redcurrant sponge cake
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Redcurrant cake, light buttery sponge topped with fresh redcurrants: a perfect balance between sweetness and tartness.
There is a host of less popular berries that are waiting for their moment in the spotlight. Redcurrants, blackcurrants and gooseberries are never called ‘superfoods’ – whatever that stupid label means. They don’t jump out to you from the Jams & Preserves shelf and don’t feature much in desserts. A bit like rhubarb and quinces, though these two enjoy some popularity due to their quaint Englishness: ‘ooh, quince jelly, just like my Grandma made!’; ‘there were scones for tea, cucumber sandwiches and a rhubarb fool for pudding’*.
Blackcurrant jam might be all right, but those pips, those pips. Gooseberry is seriously hairy and thus off-putting, plus it always looks unripe. And redcurrants are only good for the jelly to dollop next to your Christmas turkey. Or so most people think.
I’d love gooseberries to become a superfood, professed to cure cancer and prolong life by ten years. I wish to see blackcurrants feature as a star of a miracle weight-loss diet: blackcurrant smoothie for breakfast, blackcurrant salad for lunch and roast blackcurrants for dinner (I might be on to something). And I’d love redcurrants to be used in cakes more widely – like I have done.
They are tart but not bitter, they have pips but not any worse than raspberries or passion fruit, and they add a beautifully refreshing flavour to cake. And the colour, the colour is prettier than raspberry and more vivid than strawberry.
The cake base in this recipe is worth noting too: it’s a halfway house between simple English sponge and sophisticated continental genoise. I agree that separating eggs is a chore but the outcome is worth it. Chalk it down for the next celebration gateau: it slices in half easily and will happily house chocolate ganache, buttercream, fruit and whipped cream or whatever else you fancy frosting it with.
*all of those things/words hardly comprehensible to a non-English person.
redcurrant sponge cakeServings: 16Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 120g (½ cup) caster sugar
- 90g (6 tbsp.) butter, melted and cooled
- 180g (1½ cup) plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 200g (2 cups) redcurrants, stripped off the stalks
- icing sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Prepare a 20cm (8in) round cake tin, buttered and lined with a parchment disc on the base.
2. Place the egg whites in the mixer’s bowl, beat until they form stiff peaks, then add sugar spoonful by spoonful while beating on the highest setting. Add egg yolks one by one, mixing all the time. Still mixing, pour in the melted butter and add the vanilla. Stir the baking powder into the flour and fold into the mix with a spatula.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and scatter the redcurrants over it generously. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
4. Cool in the tin and dust with icing sugar.