Poppy Seed Tea Bread
Poppy Seed Tea Bread with Lemon Curd
I am status post day #3 in a row of CrossFit. I Christmas shopped. I baked and cooked for 8 straight hours today. My body is sore, my mind is fatigued. My hands are cracked from all the dishwashing… and pull-ups.
But today was a fabulous day. Why??
Because I got to make lemon curd 🙂
Ahhh, lemon curd. Quite possibly my favorite British export, aside from my lovely British friend. It’s sweet, it’s tart, it’s silky, it’s delicious. It would make motor oil palatable. But how is it that so few Americans know of its existence?
I pondered this question as I popped in on all our neighbors to deliver Christmas cheer… and lemon curd. They get excited…
The Food Hound is coming! The Food Hound is coming! Maybe she’s made something fabulous for us! Oh, Food Hound, what is in your bag of tricks? *picks up container of yellow goo* Oh, this looks…. nice…. oh, it’s called lemon curd, you say? Are you sure there aren’t cinnamon rolls underneath it? No? Oh, ok… hmmm, the Food Hound brought us…. curd…. Have we done something to offend her?
I think it’s the name. “Lemon cream” or “lemon spread” would elicit more positive emotions. Curd? Not so much. But a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and so I made it my mission this Christmas to make my neighborhood curd-friendly. I have not heard any feedback yet, so I’m assuming it’s still in their collective fridges. Just like it took the Doberhound a little time to warm up to her first Christmas tree, it will take them a little time to get past the fact that something called “curd” can be fabulous.
Truth be told, the curd was not even part of my original gift. I made mini loaves of poppy seed tea bread to pass around, but it needed a little something extra. It’s delicious on its own, but it’s not like your typical quick bread– it’s much more dense and rich, but the actual flavor is delicate. Kind of like the theory behind why a scone needs jam and/or clotted cream. Come to think of it, “clotted cream” does not sound appetizing, either. Yet it’s fabulous. I think the Brits did this on purpose to be able to hog the world’s supply of lemon curd and clotted cream all to themselves. Cheeky blokes!
So I popped a few more lemons into the cart today and made myself a big pot of Christmas Curd, packaged it up, and delivered it with each delicious mini poppy seed loaf. And now I wait to hear the results of my efforts, not unlike the Grinch waiting to hear Who-ville wake up on Christmas morning to see the results of his more dastardly efforts. Except there is nothing dastardly about gorgeous, silky lemon curd 🙂
Recipe from Market Fare Restaurant (Lancaster, PA); now Carr’s Restaurant
Makes 9 mini loaves or 24 muffins
5 c AP flour
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 c canola oil
2 1/2 c sugar
2 c half and half
1 c milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 c poppy seeds
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl, set aside.
3. Combine oil, sugar, half and half, milk, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture. Stir in poppy seeds.
4. Bake until golden brown on top, about 40 minutes.
Adapted from Fine Cooking
Yield 2 cups
1 c fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 c granulated sugar
4 large eggs
4 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1. Set a fine strainer over a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk the lemon juice, sugar and eggs until thoroughly combined and most of the sugar has dissolved.
2. Pour the lemon mixture into a small, non-reactive saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently (I stir constantly) with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula until the curd is steaming (but not boiling) and thickened and registers 175 F on an instant-read thermometer, 3-7 minutes. *If you overcook, you will have to redo it because you’ll end up with lemon-flavored scrambled eggs. Not that I’ve ever done that…
3. Take the curd off the heat, add the butter, and stir until the butter has melted. Pour the curd through the strainer to get rid of any lumps. No matter how pretty or rich you are, you are not immune to small pieces of scrambled egg in your curd 🙂 Serve hot, cold, room temp– whatevs!!