No, it isn’t redcurrant season yet. A few weeks ago my lovely neighbours, Ted and Dorothy, were clearing out their freezer, in preparation for this year’s fruit and veggies – just like we are doing – and they thought I would like some frozen redcurrants. We never turn any food away – I hate things going to waste and I also know that Ted is an excellent gardener and I secretly covet all the lovely things he grows. I made three things with their redcurrants: little cakes, some jelly and a smoothie.
I bake quite a bit as we like to eat quite a lot of cake. My cakes aren’t fancy and they mainly involve lots of fruit as then it is perfectly fine to eat cake for breakfast. When we were given the redcurrants I hadn’t really made a cake since my operation as it was all I could do to make lunch and dinner, but the redcurrants inspired me to start baking again.
Red Currant Cakes – The recipe for these little buns comes from Nigel Slater Tender vol.2 (1122).
125g butter; 125g sugar; 125g self raising flour; 2 eggs; milk (2-3tbs) 150g red currants. Put sugar, butter, flour and eggs in food processor and whizz until combined. Add some milk and whizz to loosen it. Stir in red currants. I whizzed mine in which made everything go pink – this is fine as they had defrosted and were mushy, but it looks nicer to stir in frozen or fresh ones as then they hold their shape when you cook them.
I always make twice the amount of this in one go as we are greedy. The cakes came out a little flat – I wondered why. I now know – I made twice the amount yet only put in 4 pullet eggs – as these are half the size of normal eggs I should have used 8 – very silly especially as it isn’t as if we don’t have enough eggs at the moment. The cakes are still OK, even if they look a little sad.
I cooked a kilo of red currants with some water until mushy (technical jam-making term). Then I strained it through a jelly bag – don’t squeeze it. For every 100ml of juice I added 75g of sugar. I brought it to boil and boiled it to jam setting temperature – use a thermometer or put a saucer in the freezer. Once the jam/jelly has started to rise up put a tiny bit on the saucer and leave for a while. Push your finger along it and if it wrinkles, it is at setting point. I then poured it into two tiny sterilised jars: one for me and one for Ted and Dorothy. Usually when I make jelly I make large batches, but as yet I never have enough redcurrants. We are rectifying this terrible situation by planting lots of redcurrant bushes and taking cuttings from the ones we already have – one day I hope to have mountains of red currants and then I will be able to sell redcurrant jelly.