Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Redcurrants and Red Wine Sponge Cake--Farewell to Poland

Redcurrants. They were a horror of my childhood. Each summer my aunt made us, all the kids in the family, spend hours in the yard picking them up with our small hands. It was the most hated vacation activity I could think of. We even did not much like the redcurrants to eat as they were very sour, but my aunt terrorized us with arguments that preserves and juices made from them will be priceless in the winter. Not really. I always preferred blackcurrants, which actually were even more difficult to harvest, but their aroma and taste had imparted an uncanny attractive power to anything made of them. Meanwhile, unused redcurrant preserves often turned into wine or vinegar.

I had this difficult relation with redcurrants until I moved out of Poland. At that time, in both France and Switzerland, redcurrants were rare and pricey, but even more so in the US. When I came here, I hardly saw any redcurrants and even if I did, they were expensive and sold in tiny boxes. In restaurants they were served hanging over sophisticated desserts like jewellery.

That changed my attitude toward redcurrants and I have started to dream about using them to garnish white chocolate mousse or some other elegant desserts.

In August, the redcurrant season was almost over in Poland, but I saw small amount of redcurrants at my local market and became almost emotional imagining tens of recipes I could used them in. And they were still only one dollar a pound. Of course I bought them and made a cake. I used an interesting recipe calling also for red wine--good idea to use glass of leftover wine. The sweetness of the cake and the sourness of the redcurrants blended perfectly, and I enjoyed this cake even more so because I did not have to pick up these redcurrants myself.

Redcurrant and Wine Sponge Cake

3 eggs,
3/4 cup sugar,
1 cup all purpose flour,
1/2 cup vegetable oil,
1 tsp baking powder,
1/4 cup wine (50 ml),
1/2 cup potato or cornstarch,
1 tsp vanilla extract,
1/2 lb redcurrants,
1 tsp of butter,
1 tbsp plain breadcrumbs,
1/2 cup icing sugar,
2 tbsp milk.

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Using an electric mixer beat eggs with sugar until they acquire a mousse-like consistency.
3. In a small bowl mix flour, cornstarch, and baking powder, and add to the egg mixture. Fold in gently.
4. Add vanilla extract to the batter together with wine and oil .Mix all the ingredients well until the batter becomes smooth.
5. Spread butter over a baking form and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Pour over the batter and scatter the redcurrants on top.

6. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top is set and slightly gold. Remove from the oven and cool down.
7. Mix icing sugar with milk until smooth. Turn the cake upside down as fruits likely will drop to the bottom of the cake. Pour icing on top of the cake. Cut and serve.