The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Currants Galore...

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Srishti's picture
Srishti

Currants Galore...

We picked gallons of currant this year growing in the wild, red ones, black ones, orange ones....

We made tons of fresh-currant ice-cream to start with.

Then I made banbury cakes:

Whole Wheat pastry flour- Banbury cakesWhole Wheat pastry flour- Banbury cakes

Babury 2Banbury 2

They were ummmmmm.... so goood

Today I made some 100% whole-wheat sourdough Currant & seed bread:

currant breadcurrant bread

currant bread 2currant bread 2

the bread is not sweetened. It's just a lean bread recipe to which I added pumpkin & sunflower seeds and lots of currants :)

Really good and tart :P

 

Comments

pjkobulnicky's picture
pjkobulnicky

As a gardener-baker (can't ever figure out which one is my primary avocation) I have to put in a plug for currants ... especially black currants. They are not available for every location since they act as an intermediary for a white pine rust. But, if you live above the Mason-Dixon line they are fantastic. They fruit no matter how cold the winter (or even how wierd the weather as our late March below zero freeze this year which destroyed the eastern peach crop proved) and have few pests. They even like heavy soil ... all be it enhanced with a healthy amount of manure.

This year's harvest (the third for these plants) will be stupendous. We make black currant preserves and jam which is my favorite for eating with butter on good bread. We also make our own cassis. We've not yet tried drying them for real dried currants ... the ones you buy in the store are actually small raisins and not currants. As Shiristi pointed out, the best thing about them is that they are tart, which means they go well with sugar and provide a terrific sweet-sour combination that is desirable for jams and pastry fillings. The only down side is that unlike store bought currants (raisins) they have rather large seeds, akin to a slightly large raspberry seed. A good black currant is the size of a blueberry and is better in all respects for cooking than the blueberry since commercial blueberries have almost no taste and get hidden by any other strong flavor.

One last point for currants and any other member of the ribes family is that they are rich in vitamin C. Like sour cherries there is some homeopathic belief that they aid in alleviating arthritis.

One shrub in nearly full sun is all you need once it gets to full size and it only takes up a 4 X 4 area.

 

Paul Kobulnicky

Baking in Ohio

Srishti's picture
Srishti

:)

We bought a currant bush this year but after flowering it got attacked by aphids :(

We sprayed it with oil-soap combination, but too-late we found out that this burnt the leaves! And also the currants on my bush taste horrific! probably because it is not doing so good! Then the other day while hiking we found currant bushes growing all over in the wild. They were really healthy looking and no pests! No bird bites! It was amazing! So we are thinking of giving up trying to grow them ourselves since we got these dozens of bushes growing so close-by! We were thinking of getting more currant bushes but now we will just try to keep the one we got alive.

What are cassis?

We tried drying them actually, but I thing they are hard to dry... We had them in the dehydrator for a good 36 hrs but still they were really wet! So that's when I decided to put them in bread, which was kind of perfect as they were semi-dry. Fresh might have been too soft to knead with... All dry might have been too dry and hard!

Thnaks a lot

Srishti in Washington State

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

currents.  So many of the berries had already dried naturally on the bush.  They got thrown into the jam anyway.  I mixed them with raspberries and sour cherries.  The jam is going fast.  I also have white ones and black ones "over the fence" and this year is a bumper crop.  I should give  you a recipe for a square cake, jelly pan size, with berries mixed into the meringue.  It's a lot  like a jelly roll only after baking, fluffy egg whites are mixed with a little sugar and berries and spread over the cake, then bake til set.   Eat the same day.   Works also with the frozen berries if they're not in a "block."   --Mini Oven

Srishti's picture
Srishti

I would very much like that Mini Oven!!!!

Thanks

Srishti

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Current Cloud Cake

For the Cake (which is more like a cookie, a big one!)

  • 300g Flour
  • 1/4 teasp Baking powder
  • 120g Butter
  • 60g Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 hard cooked egg yolks pressed through a strainer to crumble fine
  • 2 Tablespoon Cream
  • 1000g Fresh Currents freed from stems (easily done with a fork after washing)

Sift flour and baking pwd together, cut in butter. Stir together sugar, yolks, cream and add to flour working, kneading quickly to make a dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest 1 hour in refrigerator.

Roll out between plastic wrap and lay in lined bottom of a jelly roll pan or edged cookie sheet. Prick all over with a fork. Bake 350° F (180°c) for aproximatly 12 minutes until done. Remove from oven and quickly spread with a thick layer of currents and return to oven for another 15 minutes, longer if berries are frozen. Remove and allow to cool.

Merigue should be eaten the day it's made. Sticks to the cake better when cake is cool. To continue:

  • 4 Egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tarter
  • 120g Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla extract or 1 package vanilla sugar
  • 200g (or more) Currents freed from stems

Beat egg whites and cream of tarter until foamy. Slowly sprinkle and beat in sugar until stiff and glossy. Beat in vanilla. Do not underbeat. Now here you can decide to fold the currents under whites with a spatula and spread over cake or you can spread or pipe the whites onto the cake and drop the currents into the clowds of white. Bake and carefully watch under top heat 350°F (180°c) 5-10 Minutes being careful to set whites and lightly brown peaks. Makes 16 to 20 servings.

Enjoy, Mini Oven

 

 

pjkobulnicky's picture
pjkobulnicky

I just don't want to hear anymore of that Pacific Northwest ... "we just go out for a walk and pick gobs of what everyone else would give their eye teeth to have a few of."  It hurts :-)

I was in Seatle a few years back walking past a junk yard, a greasy, polluted, offensive junkyard, and the fence around it was covered in blackberries, the size and number of which almost made me cry since I could have picked more there in one hour than I could have picked all summer here in Ohio. Later, out on one of the islands, they were everywhere and only us out-of-towners even noticed them ... ho-hum said the locals.

Anyhow ... back to reality for other readers. Aphids can be a bit of a problem in the first year. After that the vigor of the plants outstrip the vigor of the aphids, especially if you are in an area that has cold winters. Hey ... maybe that's an advantage to not living in paradise. 

 

Paul Kobulnicky

Baking in Ohio

Srishti's picture
Srishti

I am not in the seattle area! I am on the other  side of the mountains from seattle where it is really dry and and actually considered a desert. And definitely gets colder (burrr...) than the coast.

BTW, they consider blackberries as invasive on the west side! Hmmm... I wish I were there just for the sake of the blackberries!

Thanks a lot though for telling me that my currant might do bettter next year! I wish it does!

Anyway, I wouldn't call a place where it rains day & night - "a paradise" :D

Take Care

Srishti

"Currantly" in Washington

 

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Srishti - those banbury cakes are beautiful!  Can you describe how they taste?  They're simply gorgeous.  I have never eaten currants that way.  I do buy mine from the market and they actually do say currants (not raisins).  I imagine they must taste quite different even in their dried form than what you can get from a bush in your yard.  Wonder if I could plant them here. 

Cassis is a cordial made from the berries.  It is used in lots of recipes as well as for making an apertif. 

Srishti's picture
Srishti

The dominant taste in the banbury cakes, I would say, is the spices. It uses a large quantities of spices: nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. Then A mixed taste of brown sugar & tartness from the currants. Not to mention the soooo delicate puff pastry.

I made my pastry with the Whole-Wheat pastry flour, which (IMHO) tastes much better than the white pastry. It is so delicate and tasteful.

Pastry:

1 lb Whole Wheat pastry flour (you can use white if you like)

1 lb butter

1tsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt

I followed the method from http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1055/apple-turnovers

Filling:

4 oz. butter, melted
1 lb or more (I used much more) of fresh currants.
4 oz. mixed peel (I didn't use any as I didn't have any handy)
4 oz. brown sugar
1/2 t nutmeg

1/2 t allspice

1/4 t cinnamon

2 tsp rum

Set Oven to 425F

Mix the melted butter, fruit, peel, sugar and spice together in a bowl, combining well

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and, using a saucer, cut into about 16 circles. Divide the fruit mixture evenly between them, then dampen the edges of the pastry circles and draw up into the centre, sealing well. Turn over and, with the hands, gently form the cakes into ovals. Sprinkle granlulated sugar on top and bake!

 

apprentice's picture
apprentice

Hi Srishti, thought you might like to see this recipe for a change of pace from yeasted baking with your abundance of currants (lucky you!). http://www.latartinegourmande.com/2006/07/17/petits-gateaux-aux-groseilles-red-currant-mini-cakes/ 

A favourite since trying it last year. Mine turned out more like muffins with a rounded top rather than flat, perhaps because I used regular metal muffin pans rather than silicone muffin molds which are flatter and slightly larger.

Beatrice does beautiful work! Both in baking and presentation. Her blog is worth a look-see. And btw, she means egg whites in the above recipe where she says "white eggs". Her first language is very charming French. :)

Srishti's picture
Srishti

What a gorgeous website!!! I just can't stop looking at it!

Thanks for pointing me there!

Srishti

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Srishti, again, those are amazing looking!  Thanks so much for posting your recipe.  I love all the interesting things you make. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

What a refreshing site.  Mini Oven

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Hi Srishti from the other side of the mountains, and the sun is shining this morning. I think the idea that it is always raining over here is a scurrilous lie. I do agree about blackberries being invasive. I rented a place where the only landscaping was grass and blackberries but we made lots of good jam that year. When I read about your quantities of currants I thought of a lovely dessert, Summer Pudding. Had to get out of bed at 1am to look at my English cookbook and here is the recipe.

White bread to line a 2pint basin (needs to be something with a close crumb)

1 1/2lb raspberries

1 1/2lb. black or red currants

4fluid oz Kirsch

8oz. sugar

Cut the bread into slices and trim to completely cover the inside of the basin. Heat the fuit and sugar (and liquor if using) until the juices start to run. Pack into the lined basin pressing down gently. Cover with a bread "lid" and use a saucer and a weight to compress, and refrigerate overnight. Unmold and serve with lots of cream. Yum, brings back my childhood just thinking about it.

If you have any currants left I hope you will try this, A

browndog's picture
browndog

Annie, what kind of texture does this end up having? I had a recipe for exactly this, minus the kirsch and with black or blueberries instead of currants. I kept it forever and then tossed it because it sounded so...odd, but if you tell me it tastes like more than just soggy, mushed, sweet bread, I'll believe you, and maybe even give it a try, because it's coming up time for blueberries soon.

Srishti's picture
Srishti

May the sun shine always upon you! :) It has been rather cloudy here a lot... sun-clouds-sun-clouds!!! ow well... it's a nice relief on hot days!

We will try to go back for more currants tomorrow.... The last batch perhaps! They are getting scanty fast as the sun is heating up! We found a bunch of wild balckberries as well and will definitely be collecting some of those soon.

The pudding sounds yummy!! Thanks for looking it up for me (in the middle of the night!) I will definitely give it a try!

Take Care

Srishti

PS: if you are ever here in June or so let me know.... It is the time for picking currants.

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Hi Browndog, I really think this needs to be made with blackcurrants because they have a very distinctive flavor. I guess that is what I remember most about it, and the bread was barely there to hold the fruit in. Yes, it got soaked with juice, and I have to say my mother would NEVER have added liquor, but the "pungent" blackcurrant flavor, plus redcurrants and raspberries made it a favorite. Have you ever tasted Ribena? It is a blackcurrant flavored syrup you dilute with water. I was so shocked when I first came to America and found that what I thought was blackcurrant was actually grape - blecch! I just re-read this and think maybe raspberries and blueberries would work - need to be sharp and unless you are picking wild blueberries they alone wouldn't taste strong enough. Long and convoluted answer to a simple question, sorry about that, A