Valencia Curd

Here I am in South Africa and while citrus season is long past back home in the States, it’s just beginning down here south of the equator. So what better way to celebrate the season than with a tangy, brilliantly orange dessert curd? 

In this curd recipe, you do not strain out the zest, in order to maximize the orange flavor, and while it does not produce the silky smooth texture of other curds, that is more than made up for in the fantastic punch of orange flavor, with just enough bitterness to transport you to the streets of Sevilla. Or the Orange Grove of Johannesburg, as the case may be.

I made this recipe earlier this Spring and used the curd to filll a tall, 3-layer chocolate cake; the combination of sweet, fudgy chocolate cake and tangy, pow! orange curd was delicious and a refreshing change from overly sweet, filled-with-sugary-frosting cakes.  In addition to making an excellent cake filling, the curd would work well as the base of a tart with a sweet topping: meringue, melted chocolate, or glazed strawberries.  We finished off the last of it by spooning it over vanilla ice cream – pragtige!

For other citrus curd recipes see Pink Grapefruit Curd (and Friends) and Lime Curd for Canning.

Adapted from Juice Orange Curd in The Pie & Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum


Valencia Curd


  • 1/2 cup (scant 2 oz) fresh orange zest, from about 6 large Valencia oranges, preferably organic
  • 4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, from about 10 large oranges, OR 1 cup frozen OJ concentrate, thawed
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 8 egg yolks (1/2 cup, 5 and 1/4 oz)
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 4 oz (1 stick, 1/2 cup) butter, softened or diced
  • 1/2 tsp orange oil
  • a pinch or two of sea salt


  1. Zest and juice the oranges.  (Rose tells us that if you microwave a citrus fruit for 10 seconds, then roll it on a cutting board, it will release significantly more juice.  I believe!) Consider saving the spent orange rinds to make some of Julia’s orange pectin stock.
  2. In a medium saucepan, or large greased microwave-safe container, reduce the orange juice to 1 cup (OJ concentrate is already reduced to 1/4).  Juice will foam quite a bit, so watch carefully while boiling.  This should take about 10 – 15 minutes.  Allow the reduced juice to cool to room temperature.  Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice to the reduced orange juice.
  3. In a medium saucepan, beat together the egg yolks and sugar. Add zest, butter, juice and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until thickened, opaque and curd has reached a temperature of 180 degrees F.  Do not let boil or the eggs will curdle; if you see a lot of steam rising from the curd, or if bubbles start to form at the edges, remove from the heat for a minute, still stirring constantly, to prevent a boil.  Upon reaching 180 degrees F, transfer immediately to a heat-safe bowl (do not strain).
  4. Gently fold in the orange oil, if using, cover with plastic wrap, pressed down onto the surface of the curd, and refrigerate overnight to cool & set.

Yields about 3 cups.


  1. The zest is cooked with the curd, and not strained out, in order to intensify the orange flavor. 
  2. The lemon juice is not added in the original recipe; I added it to boost the acidity slightly and help achieve a firmer set. 
  3. I accidentally did not double the sugar (while I doubled the rest of the recipe), but I like how it turned out.  Oranges are so sweet, the curd doesn’t really need much sugar. To make the original version, use 1 and 1/3 cups sugar.
  4. Because of the large amount of zest, this curd does not have the silky texture of a lemon or lime curd; therefore an accurate thermometer is very helpful in determining when the curd is done. 
  5. This recipe yields a lot of curd; if you need to fill one pie or cake, you can easily cut the recipe in half.  I used nearly all of this on three generously-filled 8-inch cake layers; you could squeak out four 8-inch layers if necessary.


Refrigerated up to 3 weeks.  Frozen up to 6 months.


Citrus is at peak season in winter.


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