beat it some more.
Seems like I’m making progress. Yeah, it’s getting better, but still no fluff or peaks. I tried adding a little more coconut oil and it all got a little fluffier, so I beat it for ten more minutes. This is as good as it got. I added a couple tablespoons of honey to sweeten it and hit upon a new idea.
Plan C. I’ll add shredded coconut and make the topping thick instead of creamy. Yeah. That’s the ticket.
But when I spread it over the curd on the bottom half of the cake, it didn’t look so good. Tasted good though! I dropped the top layer on, spread the curd, and went to Plan D: Toasting coconut for the top.
Actually, strawberries being out of season, I’d planned to dust the top with toasted coconut all along. That part, at least, went as planned. I dropped a cup into a dry skillet and soon had a pile of white and golden goodness.
A twist of lemon rind was all that cake needed for an informal tea party with two of our grandchildren. We got out the matching plates, cups and tea pot my mama gave me when their mama was a babe and had a fun old time eating more cake than ever we should have. Hey, if we can’t over-indulge now and then, what are grandmas for?
The tots thoroughly enjoyed getting tea in grown-up cups, poured from a matching teapot. One day this set will belong to one of them, or to one of their cousins.
They had a blast looking at some of the other fancy dishes I got from my grandmothers and mother, chatting merrily about which ones they hope I’ll bequeath to them some day, “when you’re dead, YayYay?” “Yes, possibly when I’m dead, or when I’m very old.” “I think you’ll live to be as old as your mama. How old is she again?”
Mom is almost ninety-three, and perhaps I will live that long myself. None of these pieces I inherited from her and my grandmothers are worth much. All are well worn from use, but they are treasures nonetheless, because of the hands that held them.
As for that recipe, I apologize to Deliciously Organic for botching it, but it turned out fairly well, despite my mistakes. As my daughter says, butter and sugar (or in this case, honey) taste good no matter what you do to them.
♥ ♥ ♥
Here’s to laying the table with the French table cloth and that packed away dinner set, while serving salad in the Spanish bowl, and having champagne out of crystal champagne glasses while wearing a little bit of Chanel No. 5!