LEMON BUTTER Juice of 2 lemons rind of 1 lemon 1 well beaten egg 1 tablespoon butter enough sugar to thicken bring to boil while stirring.That was the recipe for lemon butter Lachlan sent me this Tuesday via mobile. On Australia Day he'd promised to bring lemon butter over, but instead he brought a whole bunch of lemons, and left me to figure out what to do with them. Being wildly original, I hit on the plan of making some lemon butter - hence the SMS.
Somewhat irrationally, I decided to do it late tonight, in the middle of this four-day Melbourne heatwave. Since I had tonnes of lemons, and thought I had tonnes of sugar, I decided to do double quantities. How hard could it be? I juiced the lemons, added them with the rind to a small saucepan, and as I started to bring it to the boil, remembered that I'd forgotten the eggs. Not a problem. I sprinted to the fridge, broke open two eggs, and quickly beat them up with a fork. Well, you can beat and beat and beat eggs and still be the loser: my lemon butter quickly revealed solidified remnants of egg white that floated sadly to the surface and then down into the depths again.
I added sugar. Then I added some more. Then I added some more, again. And again. And again. The butter remained entirely liquid, it refused to 'thicken' as the recipe seemed to say it would. It occured to me after a while that perhaps I'd just have to wait for the thing to boil and cool down, after which it would do the thickening. Barely had I turned my back on it than it decided to start boiling. Boiling? It was more like a chemical explosion; it fizzed out of my tiny pan, hitting the hot pan on the stove, causing me to take it off and pour it all into my biggest saucepan. I whacked it back on, and stirred like crazy to try and contain the convulsing liquid below the surface.
Eventually I got it calmed down, but noticed that it was STILL not thickening. What the hell was I going to have to do? I decided then that the whole point of lemon butter was not lemon, or butter, but sugar. I'd have to start adding sugar like a bastard. So I stopped shovelling spoonfuls of sugar in and instead just started pouring it straight from the box into the pan, and stirring. No such luck. Eventually I got to the bottom of the box and started rummaging around in my cupboard, emerging with a four-fifths full bag of caster sugar. In this went, into the seething and spitting mass of lemon butter (well, the seething and spitting mass that was still in the pan and not all over the stove, anyway). That dwindled away to two fifths of a bag, then to one tenth of a bag, then the whole bag.
I scrutinised the panful of lemon butter with a jaded eye. It was thicker, kind of. I poured part of it into my measuring jug, and poured the contents of my measuring jug into an empty Morello cherry jar, and repeated the process until I'd gotten rid of all of it. Then I shoved it all into the fridge and looked at my phone.
It was 11.30 PM.
Well that attempt at making lemon butter was an utter failure, I texted back to my brother. Next time I bring the lemons and you make the butter.