Sunday, 16 March 2008


Oh lemon curd, where have you been all my life?

Well, obviously it's been around, as many food bloggers have sang its praises, though, alas, I had never tasted its wonderfully subtle lemony goodness. I love lemons and limes and I'd even gone so far as to buy a jar of lemon curd which was waiting for me, patient and unassuming, in the fridge, but I had never tasted it. I don't remember having a lemon tart or anything similar involving lemon curd either, so now that I have realised the wonder that is lemon curd, I rue that I have spent so long deprived of it.

Dramatic enough for you? To put it simply, I fell in love with lemon curd after tasting it for the first time this afternoon. Now, that's just not nearly as romantic as the feelings I had when I had my first bite and don't do it justice, so my first paragraph needs to stay.

I was reading through the archives of Not Quite Nigella's blog this afternoon and in a post somewhere (forgive me, I can't remember which one), she spoke about lemon curd. Obviously, whatever she said was so inspirational that I had to try mine. Since I am a little bit of a foodie (can you tell?) I had to make something so that I could try it in style. What's that you say? I can put it on toast? Bite your tongue! Something as mundane as toast just would not do for one's first taste of lemon curd. It had to be scones.

Wow, it seems I am a little theatrical today. Like a girl with her first love (sorry DD) I am in a swoon, dreaming of when I can next meet with my divine lemon curd... okay, I'll stop now.

Anyway, scones. I have a foolproof and much loved recipe that I always use for scones, but I had some Gympie Farm buttermilk in the fridge that needs to be used, so I went looking for a buttermilk scone recipe. I was sure I saw one in Dorie Greenspan's 'Baking: from my kitchen to yours', but I couldn't find it. Recipezaar came to the rescue, with a simple recipe for scones using the food processor. I've never used my food processor for scones before, as I've always relied upon my hands for rubbing in the butter and working the dough. I must admit, I don't like getting dough on my hands (it's too sticky - I hang my head in shame in front of the baking community) so I was quite happy to leave it to the mixer and later, a fork.

The instructions were to pulse the dry ingredients in the food processor and then add the butter, pulse until the butter is in hazelnut sized chunks. When I pulsed - and I didn't do it for long - and then checked, the butter had completely disappeared and I had the fine breadcrumb-like texture. You then add the buttermilk, mixing with a fork until "a shaggy mess" forms. Well, my shaggy mess was much too wet and I had to add flour to make it workable. It was really hard to tell the dough was too moist until I went to divide it up. So, I think that despite the fact I have to get my hands dirty it is worthwhile doing these kinds of things by hand. I was worried that the processor had overworked the flour and I wouldn't have added all the buttermilk if I was working the dough by hand, but you live and learn. And in the end, the scones turned out great. I skipped the freezer stage and baked for only ten minutes and the scones suffered no ill-effects.

They are sweeter than my normal scone, they have a taste that's reminiscent of a sweet tart pastry, thus perfect for lemon curd! They are light and fluffy and very soft. These are not a dense scone. I wonder at how they would stand up to the classic jam and cream combination - I feel that the softness of the scone and the softness of the cream is just a little too similar in texture and - in my infinite wisdom without trying them - I think that a more robust scone would be needed for a Devonshire tea.

These scones and lemon curd together were ambrosia. Salted butter worked well too, unsalted not as well.

Mean Chef's Buttermilk Scones
Adapted from newspapergal of Recipezaar

3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, very cold, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup buttermilk (or more if needed)
melted butter

Put dry ingredients in food processor, pulse to mix.

Add butter, pulse until butter is in pieces about the size of a hazelnut.

Transfer to a bowl, pour in buttermilk and mix with a fork until a shaggy mass forms.

Roll out until dough is approx 1/2 inch thick and cut into rounds.

Place on parchment lined sheet pan and freeze for 20 minutes.

Remove from freezer, brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for about 12 minutes at 200 degrees Celcius.

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