I don’t exactly remember when I first tasted lemon curd although it could easily have been at Radha Kaku’s Radha kaku was my great grand aunt (I don’t believe I haven’t written a post on her) and had a very strong influence in shaping my passion for food. At a time when baking was still rare in Indian households, she would use processed cheese tins to  make bread loaves in and use ajwain in her pizza dough to emulate the aroma of oregano.

One of my most vivid food memories of Radhu kaku is from when I was in school. Amma had to go out of town for a few days to tend to her ailing sister and because Radha kaku lived very close to my school, she was asked to bring me my after-school, before-dance-class evening snack. I will never forget the daintily packed high tea that I got to eat all those days. When the school bell rang out another day and children poured out the gates, I would run out and get into Madhav kaka and Radha kaku’s spacious old Ambassador and settle in snug between them while a prettily embroidered napkin made its way across my lap. I was then given a beautiful open-faced sandwich or warm, subtly spiced aloo tikkis, a glass of warm Bournvita and a painstakingly carved orange basket stuffed with a fresh fruit salad or jelly. I would then be guided into skilfully and modestly slipping into my dance class uniform in the car (I could have just as well done it in the loo in school!) and a hug later, I was out to (not) dance with a full belly.

Good times, those. But, I digress.

Last week, I saw some Italian lemons at the local supermarket and picked them up immediately, eager to get a little whiff of their much celebrated zest. That aroma is just the finest perfume I can think of. Not too tart, not too sweet; just right. This delicate, dreamy sort of fragrance that makes you feel elegant. It reminded me a little of Radha kaku. I asked around Twitter and Facebook for suggestions on what I should do with them but I think I always knew that I wanted to make Lemon Curd. I used Rachel Allen’s recipe, and it turned out SO beautiful! I just had to make a simple vanilla cake and slather the lemon curd all over it. I broke all my new year diet resolutions thanks to this recipe, and I still have some the cake beckoning me from the kitchen table.

I hope that powder yellow serenity invites you to try this recipe.

Ingredients:
For the Lemon Curd:

  • 75 gms. butter
  • 150 gms. caster sugar
  • 3 lemons, zest grated and juiced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk

For the Vanilla Bean Cake

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg white (left over from the curd)
  • 150 gms. caster sugar
  • 120 gms. butter
  • 150 gms. flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 3/4 cup lemon curd
  • 1 tbsp. icing sugar

Method:

For the Lemon Curd:

  1. Place the butter, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a thick-bottomed saucepan and stir continuously over low heat until the butter has melted. Take the saucepan off the heat.
  2. Beat the eggs and egg yolk thoroughly in a separate bowl.
  3. Add the beaten eggs to the butter mixture and whisk to combine.
  4. Return to low heat and whisk continuously until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Cool and transfer to jars.

For the Vanilla Bean Cake

  1. Sieve the flour and baking powder together.
  2. In a food processor, place the eggs, butter, sugar, and seeds from the split vanilla bean. Process until smooth and creamy.
  3. Pour into the flour mixture and fold lightly.
  4. Transfer to an 8-inch cake tin and bake at 180 degrees centigrade for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Remove the cake from the pan and allow to cool completely.
  6. Carefully slice the cake into two horizontally using a long and sharp knife.
  7. Slather a generous amount of lemon curd on one half and sandwich the other half over it.
  8. Decorate with a dusting of icing sugar.
  9. Place proudly on newly acquired cake stand adorned with doily and show off at tea time.