True story. A long time ago, I bought a blowtorch not so I could caramelise petit creme brulees, but so I could take to whole cakes with it.
When I wield the torch, I am Martha Rambo Stewart, applying a burnish to my cake with tightlipped concentration. In 2008 : A Baking Odyssey, I am the ape in a gingham apron, arms raised at the spectre of the monolithic blowtorch.
Cake is good, my friends. And fire? Fire is a beautiful thing.
It all started with the urge to make lemon curd, and eventually morphed into a lemon meringue cake, slathered with said lemon curd, lightened with some whipped cream. In case you’re wondering, yes, that is an excessively large cake. I accidentally made it one tier too tall than what I had intended. Once it was cut up, I got the boy to do the rounds of our apartment block, pressing plates of cake into neighbours’ hands. Luckily there were some takers, or we would still be eating the same cake, one week later.
My favourite lemon curd recipe comes courtesy of a pastry chef I once worked for. Amongst many other things I learnt from him, he taught me the best and foolproof (for me) way of making this luscious lemon curd. For something a little different, you can even substitute the lemon juice with yuzu, that rather special and very aromatic Japanese citrus fruit. Here in Sydney, bottled yuzu juice can be obtained at considerable expense, from Simon Johnson. Once you’ve tried it though, believe me, you’ll understand what all the fuss is about (and will subsequently manage to forget how much you paid for it).
Lemon curd :
finely grated zest of 3 lemons
160g lemon juice
4 eggs (should yield about 200g, once cracked)
300g cold unsalted butter, cubed
Mix the first four ingredients together well and place in a saucepan. Over low heat, cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Take the pan off the heat and gradually whisk in the cubes of butter, bit by bit. When all the butter has been incorporated, strain the mixture, chill over ice and then refrigerate, covered.