When it comes to eating at Easter, everyone thinks of two things – lamb and chocolate.
But it is early to find lamb, Scottish lamb, so I always opt for chicken. And what with Easter egg hunts, I think that a surfeit of chocolate is all too easily achieved, so my chosen flavour for an Easter feast is lemon.
April is the month when spring becomes a distinct reality, what with the lengthening light evenings and early mornings, the daffodils in a profusion, and lambs being born – except that they only appear in Skye, for the most part, towards the end of this month. But the trees are greening up, and somehow it is all so uplifting, even if we do have the occasional sharp weather shock from time to time during April, we know that summer is approaching!
Here are two lemon puds, either a very good idea for lunch or dinner on Easter Sunday. Both can be made a day ahead, so there is no need for last minute slaving in the kitchen with the inevitable sense of slight martyrdom that brings!
The cream can be whipped in advance, but check that it might require a bit more whipping up before you spread it on the roulade. The lemon curd can be made days ahead and stored in the fridge till required. I realise that we can buy lemon curd easily, but homemade is so vastly superior to any bought curd. And it freezes well, too, but for a limited time.
Double Lemon Roulade
FOR THE ROULADE
4 large eggs, the yolks separated from the whites
6oz/175g caster sugar
2oz/50g sieved ground almonds
Finely grated rind of 2 lemons
FOR THE LEMON CURD
Finely grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
4oz/120g butter, cut into small bits
1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks
4oz/120g caster sugar
1tbsp icing sugar, sieved, to garnish
Start by making the lemon curd – put the egg and yolks into a Pyrex bowl and beat to mix well. Add the lemon rind and juice, the bits of butter and the caster sugar and put the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts.
The curd will gradually thicken – stir until it does. Then lift the bowl off the pan, and cool, stirring occasionally as it cools. When cold, cover the bowl with clingfilm and store it in the fridge.
To make the roulade, put a small dab of butter in each corner of a shallow Swiss roll tin. Line with baking parchment – the butter makes the parchment stick to the corners.
In a bowl, beat the yolks and sugar very well until the mixture is pale and thick. Mix in the sieved ground almonds and the grated lemon rind.
In another bowl and using scrupulously clean and dried whisks, whisk up the egg whites with a pinch of salt – which gives an increased volume – until stiff. Fold the whisked whites into the lemon yolks mixture thoroughly – I find a flat whisk the most efficient for this. Pour into the parchment lined tin, smooth evenly, and bake in a moderate heat, 180C 350F, gas 4, for about 20 minutes – the flat baked roulade should feel firm to the touch, be risen and pale golden in colour.
Take it out of the oven, cover with a cloth and cool. It will shrink down.
To assemble the roulade, put a sheet of baking parchment on a work surface and dust with half the icing sugar. Remove the cloth from the roulade and tip it face down onto the parchment. Carefully peel the parchment from the back of the roulade. Spread the surface with whipped cream, then smooth half of the lemon curd over – do it in this order, first the whipped cream then the lemon curd – and roll up the roulade lengthways, and slip it onto a serving plate.
Remove the paper, and just before serving, dust it with the rest of the icing sugar. Slice thickly to serve.
Brown Sugar and Walnut Meringues with Lemon Curd and Whipped Cream
The meringues can be made 3-4 days in advance and stored, when cold, in an airtight box.
4 large egg whites
4oz/120g demerara sugar mixed with 4oz/120g granulated sugar
3oz/75g chopped walnuts – make sure they taste fresh, nothing is worse than a stale walnut!
Lemon curd – as in the above recipe
Line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Cut about 1
To make the meringues, whisk up the whites with a pinch of salt, until stiff. Then whisk in the sugars, a spoonful at a time until all the sugar is incorporated. Fold in the chopped walnuts – leave them out if you really don’t like walnuts – and fill the piping bag with the meringue mixture.
Pipe even sized meringues, making sure that you have at least 12. I think that making them slightly smaller in size and having more than one filled double meringue per person looks prettier on a serving plate.
When all the meringues are piped onto the paper lined trays bake them in a low temperature oven and leave for 2-3 hours to dry out till crisp. They should lift easily off the parchment.When cold, store them, carefully, in an airtight container.
To assemble, sandwich them together in pairs, and pile them on a serving dish – glass or white looks best. Serve the lemon curd in a bowl at the side, for your guests to help themselves to a spoonful at the side of or on top of each filled meringue.