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Real Homemade Lemon Curd, Meringue Pie!

                   
A lemon kissed, summery helloodles, one & all!

I love love love a real, from scratch, homemade lemon curd. Nothing compares to the rich, unctuous, tart & tangy, silk, of a bright curd. We have company coming today who have absolutely zero food allergies so I bought a bake yourself, gluten-filled yuckie crust for them, (Even touching flour makes me sick.) & I am making a mini GF pie in a bowl on the side for me. Do not be deterred from having guests who don't need to stick to GF, instead work with it. Usually I make my own crusts from scratch without gluten but my injuries are acting up & this was short notice. So here is a breakdown of what to do to achieve a brilliant lemon curd, feel free to substitute limes instead, and this recipe calls for butter. I tolerate butter but no other dairy. If this is a problem for you, I recommend doing a combo of a fruity mild olive oil 1/3 cup and add three Tbs of cold pressed organic coconut oil. I add a pinch of sea salt to this mix when melted, stir it well, then freeze it so I can break it into cubes and whisk the emulsion into submission. Be aware this will change the taste of your curd and use a VERY light olive oil that was cold pressed. Feel free to cut it with grape seed oil if you like, although olive oil and lemon has become a very popular combo in the baking world, as of late. Up the sugar and vanilla a touch if needed. 
So without further ado I present the recipe. As always it is gluten free and I added 1/4 more of everything to have enough for my extra, on the side safe GF dessert. Pics follow minus the ingredient pics- I forgot. 
I also will add what you need for the meringues and simple GF crust to make a pie.


Real Lemon Curd:
-4 egg yolks (I used 6 to have extra) keep the whites separated with no yolks aside for the pie!
-1 tsp real vanilla
-2 lemons zested
-2/3 C lemon juice no pits!
-1/2 C sugar (fine)
-4 small drops organic natural yellow colour (I buy from www.naturesflavors.com)
-1/2 C demi-sel (half salted) butter, cut in cubes and kept chilled in the fridge. Never ever room temperature or melted!

Method:
-Fill a small pot 1/4 of the bottom with water and heat on medium high heat, don't boil! Just under a simmer, no bubbles break the surface.
-In a medium sized bowl whisk together, yolks, sugar, and vanilla, until well mixed.
-Continue to whisk & slowly add the lemon juice, so as not to burn the yolks with the acid. (Yes, the acid can "cook" the yolks)
-Whisk in zest and then place your bowl on the pot filled 1/4 of the way with water that you heated. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of your bowl, if it does empty some as you have too much. This is your double boiler to cook your egg mixture more slowly without direct heat that often results in scrambled lemony eggs instead of lemon curd.
                  
-Now constantly whisk your mixture, you want to cook and thicken your curd. Be aware that this process takes time and you can NOT stop the whisking. That means no walking away, no phone calls, zero distractions! Become one with the curd. (giggles are acceptable)
-As it cooks and you constantly whisk, switching hands as you need to rest one or the other, you will notice the colour and texture will change. It needs to feel thicker when you whisk and must coat the back of a spoon. Chefs call this, Napper la cuillier. 
-When it coats a spoon and you can draw a line through it with your finger that holds, immediately remove it from the heat.
              
-Now for more whisking, this is the exciting part! All the time whisking, add 1-2 cubes of the CHILLED butter. Whisk each one in thoroughly before adding the next one. This is am emulsion, you must be sure the oil is well incorporated each time before continuing or else your curd will break and become all streaky, fat separated, & it will be time to try try again. ((hugs if this happens))
               
-Keep going until all the butter is incorporated, I sometimes need to place the bowl back on the double boiler for 15-25 seconds to warm it again if the butter drops the temp too quickly. Just be careful when doing this.
                
-Add your food colouring to brighten up the yellow a bit by whisking it a few seconds.

-At this point you may keep your curd in a jar in the fridge and feel free to eat it with fresh blueberries, or on scones or toast, or use in a few days to fill a cake. Or snack it straight out of the jar, Mine never lasts more than 3-5 days because it always gets eaten. I found this pic on the net of curd in a jar as I seem to have deleted mine, but you get the point.

Below is mine as I "taste test" the batch, don't allow anyone to deter you from this task. It is of utmost important that you do this, you are taking one for the team. You're so good, all you do is give, give, give. (hehheh)
            
-Chill the pie with Saran wrap touching the curd, so as not to get skin.
-Let chill for 4-5 hours. Put the meringue on it just before serving. Recipe follows.

Okay, now I am going to walk you through pie crust and the dreaded meringue. I have come to understand that people feel very intimidated by meringue, it's really quite simple and looks oh so elegant. I am going to do a home style meringue for you today, there is another recipe that gives a much smoother and higher end, professional, finished product; but that involves sugar syrup, proper temp, exact moments, and a big mixer. So...not today.
So for the crust, I can't even touch gluten anymore so the guest crust is one I bought in the store and baked as per the package directions, making sure to dock it (poke holes) using a fork. It's the big guy in the pics on the right.
Gluten free crust for my single serving used 3/4 C of ground almonds, 2 Tbsp of melted organic coconut oil, and 1tsp of Organic honey.
           
I mixed it all together and pressed it into the bowl gently, just like graham crumbs.

Then I took a damp new paper towel and cleaned up the bowl before pouring the filling into my bowl and then the rest into the cooled pie shell.
           
               
               
                 And they looked very pretty once the curd was in:
               
Now for the meringue:

Use the 6 room temperature egg whites with absolutely no yolk or fat in them. They won't whip up if there are even trace amounts of fat in them or on any of your equipment. Start whipping them with a hand blender until they are foamy.
             

Add 1/4 C of fine sugar and continue beating. You will notice that with the addition of sugar the texture changes and you start to get a glossy product which begins to rise very quickly.
         
            

Top left are soft peaks, keep whipping until you get stiff perks but not beyond that or your meringues will become rocky and then they will fall. Never to rise again and then you must start anew and try try again. ((hugs if this happens with a spot of tea))
On the right is what you are looking for, big brawny tough guy meringues that hold their curves. I actually went a bit too far and they ended up a bit grainy, I had to walk away from them for a while to answer a call and ended up needing to re-whip them because they began to fall, don't do that! My family is not picky so they got the pie with the grainy meringue. Eat it and like it!
Heat your oven on High broil.
Now start spreading on your chilled curd filled pies my friends and just have fun spreading and lifting to make peaks, or pipe it if you like. 
                
              
Now with your oven mitts on and with great loving gentleness, place those beauties on the rack and turn them every 20 seconds just til they get perfectly golden. This happens VERY quickly, like, less than 2 mins. so don't leave or answer phones or get distracted. Otherwise all your effort will be for naught!
This is what it all looks like along with the finished pretties!
               
            

             
Enjoy! 
BTW, if it's a really hot summer day, really keep these in the fridge, super cold, and don't leave them out before cutting and serving, They will melt and your curd will NOT hold-up. You can add a packet of dissolved gelatin to the still warm curd to help it hold its shape if you need to travel with this pie in warmer weather.

Things to Consider



It's easy to become lost in the muck that clutters the mind, wears away at self confidence, degrades self-esteem, and somehow infiltrates to a point where we replace truth with distorted concepts of self. We live in a world of unrealistic expectations, where people take advantage of kindness, where those who are in the wrong expect you to swallow their sinful version of truth, where those who are caught in the struggle of trying to live have to shut up and take it to be able to barely survive, where profit before people and planet mentality, is considered acceptable. 
I struggle with the way the world works,(or doesn't) and how broken so many people are because of the inconsiderate, greedy, impatient, cruel, corrupted, self-serving, and dismissive few. What is happening in so-called "third world countries", (a term I have always found offensive, so easy to pretend it's further away and not our responsibility if we distance ourselves by embedding in our subconscious minds that it's on this planet but kind of not) and I am well aware that this is the beginning of horrible times to come, that will have dire ramifications and impact on all of us. 
It is time to pay the piper and the past has not been kind to the gluttony of the rich and well off. 
French revolution sound familiar? 
We are at a cross roads in our society, a place where great change caused by dire consequences must come about. 
Historically, we have been here before. Civilization's all over the world have reached these high peaks of existence, waging wars, spreading propaganda and distraction to keep people blind to the truth, eating up every local resource, destroying eco systems, continuing to behave wastefully when the environment has proved it to be unsustainable, placing destructive physical and financial burdens on the lower classes, flaunting riches and privileged lifestyle in the faces of those who can barely afford to eat, all the while disdaining and brutalizing the "peasants" who make their lavish and reckless ways possible. 


I have always been aware of the tremendous inequalities on this planet and have never wavered in my desire to affect positive change. It's just part of who I am and being compassionate comes easily, seeing what people want to avert their eyes from or want to pretend is not there, has never been something I could do. Does it make life hard? Sometimes but I truly give thanks because I like this trait and feel it's something precious I value more than any precious metals, jewels, places, or things. 





I remember 3 very important moments from my youth: 

1- Was seeing a commercial at the age of 6 while watching the Saturday morning cartoons. It was an ad for the peace corps, bringing water and hope to those most in need. The toughest job you'll ever love. I ran to the kitchen and told my mom that I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. Join the peace corps and help others. 

2-Was seeing homeless, young and old on the streets, and not understanding why no one cared or even saw them. 

3-Was hearing this quote:

I believed that I could change the world, all by myself, I would make it right. 
As time, life's struggles, injuries, failures, disappointments, and systematic oppression became glaringly obvious, I became quiet, unsure, lost confidence, and settled into the grinding pressures we all too often succumb to. 
The good news is that it is never too late to pick up the mantle once more, cast off the rotten rags of the enemy's mental oppression, and say goodbye to what no longer serves or benefits and has actually become of detriment. 
A few things to consider... 










This is a great calling, a blessing, and I pray that God is not disappointed in the way I am expressing this need to help and do for more than myself. I prayed for a sign that I was walking in the right direction and feel so humbled, and utterly grateful to the Lord for answering me. Remember this dear one's, you are not alone and these messages are the one's we all need to take to heart and spread:





Lemon Burst & Blueberry Cake for Father's Day for Baker Newbies and the Rest of us!

                          

Hello People!

It is time to celebrate Dad, with a simple cake that looks beautiful, is citrusy, loaded with bluebs and has a minimal decorated look for those of you who do not feel at ease using frosting tips. (Or frosting, for that matter.) This recipe is really broken down for you, will be exactly what the not-so-great in the kitchen, peeps need!
I have come to find that lemon and blueberry is quite the hit with men, women, old,and young alike; usually these ingredients are not too difficult to find either, so this Father's Day-Let them eat cake!
                         Image result for fathers day memes                               

I can assure you that Dad will appreciate you doing something nice for him, especially if it means you made the effort and went all out.
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I prefer organic lemons when I make confections, that is because I need the zested peel and I prefer to not have any hidden chemical surprises that can add bitterness to a recipe. Believe it or not, I have had it happen in the past and it was so odd and unexpected. You can find organic lemons in most grocery stores nowadays, I make the extra effort to go to the health food store and support local farmer's, whenever I can. It's better for the economy and less likely to come from dubious sources. Always look for the number 9 at the beginning of fruit code stickers. 9=organic!
Oh! What a time to be alive!
                         Image result for organic lemons
I also dipped into my supply of frozen blueberries from an eco farm I zip to, several times a year, that has gorgeous and delectable blueberries!
                                       
As for the cake, I needed to test out Bob's Red Mill vanilla cake mix and felt it was perfect for those of you not too savvy in the kitchen, or perhaps unsure in the gluten-free baking domain, or just pressed for time. Whatever your reasons, I decided to use them to test them for possible cake orders in the future and to see how much I could play with adding ingredient's to it.
                   
You can find Bob's Red Mill products on-line here:
http://www.bobsredmill.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=cake+mixes+gluten+free

http://www.bobsredmill.com/

I found mine at the health food store but they are often in local grocery shops now too!
It was on special and cost me under $5.79

   To keep this cake more basic, I also used an American buttercream recipe, as it is way less complicated, uses easily sourced ingredients, and does not require the most special equipment or skills to make.
The only drawback is that it is a much sweeter frosting, I do find it too sweet but I tested this cake on my colleagues at work and the consensus was that it was delicious, not too sweet, and the cake was devoured away with nary a crumb left.
Only myself and a friend, we have both cut out regular sugar-found it to be too much. I was informed that this is what happens when cutting out sugar but colleagues would be glad to eat my piece for me. How cheeky!
I made this cake in two small 6" cake rounds because I was making it for very few people, did not want leftover cake, and have always found small cakes too cute to resist; plus they are way less surface area to have to decorate. You may use two 8" cake pans if you prefer.
As I stated before, I have provided this recipe with major breakdown for those of you who really struggle with baking or are total baking newbs. Be brave, don your aprons and go forth with spatulas in hand!
A few important words of advice before you dive in, as I have found that most people fail at baking because they do not respect all of the following. Pay attention and just do it, your cake will come out beautifully!

1)Read through the Entire recipe 2 times to make sure you get it and are clear on how it all needs to be done.

2)Make sure you have all the ingredients & equipment required. Do not proceed if you are missing the necessities, otherwise you are throwing time, money, effort, and expectation in the garbage.

3)DO NOT change up a recipe that you have never tried before or just want to play with because you think it could work. Listen to me, baking novices, baking is a CHEMICAL reaction.
YES, it really is!
You mess with the balance of that and your cake will flop, no rise, won't cook all the way, will be too runny, too hard, etc. It is an inevitable truth, whatever disaster could happen will befall the baker who does not respect the cardinal rule of baking! Respect the recipe!
It is a Chemical reaction not a science experiment!

4)Do what professional Chefs do, measure out all your ingredients before hand, place them in a bunch of smaller bowls, have them at the ready to add as you need them, so you are not over taxed and stressed as you bake. It is called M.E.P.  aka Mis-En-Place  aka Get it all ready and in it's place before you start fool!!!!!!

5)Get all your equipment ready, that means organized and not a mad scramble or hunting game in the middle of baking.
Ooops, you mean I don't own a zester? Oh poop!

6)Preheat your oven to the stated recipe temperature before you begin baking!

7)Do not answer phones, or text, or allow yourself to be distracted. Focus! Total focus on the task at hand, tell them you took a day trip to Nepal (yes, they should not believe you) you were being interrogated by aliens in sombreros, or that you were on a heady raspberry cordial drinking binge. Do what you gotta do, all tech off, just focus on baking time.

8)Once the cake goes in the oven, do not be loud, do not slam doors, quiet, so as to avoid a cake fall.

9)With gluten-free baking, it is best to not use glass bakeware or dark bakeware as the flours are more delicate and prone to burning. Regular light bakeware is best. It is also important to turn the pans halfway at the mid baking point. If the recipe says bake an hour, 30 minutes in, gently and using an oven mitt, turn the pans half-way, to ensure even baking; and gently close the oven door if it is cake-no falling cakes!

10)Be fearless, have fun, get messy, and make mistakes in the kitchen!

Without further ado, here is the recipe for the cake and the frosting follows down below. As usual, there are pictures to help guide you after the recipe, to make the steps as easy as possible to follow.



LEMON BURST & BLUEBERRY CAKE WITH LEMON BURST BUTTERCREAM

(The lemon in this recipe can be replaced with orange, or you can use lime and frozen raspberries instead of blueberries)

Equipment:

-2 x 6" (or 2 x 8") cake pans lined with parchment paper rounds at the base and sprayed with no-stick baking spray.

-Large bowl for mixing dry ingredients and small bowls for keeping wet ingredients at the ready.

-Glass measuring 2 Cup measure & regular measuring cup set and measuring spoons.

-Whisk and a citrus zester

-Rubber spatula for scraping down bowls

-A standing mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer with beaters

-A wooden spoon for mixing dry ingredients

-A wooden skewer or cake tester for checking doneness of cake

-A small metal baking spatula for decorating

-A knife with a serrated edge(teeth) for cutting cooled cakes in half

-Parchment paper & a non-stick baking spray

-A 6" or 8" cake base or plate, depending when and how you plan on serving your cake.

-2 Hot stones for cooling the cakes in the tins, just out the oven for the first 15 minutes.

-A cooling rack for the cakes to be gently turned out onto, to cool when removed from the bake tins.

-Cake dome for storing finished cake. (You can saran wrap it on a plate too)

Ingredients:
(Do not follow the ingredients listed on the back of the Bob's Red Mill cake mix directions, use the one's listed below that I know work-chemical reaction!)

1 x 453g Gluten-free Vanilla Cake mix from Bob's Red Mill
3 eggs
1/2 Cup Unsweetened almond milk "buttermilked" by adding 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and stirring it through once then allowing to sit for 3 minutes. Can use any unsweetened milk of choice.
1/4 Cup Vegetable oil
1/4 Cup freshly squeezed lemon juice or bottled
1 tsp Real vanilla extract
Zest (the yellow skin ONLY) of an organic lemon
1 Cup frozen blueberries (keep frozen until ready to use, I mix 1 Tbsp rice flour with these before gently folding them in the recipe at the end, to keep the berries from sinking to the bottom of the cake)

Method:

-Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

-Prep baking pans by lining the base of each one, with a cut out circle of parchment paper and spraying the sides with a non-stick baking spray. Keep aside but close by.

-In a large bowl combine the cake batter and zested lemon, using the wooden spoon stir through.

-Make a well in the middle of the dry cake batter mix, add eggs, oil, milk, vanilla, and lemon juice. Quickly whisk all together until well incorporated and no lumps remain.

-In a bowl, add frozen blueberries and add the 1 Tbsp of rice flour to keep the blueberries from falling to the base of the cake when baking. Gently fold the blueberries into the cake batter, being careful to only stir slightly. You do not want a blue coloured batter, it takes 1-2 stir throughs to get the blueberries evenly distributed throughout the batter and to keep the batter a golden yellow with a few blueberry streaks.

-Evenly pour half the batter into one cake pan and then pour the remaining half batter into the other cake pan. You need to ensure that the batter is evenly portioned out between the pans so you can have even layers.

-In the preheated oven, place both pans in the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes, then turn the pans halfway while wearing oven mittens, and cook for another 20-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of each cake comes out clean. (No wet batter or wet crumbs cling to the wooden skewer or cake tester)

-Remove cakes from oven, allow to cool on hot stones for 15 minutes. Turn oven off.

-Once 15 minutes have passed, very gently, turn cakes over and remove one at a time from each tin and place on the rack. Allow to cool completely.

-Using the serrated knife, carefully cut a thin portion off the tops of the cakes just to make them even and more flat. It won't be perfect, it's cake but you can get pretty darn close. (See pics below)

-Cut both cakes in half.*

*At this point cakes can be wrapped and frozen for 1 week, or can be served as is with fresh lemon curd and whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream.(Recipe for lime curd which just needs to have limes swapped out with lemon, and a recipe for dairy-free coconut whipped cream links are below) Or I wrap them and freeze them for 1-2 hours and make the frosting recipe, that follows down below, and decorate. This cake keeps well on the counter overnight if it is cool, keep it under a cake dome, or keep refrigerated in a cake dome for up to 3 days.

                                      
                           





 The last pic up top is a technique Chefs use to keep sliced cakes moist, they use a simple syrup to moisten the layers, one at a time, just moments before frosting. It helps the cake retain moisture, helps keep crumbs down, and aids in keeping a nice texture to the finished product. Do not panick, if you serve the cake, the same day you make it, it won't be a problem. If you want an easy faux syrup recipe, I have had to use in a pinch in professional settings, use about 1/2 Cup of juice or liquid that matches the flavour of the cake, mix in 2 Tbsp real maple syrup,stir well and using a pastry brush gently pat some of the liquid on each layer. DO NOT drown the cake, it's just to keep it from drying out, you are not looking to drench, it's a gentle pat.

http://bienconfitglutenfree.blogspot.ca/2016/11/pucker-punch-lime-curd-also-for-lime.html

http://bienconfitglutenfree.blogspot.ca/2016/10/vegan-coconut-whipped-cream.html

LEMON BURST BUTTERCREAM
               
(I am giving you a base Vanilla Buttercream recipe that I used half of, I added lemon juice, zest, and colour to half and the other vanilla bean part I froze, to use at a later date. I always like to keep some on hand, in case something comes up. I also tried to do a reduced recipe and found it was horribly sweet, so to preserve taste, I recommend doing this whole recipe; especially as it is an American Buttercream which are nothing like smooth Italian buttercreams, and have always leaned towards the sweeter end of the spectrum. They are however, quick to make, and perfect for beginners. The lemon in this recipe can be replaced with orange, or you can use lime.)

Ingredients:

1 Cup half salted butter softened
5 Cups Vegetable shortening
5-6 Cups SIFTED icing sugar (This is to your "sweet" preference)
2 Tbsp real vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
-Zest of 1 organic lemon
-3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
-a few drops of natural yellow food colouring. (I like nature's flavors, link is below)

Method:

-In a mixing bowl, (I use a kitchen aid but you can use a bowl with hand beaters on an electric hand mixer) add softened butter and shortening, beat until very well incorporated, no lumps, just smoothly blended together. Scrape the bowl down several times during mixing process. 

-Add half of sifted icing sugar and beat until incorporated.

-Add last of icing sugar and vanilla extract and sal. Beat for several minutes until well incorporated.

-Freeze half of this mixture, to remaining half, add zest of 1 lemon and 3 Tbsp lemon juice, beat until well mixed.

-Add a few drops of yellow food colour to get desired icing colour. (optional)

-Use to decorate your cake as you like.

         









Using the flat of a small spatula, you can easily make pretty furrows in the frosting by drawing it from the outside to the center, and gently applying a light pressure as you draw it in a curved swirl. The center will have a small glob of extra frosting from the dragging in, just carefully remove it with the tip of the frosting spatula. 

Spatulas can be found at Michael's, Target, Small Bakery equipment shops, and on-line.
Image result for small wilton frosting spatula


Feel free to decorate it with fresh blueberries, sprinkles, whatever you like, or you can keep it as is. 










https://www.naturesflavors.com/

Have fun and please try to steer away from another tie for the Dad in your life, beyond what most people believe, Dads do want nice things that THEY like and can use for Father's day.
                        Image result for fathers day memes     

Some idea's to help you out on your gift giving quest:
                                     Image result for fathers day gift memes   
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/344103227770225540/


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