Lemon curd Swiss roll

Similar to the chocolate savarin, today’s recipe title isn’t limited to “lemon curd Swiss roll.” Its full title is actually “Diana’s Mum’s Sunday Tea Lemon Curd Swiss Roll,” but since that title is convoluted and just way too long (come on, Diana), I’m limiting it to the basics.

My first Swiss roll.

I may have accidentally sprayed my recipe book whilst washing dishes.

It’s apparently a “simple whisked sponge” but it’s a two-spoon difficulty and I’ve never worked with Diana before. How do I know she’s not as misleading as Martha?

Unfortunately all I can do is trust, so we carry on.

First up, Diana calls for “slightly salted butter.” Already we’re having issues, Diana. I have either salted butter or unsalted butter, but because my salted butter is currently frozen, and my unsalted butter is waiting to be used, I went with unsalted and then sprinkled a touch of table salt onto it.

Possibly gross, or possibly super resourceful.

Then I read and reread and rereread the first step multiple times before starting. I was about to say that this is my first lemon curd, but then I remembered I once made a lemon meringue pie from scratch, so that must have been my first time making lemon curd, unless the lemon pie filling is different from lemon curd. Really the word “curd” is as appetizing as the word “digestives.” I’m not sure about these Brits. If they didn’t share a home with most of my favourite actors and comedians, we probably would be more at odds. I’m trusting you, Diana.

Next up, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Diana says that I’ll need finely grated zest and juice of two large (or two and a half medium) lemons. Alas, we have the same lemon-sized problem as last time. What constitutes a medium lemon? These definitely aren’t large lemons. Or are they? What is the standard lemon size? I decided to use up the lemon I used two-thirds of last time and then add two more lemons to the mix:

Note to self: when you know you’re going to be making a lemon-based bake when you get home from work, try not to give yourself a paper cut on your thumb at work. It doesn’t make this very easy.

Also further note to self: watch your fingers when you zest, because you almost injured your other thumb. You human disaster, you.

Not only did I manage to get the zest and juice out of these things, I also managed to get a good number of seeds that I then had to fish out:

This is when those juicer things come in handy. Alas, I have a bare-bones kitchen filled with the basics and my own ingenuity.

Next up, Diana tells me to put the slightly salted butter, sugar, zest and juice into a “heatproof bowl” to set over pan of gently simmering water.

You may remember, if you’ve paid attention, that I do not have heatproof bowls. I have cute plastic bowls with lids. I have handy stainless steel bowls with rubber bottoms, but I have nothing I can set over a pan of simmering water—other than a slightly larger pan. So that’s what I’m doing again:

How appetizing is this? About as appetizing as the word “curd.”

One of these days I’m going to regret this system, but for now it works and I save money on the purchase of heatproof bowls:

My thriftiness knows no bounds.

Now I’m to heat and stir frequently until “the sugar has completely dissolved.”

But I have a question for you, Diana. Why do you emphasize the sugar dissolving more than you emphasize the butter melting? Because the butter is the thing to watch in my kitchen.

It’s disgusting, no?

So as I frequently stir, I ask myself, Do I put the eggs in while the butter still hasn’t melted? Do I just focus on the sugar? Is Diana’s butter pre-softened? She doesn’t say it’s pre-softened. She doesn’t say anything about the temperature of the butter, but she’s sure to note the temperature of the eggs.

Guess what temperature the eggs have to be?

I should really know better by now, eh?

The butter has melted and I’m ready to add the beaten room temperature eggs.

But here’s the thing, dear friends, I plopped those eggs right in there and noticed a possibly important word.

Strain the beaten eggs into the mixture.”


First off, I have no strainer. Only a sifter. Secondly, it’s just too late. I started to immediately worry that I had scrambled the eggs in a possibly too hot mixture, but I followed Diana’s instruction to “stir constantly” (as opposed to frequently) and trusted her.

And I stirred forever.

At least it felt like forever. About a quarter of the way into forever, I started to wonder if I would have to start again or just give up tonight. About a third of the way into forever, I tried going through every episode of The Great British Bake Off in my head to remember if lemon curd actually takes forever. About halfway through forever, I started noticing little clumps and realized they were little clumps of cooked egg white. So for the second half of forever, I scooped out little clumps of egg whites and hoped the ones I didn’t catch wouldn’t be noticeable to eaters of this cake.

Diana says that “as soon as you can draw a finger through the mixture on the wooden spoon and make a clear path,” you’re to remove the bowl. But she also says to stir until “very thick and opaque.” So I was going with the very thick versus the line-through-the-curd rule, but by the time I tried the line-through-the-curd rule, I started to wonder if it was “as soon as” or “super long time after.”

Only time will tell!

Now to put it into another heatproof bowl (I am using a soup bowl), and let it cool.

Then once it’s cool, I’m to cover it with clingfilm and chill.

I assume the “chill” means I’m to put said clingfilmed bowl into the fridge, and not put my feet up and watch TV while eating ramen. Just in case, though, I’m doing both.

*some time later*

The rest of these instructions have confused me within an inch of my life. So I had to cheat.

I YouTubed.

“How to roll a swiss roll.”

I think I get it. I’m glad I YouTubed because I would have completely misunderstood Diana and gotten this very, very wrong.

I haven’t even made the sponge yet. This is all mental prep.

The sponge scares me a bit.

I hope I don’t cook the eggs again.

*some more time later*

I’ve read and reread this recipe a lot. I just have to do this.

I remembered to take out four eggs when I made the curd to make sure they’d be room temperature by the time I started the sponge.

It’s a very eggy sponge.

The first step of the sponge, according to Diana, is to whisk the eggs “just to mix” which presumably means until just combined. She also tells me to use either an electric whisk or a rotary whisk. I don’t know what a rotary whisk is, so I went with my electric whisk.

Then I’m to whisk in the sugar—presumably still using the electric whisk.

Egg and sugar? Consider yourself whisked.

Before moving to the next step, I read ahead and noticed that she wants me to double-sift the flour—in a rather unusual way.

First I’m to sift the flour onto a piece of baking paper, put the paper back into a bowl and resift it. But the use of the paper just seems like she’s asking me to make a mess. I mean, I did it, but come on, Diana. It’s an odd step.

Also it looks questionable:

Also I should add that I got creative with the flour. The recipe calls for self-raising flour, but alas I only had about a tablespoon of that. So I was going to look up and compare prices of local grocery stores, when I instead found a DIY self-raising flour: all-purpose and baking powder. So I did that instead. Good thing I sifted it. Twice.

Then she tells me to put it over a pan of gently simmering water and whisk for three minutes or until it’s thick and feels lukewarm.

Two questions, there, Diana.

Firstly, did you want me to continue using the electric whisk? Because my electric whisk comes with a cord and having a cord close to a pot of simmering water just doesn’t make me feel safe. So I’m going old school.

And the old school technique then begs the second question: is it really just three minutes?

I kept checking if it was lukewarm and it definitely was not, so I kept whisking by hand. And then I’d check, and then I’d whisk, check, whisk, check, whisk, check, switch hands, whisk, check. You get it.

It was much more than three minutes.

It was a good portion of forever.

Finally when it was lukewarm, I followed Diana’s next instruction to take it off the heat and continue whisking until you see ribbon-like trails and it’s returned to room temperature.

So I continued whisking by hand. Until, well, you can probably guess it was taking too long. So I whisked with one hand and quickly washed the electric whisk beaters I’d thrown in the dirty-dish sink with the other hand so as to never stop whisking. Then I quickly made the switch from by-hand to electric and the ribbon trails very shortly appeared after that.

So I guess what I’m saying, Diana, is I should have risked an electrical accident and kept using the electric whisk whilst at the stovetop.

Time to fold!

This was a trickier fold. I didn’t know what texture it was supposed to be. Chocolate tart texture should be smooth. Meringue should be marshmallowy. What’s sponge texture supposed to look like? Because it turned spongey. I assume that’s right.

I’m also so worried about deflating whilst folding. It’s a genuine fear.

Time to put it in the baking sheet.

My baking sheet may be too big.

I’m supposed to spread it out and leave 1 cm at the edge, but I definitely have less than one centimetre on two edges and more than one centimetre on the other two. Oh well. Nothing I can do about it now.

Diana tells me to bake it for 8 to 9 minutes, but I decided to start with 5 minutes because I was worried that I’d made it too thin. By the end I had to keep going up in minutes, so I think it ended up being 9.

While that was baking, I grabbed the curd from the fridge and look!

It stays put! I think that’s a good sign.

Time to pull the sponge out!

I have no idea if this looks right:

It looks very bubbly and oddly shaped. I didn’t want it burning, and not only did it bounce in the middle like it was supposed to, newly purchased toothpicks came out clean. However, it also just smelled like cooked egg, so I don’t know if it’ll just taste like cooked egg either.

Time to put it on the sugary baking paper.

Oh yeah I had to prep baking paper with caster sugar.

Oh and I ran out of sugar, so the sponge has slightly less than the called-for amount. But I’ll just pretend that’s on purpose like I usually do.

I was also extremely worried that I was supposed to butter the top of the paper, but the instructions didn’t say to, and I managed to get the paper off.

Then I did what the recipe said (but also what YouTube said) and made a deep cup about 1.25 cm up from the short edge to get the rolling party started.

Then I added the curd. Then I rolled.

Can I just say, rolling is really difficult. The paper helps, but then the paper doesn’t really give me much encouragement that I’m doing it correctly because I can’t see anything! It was getting a little goopy and I was worried it would break in half partway through rolling. (I’ve seen that happen on GBBO!) But I think I made it:

Again, I can’t see anything. I tried peeking at the side but it didn’t give anything away either. So now I just have to wait for it to cool—whilst eating the leftover bits and watching more TV.

P.S. The leftover bits are truly tasty. I have high hopes.

*next day*

I unwrapped the paper and it stayed together, though it gooped a bit out of the sides. I sprinkled icing sugar on top of it and brought to work.

And shortly after opening the container and beginning to slice it, a crowd gathered and half the roll disappeared. Then I quickly cut a piece and took a photo of it before offering it to my friend (because I already had the leftovers and there were more people wanting to finish the cake).

Moral of the story: this one is really tasty. And the curd turned out great! Although I should strain the eggs next time. No one noticed anything wrong with the curd, but I noticed while making it and I prefer perfection.

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