Once the abundant apple harvest is over (and here I mean only our fresh apple stock – because all the apple derivatives are piled in our attics and actively given out to friends), here comes the time to use another abundant fruit which in my family is usually preserved frozen – berries. We have those madly fruitful bushes of red and black currants at our dacha and it’s normally up to me to use the stock, playing around these ingredients to bake a new sweet-berry-something each time. Here‘s how my Mom freezes berries, by the way.
So here they are, the recipes of the post-apple era! And as I use black (mostly, they’re more abundant and when baked they lose their tangy flavour which I cannot stand in their fresh state) & red currants even where blueberries or blackberries or raspberries or other berries are required (I just simply do not have any), feel free to substitute them with whatever berries you have.
My suggestions (while I was preparing this post, the amount of the recipes increased to four):
Blueberry Cheese Danish Cake adapted from moderncomfortfood.com will make an impressive cake even if you skip the sliced almonds 😉 and even if the cottage cheese topping sinks a bit to the bottom, the cake is cool.
My changes: as we have large amounts of the apple puree my Mum and Granny have made from the apples, I’m already used to substituting a part of the required butter in the recipes with the apple puree and sunflower oil (I’ve seen in some recipes that they use apple puree instead of oil actually) and this combination seems to work in all sorts of muffins and cakes.
To make up for light brown sugar I naturally mixed the white and the brown sugars and as for the ‘buttermilk or plain yogurt’ – I used some milk + kefir. Also, there were no lemons in the fridge, so I squeezed some fresh orange juice.
For the topping, I used a 250g block of 5% fat tvorog, added more sugar for my sweet toothed parents, more flour + with some semolina to make the mixture less liquid. And the berries, of course, were far from blueberries and far from fresh frozen – they were frozen red & black currants, thawed a bit and tossed up with flour.
I omitted the decoration with almonds completely but chose to make the optional glaze – again with orange juice. I think it added not much of sweetness but rather some… character to the cake.
And you can see how the topping actually moved to the centre of the cake, but that’s just fine, no worries, cause the berries remained on top. Also, for the same reason of the cottage cheese ‘topping’ sinking towards the bottom, the dough part of the cake didn’t seem disproportionate compared to the berry topping.
The result: large, not over sweet and soft. And the slices were huge:)
Let me introduce now a leavened and layered participant of the berry dessert show:
Greta-Garbo-Schnitten adapted from www.hefe-und-mehr.de which makes dozens of small birthday cake-like pieces, tangy and crunchy and chocolaty! The author of the recipe says this is their traditional family recipe from Transylvania. Let’s suppose that this was the sole cake Greta Garbo was baking for her admirers 😉 Schnitte means a layered gateau which is cut in stripes.
And yes, this cake is leavened – it requires fresh yeast and a little bit more time to prepare, but just look here, it’s worth it!
And if you’re wondering what is the connection to the berries – well, this recipe asks for 450 grams of… currant jelly! And we have jars of it… It’s rather sour than sweet and thus the cake was also tangy but with the addition of the chocolate glaze (as I had no couverture, I just melted a bar of chocolate and dissolved it with some milk until it got more spreadable) the sweetness was somehow regained.
As for the nuts, I used walnuts + hazelnuts and added cinnamon to the mixture.
The dough rolls out with no problem and the layers pile up quickly:
I baked my cake for less than 35 minutes, it started browning too much.
Once you cover it with the chocolate glaze, cut it in squares and enjoy!
The result: first of all, interesting! There’s finally a very uncommon sweet which is, I don’t know, very sophisticated and … old-fashioned 😉
And now the third recipe:
Raspberry Crumb Bars adapted from jkitchenlog.blogspot.com – the recipe will give you crunchy sugary bars BOTH with fresh berries (even if they’re frozen:) and berry jam (which in our case is a-m-a-z-ing!).
I put more sugar, less butter, forgot about the salt, but added a whole bunch of spices, such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Of course I had no lemons so I substituted it with a … tangerine. For the frozen berries I thawed just red currants but as for the jam, I used Granny’s black currant jam (very liquid). Thus, I got both berries in one sweet 😉 I managed to cut the ‘sheet’ into squares without the help of the refrigerator and all in all (result) I think this was a very good recipe (as sometimes my berry bars are either overbaked or too soft). And you do not realize there’s just whole wheat flour in them, actually!
Finally, the fourth recipe is…
Heidelbeerkuchen or Blueberry Cake adapted (and ooops Google-translated) from www.chefkoch.de will certainly make even a better cake if you know German! 😉
I didn’t like the dough of this cake, I think it turned out too crunchy, perhaps because of the oil in it instead of butter or… because Google-translating your recipes might cause you some troubles, haha =) ha, indeed, the spell-checking thing has just warned me that Google-translating should be written with a capital letter!
The berries are supposed to be blueberries but I made a triple berry mix, thawing black & red currants + cowberries and tossing them with flour. And I definitely used less than a kilo of berries, although I perhaps should have, as they seem to diminish while baking.
I also enhanced the cake with cardamom (putting it everywhere). I added just a pinch of salt, cause I failed to decipher ‘Ei(er)’ =D So, if you will also try to make this cake, I will tell you what I figured out from the part which Google failed to translate: EL means Tablespoon, as far as I understood (so I put less than 4 Tbs of baking powder, the amount seemed to me a bit over-the-top). I didn’t use any ‘vanilla sauce powder flavor’ as Google put it, I just added even more cardamom. As for the quark – I used the good ol’ tvorog, but more of it (and it seems to me even more could have been added!), without any milk, because our tvorog is not the same as the German quark, it always becomes too liquid when mixed with eggs. When I realized that the quark filling was too scarce, I made an additional thin layer of sour cream on top (and then… spiced it up with mooooore cardamom, haha), which was a good idea after all. I like how the top cracked a bit, exposing the berries:
I baked my cake under aluminum foil for the second part of the required 60 minutes (at 180 ‘C), but the exposed dough however got quite browned. It was also browned on the bottom not like a regular cheesecake pastry – but my guess is that the cottage cheese used in the pastry could have caused that (especially our version, tvorog).
My friend Tanya enjoyed the cake, being a third-party judge 🙂
The result: would be even better if you use your favourite pastry recipe for the dough part! But even with the original one the cake has already disappeared…
The days are growing longer, bit by bit, but you can feel that already. And rejoice on that for sure!