Tag Archives: lemon curd

A Mini surprise for a Big birthday

At the beginning of October, I started my second new job since July after being made redundant just before the end of the summer term. This new position is a really exciting opportunity for me as I become Finance and Administration Manager for a local project and even though I never imagined myself being able to say this, I am now grateful for that redundancy as there is no way that I would have even considered applying for this post if I had still been working comfortably close to home. The biggest change has been the huge increase in my hours and I am fortunate that once again I have found an employer who has been understanding about our home situation with M and my current need to be able to work from home on a regular basis. Bearing all that in mind, you’ll understand why baking has dropped down to being a fairly low priority on my list and the presence of xxcakes or biscuits in our house has been practically non-existent. However, with Mike’s 40th birthday looming mid-month, I needed to find some time to attempt, yet again, a version of his all-time favourite dessert – Lemon Meringue Pie – that would not only keep him happy, but also allow G and M to enjoy it too.

Looking back at my blog posts from over the last few years, this isn’t the first time that I’ve tried to recreate this classic dessert, but every time something hasn’t quite gone according to plan, usually the egg-free, rice-based meringue for the topping. The discovery of both rice protein powder and rice vinegar on the on-line supermarket site, FreeFrom Market, suddenly made the prospect something more than a pipe-dream and the Friday before Mike’s birthday saw me desperately trying to whip up a batch of mini meringues, safe for all members of the family. I’ll be honest, the recipe still isn’t quite there and it’ll need some more tweaking to get my perfect meringue, but they tasted good albeit that they were a little stickier than I perhaps had in mind.

I had decided that trying to create one large pie really wasn’t going to be feasible when it came to either my few-ingredients short crust pastry or the meringue itself and so settled on baking mini pies that would be just enough for a rewarding mouthful. I converted a simple short crust pastry recipe to suit M’s allergy needs and, with a few adjustments along the way, managed to produce some fantastic pastry cases which, much to my surprise, baked beautifully and maintained their shape as they cooled. I had already decided to replace the lemon filling with generous spoonfuls of my M-friendly lemon curd and popped the filled tarts into the fridge to allow the curd to set before adding the final touches. As soon as the mini pies were chilled, set and ready to eat, I dropped img_12221a single mini meringue on to the top of each one before serving to my eager husband and child. I will add at this point that neither G or I partook in this particular delicacy – the sharpness of the lemon didn’t appeal to G and the sweetness of the meringue doesn’t agree with me and my T1D tastes. However, despite the fact that only 50% of the family chose to eat these birthday treats, they were extremely well-received and I am reliably informed by both the men in my life that the lemon zest in the pastry when combined with the sharp lemon and sweet meringue was a taste sensation they very much enjoyed.

The missing element

With only the occasional exception of the odd batch of chicken liver pâté, M has been consuming more than his fair share of dry rice cakes on a daily basis over the last 14 months. What started as a necessity because of his limited diet and the lack of finding a delicious and safe spread to use, continued because, however I looked at it, I couldn’t see a way to create that missing spreadable element. The recent discovery of a great rice cream which could be spread a little like butter has meant that things seem to finally be on the up as it not only provides a tasty addition to an otherwise inarguably bland food, but also adds some much-needed extra calories each day. Arsenic-levels-in-rice-crackers-and-Rice-Krispies_strict_xxlEven better, that upward trend continued this past weekend when, as Mike prepared some toast with lemon curd for my breakfast, my mind was drawn back a few summers to when I realised that I could make dairy- and soya-free lemon curd for the children to enjoy and I wondered whether I could take that original recipe a step further and produce one that would achieve M-friendly status.

To my delight, this looked to be one of the easiest recipe adaptations I’ve had to tackle in the last 15 months as there were only 3 ingredients to be replaced and all could be done in the simplest of fashions. My coconut milk became rice cream, the cornflour mix replaced by rice flour and the safe margarine could be substituted by coconut oil. Refusing to tell either M or G what I was planning, I sent them out on an errand to buy some more lemon juice from our corner shop and achieved a much-needed break from the near constant bickering we’d been subjected to so far that day. It was a beautifully sunny spring afternoon and I knew they’d benefit, not just from the feeling they were doing something useful for Mummy, but also from some sun, fresh air and a stretch of their legs. M was somewhat confused by my request as he was insistent I had more than enough lemon juice in the fridge already, but he was readily swayed by my demand for more and the promise of a special treat if it all worked out.

The process of making the lemon curd was actually a lot easier and quicker than I remembered. I have vague memories of making “proper” lemon and raspberry curd when G was in Reception as an end of year gift for her class teachers and remember standing at the hob, stirring the hot mixture until my arm both arms felt tired. I’m not sure why this recipe and method don’t take so long, but I’m definitely grateful for anything that takes less than 30 minutes to whip up these days. To my surprise, despite their initial interest, G and M soon became distracted by other activities and so I was able to finish the preparation and get the 2 jars into the fridge without them noticing. The distraction of a dairy- and soya-free chocolate fondue for pudding – my desperate attempt to use up as much of the leftover Easter chocolate as possible as sadly it’s not been a success for M – proved invaluable and Mike and I were able to hold off the big reveal until it became Sunday teatime. IMG_0277[1]The flavour is very sharp and not overly sweet and M has loved every mouthful, demanding it on a near daily basis for either lunch or a bedtime snack. G says she enjoys it too, though I’m certain she won’t be asking for it on anything like as regular a basis as her brother. Most importantly, it provides a break from the dry mouthfuls of rice cakes that M has become accustomed to and that, in my world, is absolutely priceless.