Monday, September 3, 2012

CAKES AND FRUITS - PART II: Red Currant Meringue Cake


After featuring two recipes with Italian Plums yesterday, the second fruit that plays a starring role in my week-long series on “CAKES AND FRUITS” is meant as a celebration of one of the most intensely flavored and gloriously colored of all berries, the Red Currants. These berries are shiny looking , soak up the sun and reflect its light through their translucent, bright red skins.




The flavor of these fruits is tart but also intensely aromatic. And, of course, they are bursting with vitamin C, not to mention antioxidants and minerals. There are many reasons to love red currants. Currants are in season through July and August until the beginning of September. They can be frustratingly hard to find sometimes but whenever you do find them at a farmers´ market or store, make the most of them before they vanish for another year.




Recipe for Red Currant Meringue Cake (“Johannisbeer-Baiser Kuchen”)

Ingredients for the Cake

  • 750 grams (1.5 pounds) red currants, washed and pulled off the stems with a fork, divided into thirds, you might want to keep a few sprigs for the eatable decoration 
  • 7 eggs (L), organic or free rangs if possible
  • 200 grams (2 sticks minus 2 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus some more for buttering the baking dish
  • 370 grams (1 ¾ cups plus 2 tbsp) super fine sugar
  • 1 package pure vanilla extract
  • one pinch of fine sea salt
  • 300 grams (2 ½ cups) AP flour, plus some more for flouring the baking dish
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) potato starch
  • 15 grams (3 tsp) baking powder
  • 150 ml milk, room temperature 
  • 4 tbsp confectioners´ sugar




Equipment

glass baking dish (9 by 13 inches)

Preparation

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius ( 350 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Butter and flour your 9 by 13 inch glass baking dish.
3. Separate 4 eggs, put the egg yolks in a small bowl and put the egg whites in the fridge while proceeding with the cake batter.
4. In the bowl of your mixer, with the whisk attachment, whisk the butter, 170 grams (3/4 cup and 2 tbsp) of the sugar, vanilla sugar, and salt for about 8 minutes, until the mixture looks very light yellow and fluffy.
5. Add the four egg yolks and the 3 remaining whole eggs, beat for about 30 seconds after each addition.
6. In a bowl whisk together the flour, starch, and baking powder.
7. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk. Make sure to start and finish with the milk.
8. With an offset spatula, spread the dough in the baking pan and sprinkle 1/3 of the red currants over top.
9. Bake the cake for 20 minutes.
10. While the cake is baking for 20 minutes, beat the 4 egg whites in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they are foamy. Gradually add the 200 grams (1 cup) sugar, beating until the whites hold soft peaks. Take the cake out of the oven – careful, the baking dish is very hot!
11. With a rubber spatula carefully fold another third of the berries into the egg whites. Then, using an offset spatula, spread the meringue mixture over the top of the half-baked cake.
12. Sprinkle the last third of the currants on top of the meringue mixture, then, with using a small sieve, sprinkle the confectioners` over top and return the cake pan to the oven.
13. Continue to bake for another 20 minutes. Take the baking pan out of the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Let the cake cool completely, dust with some more confectioners` sugar, cut into rectangles or squares and serve with some red currants if you have some left over.




The meringue forms a sweet and soft layer over the cake. If you are not a red currant fan, try the cake with some raspberries, but you cannot substitute frozen fruits, this cake recipe will only turn out to be a success if  you use fresh fruit.




Red currants are tart and sweet at the same time. Other than contributing tremendous flavor to cakes, they can be eaten raw, when properly sun-ripened,  or they can be paired with other fruits, such as raspberries or strawberries. Such fruit combinations work really well in a sorbet or a granita, in a summer pudding, such “Rote Grütze” or in a homemade jam or jelly.  Red currants also make delicious and pretty additions to a fruit salad.












17 comments:

  1. The currants are just stunningly beautiful...your photos of them just enhance their natural beauty. That cake looks delicious...and pretty!

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    1. Kayte, thanks so much, those currants are quite photogenic, being bright red and all - it was a lot of fun taking pictures of them, a first for me.

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  2. This is a beauty, I love this cakes and fruits series. Sharing it on Google+. Happy sunday to you.

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    1. Thank you very much, Suzi - working on other posts right now, so that I will be able to publish on time. So many fruits, so little time.

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  3. What a gorgeous cake! Currants are hard to find around here except in jelly...but I'll keep my eyes peeled :)

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    1. Lizzy, thanks so much - currants can indeed be hard to find sometimes, probably even more so in the States. My grandmother used to grow them in her garden and I just love their crunchy "sweet tartness"!

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  4. I'm enjoying your fruit dessert series! A feast for the eyes. The family we bought our house from were from Poland. They had planted both red currants and gooseberries in the garden. They are very unusual around here. Usually, the birds get to the currants before I do, and they are long past this summer, but I'll make a note of this recipe for next summer.

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    1. Betsy, thanks for the lovely comment - those currants are still abundant in stores right now, I just bought some more - we probably harvest them later around here than in the States.

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  5. This is a very interesting cake with the meringue layer and currants. I can´t find them easily here. I had though of doing a series of different themes too, it´s such a great idea. You picked the perfect combination, summer fruits and cake! I´d love to try this cake!

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    1. Paula, this is one of my personal favorites, it has dreamy sweet meringue, tart berries and a wonderful cake layer, who could ask for more...

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  6. I guess if you are not a baker (which is me), you don't buy certain ingredients like currants. I only noticed about currants recently. I thought I was eating raisins when I had currants scone (rolling my eyes). It was so delicious and I didn't even know that was currants! Now I know and I can say I love currants! Your cake is sooo gorgeous! The last picture is so dreamy and I want to eat that beautiful cake... I need to be a baker one day!!

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    1. Nami, red currants are considered to be a bit "old fashioned" because you find the bushes most likely in your grandma´s garden around here but I love them and I love to bake with them and besides, as people are discovering the "good old times", these berries are quickly becoming "fashionable" again.

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  7. I will keep my eye out for red currants. I don't think I have ever eaten one except in a jelly......maybe. The idea of the meringue is intriquing and I heard you about only using fresh fruit. Just a gorgeous dessert. Do your little girls like this, Andrea, I suspect it's rather tart?

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    1. Mary, red currant are tart but the kids love them so much, maybe it is because I "force" them to eat fruits all the time, seriously, red currants are by far the kids favorite berries, even more than blueberries, they are just used to me buying them and putting them on the table for snacking.

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  8. Late posting a comment, but I'm in search of a currant answer and Google keeps lofting me your way (came to find out just one specific thing... and have a feeling I am about to lose hours as I read through to catch up on your lovely blog! Ah well, thankfully dinner is made so I can sit and read in peace.) - I grew up eating currants right off the tiny clusters in first my gran's garden and then my da's, and frankly... they never made it ~indoors~ let alone into an oven or jam pot (we devoured morels the same way - the taste of those mushrooms is always tied to burned fingertips as we snitched them hot out of the pan, never letting them reach a plate), so I just don't know - HOW does one dispatch the little decorative clusters that top tarts? Do you daintily pluck them from the stem? Chew the lot whole? Pop a mini-tart in one go and let the pastry soften the slide of the stem? If it's meant to be laid aside and left - I'll stick to just greedily eating them when I can, but if there is some polite and company manners way to dispatch the little jewels, while I'm embarrassed to confess that at 33 I don't know, I love them when I can get them that I will risk public shaming in order to utilize them better. (I'm putting in 4 plants in my back garden this spring and hope to one day have a real need to knowing and putting them to proper use!)

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    1. Jenna, thank you for your wonderful comment - in my opinion, there is only one way to "devour" the red berries, at least that is the way we alaways do it - take the bundle off the pastry or cake, place on rim of your plate, enjoy the pastry, then take the end of stem in your hand and while holding the stem tightly with the tip of your fingers, place the berries in your mouth and tear them off the stem as gently as possible with your teeth - sounds more "inelegant" than it actually is but the only other way peole eat these berries is by plucking one berry by one off the stem with their fingers, or use your fork instead to pull them off the stem and then eat them with your fingers.
      Hope that hepls! And thanks for visiting!

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  9. I have just made a red currant meringue cake from a different recipe - yours looks lovely. Interesting that red currants are also difficult to find in Germany - I thought it was just here!

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