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
glass baking dish (9 by 13 inches)
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.