Autumn really is in full, blowy swing here in the Shropshire countryside. Plant life that was, until just a few weeks ago, greener than green, has been ripening to red and increasingly turning to toasted nut brown by degrees each day.
In tune with outdoor growing matter, as is our style, the Bred by Fred marketstall yesterday was awash with autumnal colours and flavours. We had (in varying sizes) chocolate & squash tarts, slices of pain d’épices (French-style gingerbread to you and me), apple & elderberry crumbles, red onion & sage tartlets, damson frangipane tartlets (since our tree is still clinging on to the last of those now plummy-tasting fruits), blackberry jam mini tartlets, red grape & rosemary sweet ladies’ tongues, as well as soda bread and Fred’s oh- so-chewily-good sourdough.
We did still have one item reminiscent of longer, possibly sunnier days, though. Our lemon and rose meringue tartlets.
Despite the onset of chilly breezes and the inset golden hues to the landscape, our garden is still pocketed with flashes of colour from our rose bushes. In between the odd downpour a few days back, I broke free of the kitchen long enough to poke my nose into a few of our roses and to steal the blooms from the more fragrant ones. These were carefully picked over for insects, separated into petals and upended, with the other necessaries, into a pan and turned into lemon & rose curd.
Unfortunately, the curd didn’t stay harlequinesque, since I always strain mine for consistency purposes, but it did look (and smell) beautiful while it was being made. Once it was finished, I left it to cool before tasting.
The rose flavour was subtle, but there.
Sadly, the amount I made was just enough to fill my 6, heart-shaped tart cases, so I had none left to play around with. Next time I make this though, it will perhaps be to sandwich some dainty little pistachio cakes, or to dollop onto some warm, orange butter scones.
Can someone please remind me I said that next summer? Tell me that I’ll find the recipe here. Thanks.
Lemon & Rose Curd
Unsalted butter – 75g
Caster sugar – 165g
Finely grated zest and juice of 3 large, unwaxed lemons
Eggs – 3
Egg yolks – 2
Rose petals (the most fragrant you can find) – a medium sized bowlful
In a bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolks together very well. Melt the butter over a low heat. Add the sugar, rose petals, lemon juice and zest and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then add the beaten eggs.
Stir carefully over a gentle heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. (Be aware that this can take a long, long time. We’re talking in excess of half an hour.)
Make sure that the pan is not allowed to get too hot during this time. You should always be able to place your hand against the side of the pan without burning yourself.
Once the curd has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, remove it from the heat and strain through a sieve into a bowl. Allow to cool (and it will thicken further as it does so), before covering with clingfilm and putting into the fridge, where it should keep for a week or two.