Redcurrant cake, light buttery sponge topped with fresh redcurrants: a perfect balance between sweetness and tartness.
Less fashionable berries
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’*.
Why are they not so hot?
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.
When will they be famous?
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.
Redcurrants are not just for jelly
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.
About the cake
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-native English person.