Tuesday, 18 December 2018

blackcurrant and star anise chiffon cake, with blackberry and lemon


Blackcurrant and aniseed; a flavour combination I've loved since I was a kid, dyeing my teeth black with inappropriately named lollies, and later as a teen, drinking questionable mixers with other unfortunate results! These days I generally use aniseed flavours in savoury dishes, star anise and Thai basil are two favourites, but it's Christmas and I'm feeling nostalgic, so blackcurrant and aniseed it is.

Chiffon cakes are so versatile, experimenting with the liquid component and adding spices achieves all sorts of interesting flavours. I reduced the sugar, and added blackcurrant cordial and ground star anise to find the taste I was looking for; a fruity, lightly spiced sponge, amplified with a tangy blackcurrant compote. It's not a flavour combination for everyone, if aniseed is really not your thing, just omit the star anise and add the finely grated zest of a lemon to the dry ingredients, the blackcurrant and lemon work beautifully together. 

This cake ain't for everybody, only the quirky people... 🎶

blackcurrant and star anise chiffon cake
preparation time 30 minutes, serves 16

6 eggs, separated
1 extra egg white
225g plain cake flour (if you can't find cake flour substitute with regular plain flour)
220g caster sugar
50g extra caster sugar
1tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground star anise
100ml  Barker's New Zealand blackcurrant cordial
80ml water
120ml canola oil, or similar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar (not essential, but will stabilise the egg whites)

140g lemon curd, store bought is totally fine!
mascarpone filling, recipe below
blackcurrant compote, recipe below 
1 punnet blackberries

 preheat your oven to 170ºC

• combine the cake flour, baking powder, ground star anise and salt, sift into a the bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one, and with the paddle attachment mix through the 220g caster sugar 
• make a well in the centre of your flour mixture, add the blackcurrant cordial, water, egg yolks, and oil, mix until smooth
• in another, really large bowl whisk the 7 egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar then mix until you have soft peaks, gradually add the additional 50g caster sugar, whisking until you have firm peaks and the sugar has dissolved
• fold the egg whites into the batter in three stages
• divide the batter equally between 3 ungreasedunlined 20cm springform cake tins and bake for 30 minutes
• remove the cakes from the oven, and leaving them in the tins, immediately invert onto racks to cool; expect the cakes to sink slightly in the centre as they cool, they'll form prefect shallow bowls to load with the filling :)
• when completely cool, to release the cakes, run a sharp knife around the inside of the cake tin, remove the outer ring leaving the cake sitting on the base of the tin. This next stage is a little tricky, slide a strong thread, I use dental floss, between the base of the cake and the tin, slide all the way through, pressing the thread against the base as you go, invert the cakes onto a flat surface and you're ready to assemble
• keep the neatest, most even cake for the top layer, place another layer, flat side down on your serving plate/cake stand. Gently spread with half the lemon curd, top with half the mascarpone cream, dot with dessert spoons of blackcurrant compote, swirl together, finally scatter with half the blackberries. Repeat with the next layer, finishing with the final cake layer, flat side facing up
• you could simply dust the cake with icing sugar, or decorate as you like; I love using fresh fruit and flowers, but went a little festive with this one, it is almost Christmas
• slice giant slabs of cake with a serrated knife and enjoy
• the cake will keep covered in the fridge for 4 days




mascarpone filling
preparation time 5 minutes

500g mascarpone
300ml cream

• tip the mascarpone into a mixing bowl, using the paddle attachment beat for 10 seconds or so, until smooth, add the cream, mix until smooth, thick and creamy
• store in the fridge until ready to use

blackcurrant compote
preparation time 10 minutes

350g blackcurrants, fresh or frozen

60ml Barker's New Zealand blackcurrant cordial
75g caster sugar

• tip all the ingredients into a small pan, bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar has dissolved

• simmer over a medium heat until the blackcurrants have softened and the juices are thick and syrupy
• leave to cool, store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use



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