You know when you laugh so hard that you eventually can't breathe anymore and every single muscle in your body seems to hurt? Yes, that happened multiple times during last weekend. I don't think I've laughed so much and wholeheartedly in a while. I think I've never stared at the night sky for several hours in a row. Seriously, when was the last time you gazed at bright stars and spotted shooting stars and satellites? Promise me you'll do that. It's epic.
I spent last weekend in the Finnish archipelago where we threw a bachelorette party for my dear friend. I was so exhausted after those three days...okay, a total understatement. I actually think that my IQ was below zero for several days after I came back home. Not because of alcohol but simply due to emotional and physical exhaustion. Maybe I still haven't fully recovered, so I'll just start talking about today's recipe which is one I connect many childhood memories with.
The cake I share with you today is one my mom used to make when I was a kid. It's actually one of the most traditional berry cakes here in Finland. I made it with redcurrants because I had a bunch of them at hand after a recent berry picking trip. Also, I think that this batter works best with tart berries or fruit due to its relative sweetness. You could, however, substitute currants with blueberries or other fruit of your choice. The cake is moist and sweet, the currants add a wonderful tartness to it, and as it bakes, a lovely dark crust forms thanks to the buttermilk. The cake is a real no-brainer and I'm pretty confident you could even make this with an IQ below zero. Just mix everything together (according to my mom it's irrelevant in which order; just make sure everything is incorporated) and scatter the berries over, bake, done.
I shot these pics right before this summer's worst thunderstorm. It was a stormy day, and I actually thought twice before I found the courage to bake the cake despite the weather forecast. The worst scenario in my head: thunderstorm hitting, power cut, and the cake still baking in the oven = disaster. However, I succeeded to bake the cake (while constantly tracking weather forecasts) and shot it in the doorway cause that basically was the place with the best light source. So there I stood with a camera in my hands and the door wide open while the storm was building up outside. I really had not much styling in my head; I just wanted to get some shots before the skies opened up. These may not be the best pictures but I like them anyway simply because I'll always recognize the moment they were taken in.
The thunderstorm eventually hit, but luckily we (including the cake) were all doing fine. I sat in the dark cottage with all lights and electrical devices turned off and silently ate my cake while gazing out the window. Happy face.
Redcurrant Buttermilk Cake
makes 1 sheet cake
The cake is usually made as a sheet cake, but to make a cake as seen in the pictures just halve the recipe and bake in a cake pan (I used a shallow 28 cm / 11" to 17 cm / 7" pan). Note that the berries must be dried carefully to prevent them from sinking to the bottom while baking. If your berries are really juicy and you feel nervous about them, simply toss the berries in some flour or potato starch to give them a light coating before sprinkling them on top of the cake. The flour/starch will absorb the potential liquid and keep the berries from sinking.
100 g (1 ½ dl; ⅔ cup) graham flour
290 g (5 dl + 2 tbsp; 2 cups + 4 tbsp) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
4 ½ dl (1 ¾ cups + 2 ⅓ tbsp) buttermilk (if you are in Scandinavia, you can use filmjölk instead or make your own buttermilk)
150 g unsalted butter, melted
350 g (4 dl; 1 ⅔ cups) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste (or 1 vanilla bean, split open & seeds scraped out)
2 eggs (M)
~ 600 g (~ 1 ½ lb) redcurrants, cleaned & dried carefully
powdered sugar, to dust
optional: vanilla ice cream, to serve
Preheat the oven to 250°C (475°F). Line a deep baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl mix together the buttermilk, melted butter, sugar, vanilla paste, and eggs. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Let the batter sit for about 5 minutes.
Pour the batter into the baking dish and top with the redcurrants. Bake on the middle rack for 20 to 30 minutes, or until deep brown in color. Let cool a bit and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy warm or at room temperature plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cake will keep for up to two days.