Time to stay calm, and eat cake. Baking can take my mind off anxiety inducing situations, such as the one we find ourselves in right now. I’ve been taking a look in the freezer and found a bag of frozen blackcurrants given to me by a lovely friend who grew them on her allotment last year.
Blackcurrants are widely cultivated in northern Europe and northern Asia. They used to be grown in the USA too, but were banned in the early 1900’s because of a certain pest that was deemed a threat to the logging industry. Although this ban has been lifted in some states the blackcurrant is still quite unknown in many parts of the USA.
Rich in vitamin C and polyphenols blackcurrants were an important crop in the UK during World War 2 when fruits such as oranges were hard to come by. Blackcurrant juice was issued free to children under 2, and is still a very popular drink and flavouring. Ribena, a blackcurrant cordial which derives its name from the Latin name ribes nigrum, has been made in the UK since 1938 and was heavily marketed as being a healthy drink, full of vitamin C. In recent years sugary drinks like this have become somewhat demonised, and lower sugar versions have been developed.
Blackcurrants are one of my favourite fruits. Even the smell is beautiful. I’m planning on making a bottle (or two!) of blackcurrant vodka. But meanwhile it’s a cake, because you get a quicker result!
I used this recipe from Irish food blogger Caroline Hennessy, just tweaking it very slightly to add a hint of lemony sharpness. I added the finely grated rind of one lemon, and a little juice. The recipe was very good, although it took an hour to bake, not 35-40 minutes as stated.
The end result was very tasty and moist. I served it with a scoop of vanilla icecream. If you don’t have blackcurrants in your part of the world then blueberries could be substituted but you won’t get that fruity sharpness that only blackcurrants can give!
I hope you all keeping safe and sane wherever you are. We have all seen some wonderful neighbourly activities as well as some less acceptable behaviours. Let’s focus on the good stuff. At least I can still make a cake, and at the moment I am still going to work, and even more importantly – I am still going out RUNNING! (More on that soon.)