Luscious lemon cream does not necessarily require “cream.” The gorgeous texture of this lemon cream is the product of eggs, lemon juice, low heat, and gentle stirring. Emulsification creates a delectable, tart, floral pudding.
I had the pleasure of testing this recipe using Clark Library lemons with the help of guests at an event earlier this summer. (The same event where we tested The (Rosewater) Ice Cream.) The original recipe is from Margarett Greene’s recipe book (f MS.1980.004), dated 1701, now held in the Clark collections.
Take the white of 7 & the Yolke of 3 Egg, beat them very well & put to
them the Peel of one & juice of two Lemmons Stir it Soundly & put
in half a porringer of Rosewater & the like Quantity of fair
water, Sweeten it to your Tast, then Straine it & sett it on the
Fyre, & keep it Constantly Stirring untill it bee as Thick as
as you desire to have it.
After reading this recipe (and a few recipes for Lemon Cream in other books), I decided to follow a method similar for making Lemon Curd. I also investigated porringers, early modern cups that varied somewhat in volume. Food historian Ken Albala uses 3/4 cup as an approximate porringer measure in one of his accounts of recipe reconstruction and I followed his lead (81).
7 eggs (7 whites, 3 yolks)
2 lemons (zest 1, juice 2)
¼ c rosewater
¼ c water
½ c sugar
Zest one lemon into a small mixing bowl. (You can also peel the lemon and finely chop the peel.) Add the juice of the lemon that you zested and the juice of a second lemon. Add the rosewater and water. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Transfer the mixture into a saucepan.
Separate seven eggs. In a large bowl, combine seven egg whites and three egg yolks. Add the eggs to the lemon mix.
Over a low heat, whisk the lemon cream as it thickens for approximately 20 minutes.
Chill before serving.
Sharp with lemon, fragrant with rosewater, and just sweetened enough with sugar, this lemon cream delighted Clark Library guests, fellows, and staff alike. Although it does require some attention on the stove and careful egg-separating, its relatively easy to prepare.
When I make this again, I’ll chill it in a prepared graham-cracker crust.