Strawberry Lemon Curd Cake

 

Cake Packets

A couple of weeks ago, our community held our annual International Day and Spring Fair.  This is an extravaganza where all of our various expat groups, alongside our host country, pull out the stops on their national pride.  There is a parade of national dress and flags, and then the highlight is two gymnasiums of food tables selling servings of favorite dishes from all of our representative countries.  You can very likely end up with a plate full of injera and kim chi, with a waffle on the side.  It’s weird, but fun.

The British table this year, rather than stooping to bangers and mash, sold tiny jars of lemon curd.  You can see my now empty lemon curd jar in the photo background below,  wearing its gingham cap. Having the occasion of a school bake sale, I made a couple of loaves of this moist, flavor-intense cake.  You could use any type of fruit.  The recipe calls for blueberries, but we have strawberries, and  I can imagine it with peaches or even figs.  We’re down to the dregs of our lemon season now, but next winter, when everyone is giving away their lemons again, I will use more  juice in batches of tangy lemon curd.

Both of the following recipes are from BBC Food Recipes, the British-speak just enhancing the mood.  I didn’t ice my cakes because they were so moist and nice without it.

 

Lemon Curd

  • 4 lemons, zest and juice
  • 200g or 7oz caster sugar
  • 100g or 31/2 oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 free-range eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  1. Put the lemon zest and juice, the sugar and the butter into a heatproof bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Stir the mixture every now and again until all of the butter has melted.
  2. Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolk and stir them into the lemon mixture. Whisk until all of the ingredients are well combined, then leave to cook for 10-13 minutes, stirring every now and again, until the mixture is creamy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally as it cools. Once cooled, spoon the lemon curd into sterilised jars and seal. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

 

Lemon Curd Cake

  • 175g softened butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 500ml tub Greek yogurt (you need 100ml/3½ fl oz in the cake, the rest to serve)
  • 300g jar good lemon curd (you need 2 tbsp in the cake, the rest to serve)
  • 3 eggs
  • zest and juice 1 lemon, plus extra zest to serve, if you like
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 200g punnet of blueberries (you need 85g/3oz in the cake, the rest to serve)
  • 140g icing sugar
  • edible flowers, such as purple or yellow primroses, to serve (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 160C or 320F. Grease a 2lb loaf tin and line with a long strip of baking parchment. Put 100g yogurt, 2 tbsp lemon curd, the softened butter, eggs, lemon zest, flour and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl. Quickly mix with an electric whisk until the batter just comes together. Scrape half into the prepared tin. Weigh 85g blueberries from the punnet and sprinkle half into the tin, scrape the rest of the batter on top, then scatter the other half of the 85g berries on top. Bake for 1 hr 10 mins-1 hr 15 mins until golden, and a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.
  2. Cool in the tin, then carefully lift onto a serving plate to ice. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in enough lemon juice to make a thick, smooth icing. Spread over the top of the cake, then decorate with lemon zest and edible flowers, if you like. Serve in slices with extra lemon curd, Greek yogurt and blueberries.

Lemon Curd Cake, 2

 

Citrus Preserves

The making of citrus preserves is a rite amongst the Tunisian ladies.  At work, various names pop up as the ‘divas of marmalade’ and when I get gifted a sample, from time to time, I am intrigued that they do vary in style and reflect the taste of the cook or likely several generations of cooks in that family.

There are two basic formulas for marmalade:

  1. Cook equal parts citrus to sugar until it thickens.
  2. Cook equal parts water and sugar with ½ as much fruit until thickened.

Method number one will produce a fruitier jam-like marmalade and number two will give you more jelly, which is beautiful.

We only eat a piece of toast with jam on occasion so I wanted to basically jar citrus puree that I can use for a lot of preparations in the months to come.  I used about 4kgs of sliced citrus to 2 kgs of sugar and cooked it down until thick.

Where the art comes in here, is in the selection of the citrus.  I do apologize to my friends who can’t get anything but basic grapefruit, oranges, and lemons at your local grocery store, but try to appreciate the diversity of some of these varieties that exist.  My friend, Fatima, gave me the insider combination for getting a range and depth of flavor.  Through some comical inquiry, I was able to round up all six of these at my market yesterday.

Beginning at the top, right, there is pink grapefruit, bergamot orange, blood orange, navel orange, bitter orange and finally, there is a strange-looking lemon that she only knew the Arabic name for: trong.  You can combine these in any proportion you want.  I wanted to emphasize the bitters in these preserves so I went easy on the navel and blood oranges and pumped up all of the others.  Bergamot is going to add a bit of mystery, contributing an Earl Gray tea essence, which is also a bitter.

Here are the final gems.  You can see that they contain a lot of fruit which will work well for a number of uses such as the following:

  • Puree one jar of preserves with 3-4 roasted green chilies for a salsa or marinade for braised or grilled meats, thinning as desired with chicken or vegetable stock.
  • Puree one jar to use in citrus cakes, muffins, or pies.
  • Use as a topping for panna cotta or shortbread cookies
  • Add to a chickpea soup or chile
  • Thin and then use to glaze a garlic-roasted chicken
  • Serve as a chutney alongside a roasted tomato/ricotta/roasted onion tart