In my most recent CSA basket, I got these late-summer berries (pictured below ) and I, the food-lover that I am, did not have a clue what they were. All I did know was that they were NOT blueberries.
I’m pretty embarrassed that I had never seen black currants before, and I call myself a foodie? I always encountered these berries in jams and sauces, cooked down and sweetened. In French, they’re called “cassis,” and I don’t think I realized cassis is black currant. My bilingualism is flawed, clearly.
Currants are actually quite common a berry at our local markets and I’ve baked with red currants before, which I’ve used to make these red currant muffins. Fresh, currants are quite tart, so they are perfect baked into a sweet late summer cake.
For this recipe, I used yogurt but a common baking substitution would be to replace it with full fat sour cream in the cake batter, which would make these cakes a lot richer. I flavoured the batter with vanilla extract, amaretto, and a touch of organic almond extract to reinforce the flavour of the liqueur. The nutty, amaretto flavour was the perfect complement to the tart black currants.
Black currant cakes with amaretto
- 95 grams (¾ cup) all-purpose flour
- 2.5 mL (½ tsp) baking powder
- 0.625 mL (⅛ tsp) baking soda
- 0.625 mL (⅛ tsp) fine kosher salt
- 58 grams (¼ cup) unsalted butter room temperature
- 100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 15 mL (1 tbsp) amaretto liqueur
- 2.5 mL (½ tsp) pure vanilla extract
- 2.5 mL (½ tsp) finely grated lemon zest
- 0.625 mL (⅛ tsp) pure almond extract
- 80 mL (⅓ cup) yogurt (2 % fat)
- 85 grams (3 oz) black currants 1/4 pint
- 8 grams (1 tbsp) all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease four 250 mL mason jars.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well blended. Set aside for later.
- In a bowl with an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until well blended, about 3 minutes.
- Add the egg, beating well until it's incorporated.
- Add the amaretto, vanilla, lemon zest, and almond extract.
- Add the dry ingredients and the yoghurt alternately to the creamed mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Toss the black currants with 1 tablespoon of flour. Fold the berries into the batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared jars and smooth out the surface.
- Bake until a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University. Visit janicelawandi.com to see my portfolio.