I have let the veg garden run to weeds (I’ve had more important things to think about this year) but managed to salvage some red currants from the chaos.
I’ve been wanting to try this Jane Grigson recipe from her Fruit Book for years. This cake, which I consider to be more of a tart, is evidently an Austrian speciality. I’ve adapted it slightly as I already had three egg whites lounging in my fridge begging to be used (the other optional ingredients are my own additions to Grigson’s recipe). The result is essentially a red currant meringue pie. The tartness of the red currants provide a great foil for the sweet, almond sablé base and fluffy meringue.
Ingredients for the base
160g soft, unsalted butter, diced
125g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
300g plain flour
2 medium eggs (or 4 egg yolks)
A few drops of almond essence (optional)
To make the base
Preheat the oven to 180℃. Whizz the butter, caster sugar, ground almonds and plain flour in a food processor until combined. Add the eggs (or yolks) and a few drops of almond essence (if using) then whizz again until combined.
Roll the dough out into a circle large enough to line a 23cm loose bottomed tart tin. Trim off any excess then bake for around 25 minutes until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Allow to cool.
Ingredients for the filling
500-600g red currants, free from stalks
125g caster sugar
3-4 tbsp cornflour
To make the filling
Wash the red currants then place in saucepan. Cook over a gentle heat until the fruit and exuded its juice and has become mushy. My family prefer a smoother finish to this filling so I pass the fruit puree through a sieve to remove the pips.
Place the sieved fruit puree in a clean saucepan with the caster sugar. Slowly bring up to boiling point. Mix 3 tbsp of the cornflour with a little cold water then stir this into the hot puree. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens. You’re looking for a jammy texture akin to really thick custard. If you don’t think it’s thick enough mix the remaining cornflour with some water and gradually add this until you reach the desired consistency. Allow the filling to cool completely - it will thicken up considerably as it does.
Ingredients for the topping
3-4 egg whites
90-125g caster sugar (depending on how many egg whites you use)
½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)
To make the topping
Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff. Add half the caster sugar then whisk until thick and soft. Finally fold in the remaining caster sugar and the vanilla extract (if using).
To assemble the tart
Spoon the cooled, thickened red currant paste into the tart base. Either pipe or spoon the meringue over the top then brown it with a blow torch or by putting it into a hot oven (c. 200℃) for 5 minutes or so.