Cakes and Curd

Fruit curds are the tarter yet richer siblings of syrups and jams. Learn to make Berry Curd and Gingerbread Pancakes. Get breakfast recipes at
If you’ve only ever poured maple syrup on buttermilk pancakes, this week’s recipe pairing will blow your mind. Fruit curds are the tarter yet richer siblings of fruit syrups, jams, butters, and even sauces. Unlike these high-heat, bubbly creations, fruit curds cook low and slow, until their blend of juice, sugar, eggs, and butter becomes silky smooth. One bite of a fruit curd and you’ll want to use it as a spread on baked goods, a filling for shortcakes or layered cakes, a dipper for fresh fruit, a swirl of flavor in Fresh Yogurt, or even a sneaky spoonful eaten straight from the jar.

Just to up the ante, I like to pair luscious, jewel-toned berry curd with pancakes darkened by molasses and spices. Most gingerbreads are made as desserts and rich in butter, refined sugar, and egg, but the fruit curd topping covers all of those bases. For breakfast, all of those elements can be cut or scaled back to focus on warming spices and bittersweet molasses.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 4 main ingredients plus a little lemon juice and salt.
1. Strain the juice from the berry pulp.
2. Cook the remaining ingredients low and slow until silky.
3. Fold in the fruit juice and enjoy.

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Berry Curd

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
This is a basic recipe, giving you the ratios and techniques that I’ve found to work best for a tasty fruit curd. For flavor ideas, read the Tips & Tricks that follow the recipe.
8 ounces (about 2 cups) berries, fresh or frozen and thawed
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1/2 lemon, juiced (or about 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Using an immersion or upright blender, puree the berries. Set a small-holed mesh sieve over a large glass measuring cup. Pour the berries into the sieve, and then use the back of a spoon to press and scrape the juice through the mesh until you have at least 3/4 cup of seed-free puree.

Combine the sugar, salt, and egg yolks in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan; whisk in the lemon juice. Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent boiling, for 10–15 minutes, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Add the butter a piece at a time, stirring until it’s melted. Fold in the berry puree, adding 1/4 cup at a time to keep the curd from becoming too thin; save any remaining puree for another use.

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Pour the curd into two 8-ounce jars. Serve while warm (see below), or let the curd cool to room temperature and then screw a lid on each jar before storing in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 2 cups.

Tips & Tricks
  • This fruit curd starts by creating juice, so you can use many types of berries—blueberries, blackberries, huckleberries, lingonberries, gooseberries—or even other fruit. For extremely tart fruit, like rhubarb, you may want to add an extra 1/4–1/2 cup of sugar.
  • I like the impression of fresh berries even in winter, so I thaw frozen fruit and separate the juice much like I would for Freezer-Based Fruit Syrup. Some curd recipes cook frozen or even fresh fruit to release the juice for a flavor closer to Roasted-Fruit Syrup. Try both methods to see which you prefer.
  • If you keep the heat on the lowest setting and the spoon moving, the curd should set smoothly. If chunks of curd or egg do form, press the finished curd through the sieve again. On your next attempt, try a lower heat setting and check that you’re stirring steadily with a wooden spoon; a whisk works well for combining the sugar and egg but adds too much air during the heating stage.
  • Although the National Center for Home Food Preservation says you can process pure lemon or lime curd, I don’t recommend it: canning changes the texture from silky to tough. If you have to keep any type of fruit curd longer than a couple of weeks, freeze it in small containers or an ice cube tray.

Fruit curds are the tarter yet richer siblings of syrups and jams. Learn to make Berry Curd and Gingerbread Pancakes. Get breakfast recipes at

Twice as Tasty

Fruit curds are the tarter yet richer siblings of syrups and jams. Learn to make Berry Curd and Gingerbread Pancakes. Get breakfast recipes at first tasted gingerbread pancakes—paired with lemon curd—at an attractive French-style bistro near my flat in San Francisco nearly 20 years ago. That Zazie is still in business in the city today says everything you need to know about the food. When I left the city, I knew I had to find a way to take that favorite breakfast with me.

Because every adventure took me ever farther from climates rich in lemons, I reserved gingerbread pancakes for a particular special occasion: the rare day when organic lemons were on sale in my local grocery store. Once I started growing and preserving fruit, I stopped making lemon curd and even gingerbread pancakes. As I was considering cravings and new comfort foods for this month’s posts, just the thought of these pancakes brought memories of San Francisco flooding back. It also prompted a what-if: What if I could use my homegrown fruit to make curd? The results are beautiful in the jar, on the plate, and in the mouth—particularly when they top gingerbread pancakes.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 4 main ingredients plus baking staples and a few spices.
1. Mix the dry ingredients.
2. Mix the wet ingredients, except the egg whites.
3. Beat the egg whites.
4. Combine all ingredients.
5. Cook in a skillet and enjoy.

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Gingerbread Pancakes

  • Servings: 12 pancakes
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
1-1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of nutmeg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup molasses
1-1/4 cups milk or Cultured Buttermilk
whites from 2 eggs
butter for cooking

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices. In a large glass measuring cup, mix together the butter, molasses, and milk. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with a hand or power whisk until they are stiff but not dry. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture, and stir the batter with a fork until just blended but still lumpy. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Heat a frying pan, greasing it generously with butter. Scoop the batter into the pan, 1/4 cup at a time, and form pancakes. Cook the pancakes until done, flipping halfway through. Serve immediately, or place the pancakes as they are finished in a single layer on a rack in a 200°F oven to serve them as a batch, with Berry Curd. Makes about 12 medium pancakes.

Tips & Tricks
  • I’ll always be a fan of Sourdough Pancakes, but the molasses–ginger combo is a close second. It gives you much of the flavor of Triple Gingersnaps without all of the sugar—depending on your choice of topping, that is.
  • Milk works well in these pancakes, but to boost the tang you can substitute Cultured Buttermilk. Don’t bother with “instant” buttermilk made by stirring lemon juice into the dairy; you’ll get better tang by sprinkling lemon zest over the pancakes when serving.
  • Because I’m usually pairing these pancakes with a fruit curd that uses just the yolks of eggs, I stick to egg whites in the batter; folding them in gently makes the pancakes extra fluffy. If you double the recipe, you can use all the egg whites left from making curd. If you’re just making pancakes, replace the 2 egg whites with 1 whole egg.
  • For a decadent breakfast, top these pancakes with Berry Curd and a sprinkling of Lemon Cheese. Other fruity topping options include syrups, jams, butters, and even sauces.

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