It’s been a busy week! I’m hard at work on a new project (exciting!) and I’ve had a really full calendar – it always seems like July is the tipping point for the year and all of a sudden the rush is on to December 31st. The gorgeous fruit and berries in the markets are doing their annual blink-and-you-miss-it appearances, so every time I see a favourite fruit I rush to buy it and quickly try to capture the flavour in the kitchen – whether it’s bright and tart berry jams for spreading thickly over fresh bread, cordials for refreshing summer drinks and cocktails, or delicious pastries and cakes for immediate enjoyment.
Currants, those long strands of gleaming jewels, always attract my magpie eye when I see them piled high at market stalls. From the dark amethyst of black currants, to the pearl like white currants, and finally the unmistakeable ruby hue of red currants, as soon I see them I start plotting how they are going to be used in the kitchen.
Red Currant Crumble Cakes – or Johannisbeer-Streusaltaler as they are known here in Germany are a long standing bakery favourite. Soft, enriched yeast dough, or Hefeteig topped with a generous amount of tart red currants, sprinkled over with masses of buttery streusel and finished off with a zingy lemon icing is like a burst of summer on the plate. You can either make them bakery style as individual cakes, or as I do when I want to cater for a crowd, make one large tray-sized cake for slicing.
Or course, red currants have only a short summer season, but they freeze wonderfully so it’s worth buying some extra for the freezer. This recipe is extremely adaptable, if berries aren’t in season it would work perfectly well with rhubarb, stewed apples, or any stone fruit. It also works with frozen fruit but make sure the fruit is defrosted and well drained before baking.
Today I’m also going to let you in on the secret to getting perfect crumble every time – using a mixture of cold and melted butter will ensure the most deliciously buttery crumble topping ever. Check out the recipe below for the details.
This recipe makes either 12 individual cakes, or one large half-sheet pan (a standard oven tray) sized cake, perfect for feeding a crowd. It might seem like a lot but it always seems to get eaten! The cooled and sliced cake can be frozen, wrapped carefully in cling film.
Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!
Red Currant Crumble Cakes
for the dough:
- 21 g fresh yeast or:
- 7 g dried yeast, (1 packet)
- 400 g plain flour
- 150 ml milk, warmed
- 50 g butter, softened
- zest of 1 lemon
- 50 g sugar
- 1 large egg
- pinch of salt
for the topping:
- 250 g plain flour
- generous pinch of salt
- 125 g sugar
- 125 g butter, softened
- 50 g butter, melted
- 350 g red currants, removed from their stems
- sugar and lemon juice, to taste
for the glaze:
- 150 g icing sugar
- 20 ml lemon juice
- In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in 25ml of the warmed milk. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of flour, then set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, using the dough hook attachment of a stand mixer, knead the remaining dough ingredients together until smooth - 5-7 minutes. (note: for kneading by hand, see tips and tricks below)
- Add the yeast mixture to the dough and continue to knead until all the liquid has been absorbed by the dough - it will initially look very wet, but have patience and keep kneading. When the liquid has been absorbed and the dough moves freely in the bowl, which will take around 5 minutes, remove the dough from the bowl, shape into a ball, cover with cling film, return to the bowl and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour to rise.
- While the dough is rising, make the crumble topping by whisking together the flour salt and sugar. Cut small pieces of the softened butter into the mixture, then gently rub in using your fingers until you have a loose pebbly mixture. Pour over the melted butter and use a fork to roughly stir it through - this is the trick to creating those deliciously buttery pieces of streusel. Break up any that are overly large with your fingers. Put the crumble topping in the fridge until the dough has risen.
- When the dough has risen, heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. At this point, you need to decide whether you want to make individual or one large cake. For the individual cakes line two trays with baking paper, for the larger cake, line one.
- For the individual cakes, knock the air out of the dough (it should no longer be at all sticky) and divide into 10 equal-sized pieces - I find it is easiest to weigh the pieces so the are the same - about 70g each. Form each piece of dough into a ball, then stretch out into a circle 10cm in diameter, pressing down the middle so the edges are slightly raised, placing each on one of the two trays. Divide the red currants between the dough pieces and squeeze with a little lemon juice and sprinkle over a little sugar. Top generously with the crumble mixture, and here I have to stress, just scatter it over, do not press it down, then bake in the oven (I do this in two lots rather than all the same time) for 20 minutes each tray.
- For the large tray cake, knock the air out of the dough (it should no longer be at all sticky) and on a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to a large rectangle nearly the size of your tray. Transfer to the lined tray and use your fingers to stretch the dough into the corners, pressing down to leave a slightly raised edge all the way around. Top with all of the red currants, scatter over the crumble topping and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.
- Allow to cool on the tray. When cool, whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice and drizzle a little over each cake, or alternatively dust with plenty of icing sugar just before serving.
TIPS & TRICKS:
I am lucky enough to have a stand mixer for making dough. If you are making the dough by hand, start with 500g of flour and knead all the ingredients together – this will make the wet dough easier to handle.
Depending on the time in the season, red currants can be very tart – have a taste of your berries and some uncooked streusel/crumble topping and if it is too tart for your tastes, sprinkle over and extra tablespoon or two of sugar before baking.