Lemon curd and a sourdough bread

Lemon curd and a sourdough bread
In the middle of winter, a bowl of sunny lemons bring a certain, zest (to use a pun) to the kitchen: I might even have them just to look at on a gloomy day. By the end, the kitchen smells like a Sicilian lemon grove and my hands are tenderly stinging from the lemon’s sharply acidic juice.

I always have some lemons in the kitchen, and use them in almost everything; curd is one of the few times where they stand on their own. The key to a good curd is in the zest, from where the more delicate and fragrant lemon flavor comes from, rather than the harsher acidity of the juice. Use a sharp grater (which unfortunately I myself don’t have, resulting in a pathetic struggle with my blunt utensil to remove that elusive zest), taking care to only take the thin, yellow zest off the lemon, avoiding the bitter pith beneath.

Lemons and oranges
Aside from the obvious slathering on toast and spooning directly from the jar, try it as a base for tarts, topped with fresh fruits and berries, folded into softly whipped cream for a quick mouse or stir it into some milk or cream to a pourable consistency and churn into a tangy lemon ice cream.

I’ve included a recipe for bread, since (in my mind at least) there is nothing -almost, as satisfying in having both homemade bread and curd for breakfast. The recipe works for either sourdough (as I’ve used) or the more conventional baker’s yeast. If you haven’t yet started a sourdough starter, I highly recommend doing so. I haven’t included a tutorial here as there are lots of really good tutorials that others have written, a quick Google will uncover many. At its most basic though, all it involves is stirring together some flour and water and giving it some time for the naturally present yeast and bacteria to ferment it. Then once started, it is just a case of getting into the rhythm of sourdough breads: don’t expect it to double in size in an hour or two, rather let it rise slowly - looking around the 4 hour mark instead. Sourdough or not, the smell of bread baking in the oven is one not easily beaten.
Lemon curd

Makes 1 small jar of lemon curd

Juice and zest of 2 lemons
50g sugar (or less depending on how tart you like it)
75g butter
2 eggs

1. Mix together the zest and juice of the lemons, butter and sugar. Heat on a bain-marie until the butter melts and sugar dissolves.

2. Add the eggs and stir until the mixture cooks and becomes thick and custard-like. Pour into sterilized jars and store in the fridge.

Makes 2 baguettes or 1 small loaf

For the sourdough sponge -
50g sourdough starter (100% hydration)
25g water
25g bread flour
For the baker's yeast sponge -
75g bread flour
75 ml water
7g (1 sachet dried yeast)

For the bread:
the sponge
400 ml water
650g bread flour
10g salt
1 tablespoon oil

1. Mix together all the ingredients for either the sourdough or baker's yeast sponge and leave to ferment overnight or a minimum of 6 hours.

2. The next day mix together all the ingredients for the bread to form a dough. Knead until the dough feels elastic and forms a 'window pane' when stretched. Leave to double in size (although if using a sourdough

it might only rise to 1 1/2 times it's size after several hours which is fine).

3. Shape the dough into baguettes (tutorial here) - mine ended up more like cibatas, working lightly to preserve the bubbles of air (to make a large, irregularly holed bread) and again leave to rise until doubled.

4. Once risen bake in an oven preheated to 225C with a tray of water on the oven floor to create a steamy environment. Bake the bread for minutes, removing the tray of water after 20 minutes.

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