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Lemon custard is a form of custard that is made with lemons. Custards can be flavored with a variety of substances, and they may be eaten plain, used to fill various desserts, or frozen for use in layered mousses. Lemon custard is closely related to lemon curd, although the two foods are slightly different. This tasty custard is relatively easy to make and fun to experiment with.
A custard is made by heating eggs, milk, and sugar together slowly so that the mixture thickens, but does not curdle. After heating, the custard can be poured into a mold to create a set shape, or it can be used as a filling or spread. In addition to being made the old-fashioned way, custard can also be made from various mixes, although the texture and flavor may suffer. In the case of lemon custard, the custard has a rich, lemony flavor which is created with the addition of lemon juice, lemon extract, and/or lemon zest.
The trick to making a custard is beating the eggs, sugar, and flavoring together until they are creamy before slowly adding scalded milk. The mixture will need to be stirred constantly to prevent curdling, and many cooks like to run custard through a sieve after it has been mixed to remove large chunks. Some common uses for lemon custard include individually molded custards, filling for a pie, or a layer in a cake.
To make a basic lemon custard, beat three whole eggs, four egg yolks, two thirds cup sugar, one quarter cup lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and the zest of one lemon together until the mixture is creamy. In a heavy saucepan, scald three cups of milk or cream together with a whole crushed vanilla bean. Once the milk has scalded, pour it through a sieve or some cheesecloth, and then stir it slowly into the egg mixture.
Your lemon custard can be baked in oiled ramekins or used as desired. If you plan to bake the lemon custard, you may want to allow the mustard a day for cooling and setting after baking, and you can consider garnishes like whipped cream, lemon bark, or lemon flavored cookies to accompany the custard when you serve it. If you intend to use the custard as a filling in cookies or cakes, cook the mixture gently over a double boiler until it thickens, and then refrigerate it, tightly covering it with a sheet of plastic wrap to prevent the formation of a skin on the custard. You can scoop out helpings of the refrigerated custard as needed.
This is one way to do it, I suppose, but I've always had much better luck with custards when I used a double boiler. You don't even have to have a double boiler in your cookware set -- just use a small metal or glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl.
Also, as a veteran of more than a few banana puddings where a custard is used, I mix the butter, sugar and scalded milk together, along with some cornstarch or flour for thickening, until it does thicken. Then I whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and temper them with a little of the warm milk mixture to
warm them gently.
I also whisk vigorously as I add the eggs to the rest of the milk mixture, which helps keep the eggs from scrambling.
It's also never a bad idea to strain the warm custard through a sieve to catch any bits of egg that might have scrambled.
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