Fruit curds are the layabouts of the preserve family. Not for them any messing around with pectins and setting temperatures. All it takes to create this creamy, tangy, almost custardy treat is to stir the ingredients together for a while over heat. The downside is that whilst curds involve less work than jams and the like they also last for a significantly shorter time.
Luckily curds are well suited to all kinds of tea-time treats. You could spread some on a scone, or a split, or use as the filling for a sponge layer cake. Maybe fold it into whipped cream, broken meringue and flaked almonds for a curdy Eton Mess. My most successful use of this apricot and lavender curd has been mixing it with cream as the filling for eclairs that are given a white chocolate topping.
This is not the kind of curd that Miss Muffet of nursery rhyme fame was enjoying on her tuffet until that pesky spider came along. She was having the dairy curd that came first. Tarts of dairy curd, eggs and spices were popular in the early 1600s. Then as lemons became more available towards the end of that century they were added too and lemon curd was born.
It remains the most common flavour of curd you will find. This apricot recipe has more complexity and depth to it, I think. There is a hint of almond from the apricot stones being left in during the cooking process. It is the lavender, though, that gives this curd its subtle – almost hard to put your finger on – muskiness.
Apricot & Lavender Curd
You’ll need a jar which will hold 500ml.
- 420g fresh apricots
- 1.5 lemons
- 210g unrefined caster sugar
- 55g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 8 lavender heads + one extra
The curd cooks in a heatproof bowl that sits on top of a pan of simmering water – make sure that the water level in the pan does not reach the bottom of the bowl.
1. Cut the apricots in half and put them (with their stones) into a pan with enough water to cover the base. Cook the apricots on a medium heat until soft. It’ll take about 10 minutes, less if they were very ripe. Remove the apricots from the water to cool down a little and get the pan of simmering water ready.
2. Take the apricot stones out and put them into your heat-proof bowl. The apricots themselves need to be whizzed in a blender until pureed. Then they join the stones.
3. Add in the lemon juice and zest, the sugar and the butter. Set the bowl over your pan of hot water and stir until the sugar and water have both dissolved.
4. Lightly whisk in the eggs. Once it’s all totally mixed together put in the eight lavender heads.
5. Your curd will now take about 30-40 minutes to thicken up. Stir it regularly and you’ll know it’s done when it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Take it off the heat and allow to cool – it’ll thicken up even more as it does that.
6. The storage jar must be sterilised: fill it with boiling water, empty that out and lay the jar on its side in a low oven until all the water droplets have evaporated. Before you spoon the curd into the jar, put the extra lavender head in its base and remove the apricot stones and lavender from the mixture.
Your curd will keep in the fridge for up to a month.