We are still trying to hold onto summer, not really wanting to let go yet…it has been an unusually rainy and cool summer around here and we are still longing for warm, sunny days, even as we are approaching fall and even though I have spotted lots of fall produce already at the farmers´ market.
There is pumpkins and the first crops of fall apples making an appeacance but for now they happily share their shelf space with quite a bit of late summer produce like berries. Redcurrants still being my favorite late summer berry crop.
So, it was a rather informal Kaffee und Kuchen (or coffee and cake) sort of afternoon the other day and I happily baked a rather rustic and weekend kind of traybake (or sheet cake) for my family. Besides, I was just looking for a good excuse to post pictures of this lovely bag of espresso beans that one of our daughter gifted me for my birthday in August – Lion´s Coffee I call it - wonder what inspired her to buy this particular bag...
So not only did the colors of my Redcurrant Traybake match the package of the Café Royal - Sir Edward - Italian Dark Roast - but this is also my go-to recipe for using up those last berries of the season, be they redcurrants, as featured here, or blueberries that we harvest at a nearby blueberry farm up until the second week of September. Traybake recipe are such simple, no-fuss cakes that can be cut into squares or bars to feed a crowd
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
- 1 ¼ cups AP (plain) flour
- ½ tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup superfine baking (caster) sugar
- 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla sugar
- 1 egg (L), free range or organic
- ½ cup milk, room temperature (I use 3.5%)
- 2 tablespoons Demerara sugar, for sprinkling NOTE: demerara sugar is a type of cane sugar with a fairly large grain and a pale amber color
- a bit confectioners´ sugar for dusting (optional)
- soflty whipped cream or crème fraîche, for serving (optional)
- Grease a rectangular baking pan (approx 20cm x 30cm or 8in x 12in) with a little butter, and line the base and sides with baking parchment.
- Preheat the oven to 180° C (356°F).
- In a bowl, whisk together the plain flour with the baking powder and sea salt.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together 1/2 cup butter, sugar, Cognac or brandy and vanilla sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg to the butter mixture and beat until thoroughly combined.
- Add half the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
- Pour in the milk and continue beating, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
- Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined.
- Scrape the dough into the baking pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
- Scatter on the redcurrants or other berries in an even layer.
- Sprinkle the Demerara sugar on top.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving,
- Dust lightly with confectioners´ sugar and serve with softly whipped cream or a bit of crème fraîche if you like.
This is a deliciously moist, versatile cake that can be served with coffee/tea or as a dessert with whipped cream or crème fraîche, or enjoy it for breakfast - there are berries involved after all. Traybakes also make excellent after-school snacks, and are perfect for school bake sales. As far as this recipe is concerned, I love the crunchiness from the Demerara sugar that is such a nice contrast to the pleasant dampness of this cake. And the redcurrants add a very enjoyable tartness here.
So, let us hold on to summer and enjoy those warm rays of sunshine (finally) for just another little while and ponder the autumn days to come later on. For now, I still enjoy the taste of late summer berries in my cake...