Wednesday 18 July 2012

Blackcurrant Jam Cake

with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Things are busy at the moment; CT is moving out (eventually) but his new place needs some work on it first, and he's not very practically minded, so needs our help. There are the also the contents of his room, and his new things, to move into his home - although he can carry his own books up two flights of stairs! In addition, my mother is getting old and frail, and needs more help with errands and the increasing number of hospital appointments. Then there's the battle between the garden and the weather - the weeds are growing fast at the moment, so there's always work to do out there. With all this vying for my attention, time is running out to take part in my usual monthly baking challenges.

Luckily, this odd cake fits the brief for two of the challenges that I take part in regularly - We Should Cocoa (using chocolate and blackcurrants together) and AlphaBakes (where W is the randomly generated letter). I was going to include it in the Tea Time Treats challenge, as a traybake suitable for a cake stall, but decided that anything with nuts in carried a risk of triggering an allergy, so was best avoided, even though I do label my cake stall donations with an ingredient list.

Blackcurrants  are a fruit that I've never considered pairing with chocolate before this We Should Cocoa challenge, and even after scouring the internet for ideas, I couldn't come up with anything using dark chocolate that sounded a good way to combine them. White chocolate seemed a much better option. There was also the not inconsiderable problem of not finding any fresh fruit in my usual supermarkets, so having to use a processed version instead - in this case, jam. However, my searches threw up 'jam cakes', a speciality of the southern states of the USA, although I did find one reference to them also being a wartime adaptation to deal with sugar shortages here in the UK - presumably using jam laid down in the years prior to rationing.

After reading a lot of recipes, I decided to use this UK recipe from Annie Bell, as she is a reliable recipe writer, and this cake wasn't as huge as those produced in other recipes. Although this recipe uses a buttercream filling, many of the US recipes use a cream cheese frosting, and it seemed a logical step forward to add white chocolate to a cream cheese frosting, which would fit the challenge brief perfectly. As well as combining chocolate and blackcurrants for We Should Cocoa, white chocolate gave me the W for AlphaBakes

I decided to bake the cake as a traybake, and use a topping instead of a filling - a wise decision, as it turned out, as the cake wasn't really deep enough to split easily. My only adaptations to the recipe were to use blackcurrant jam instead of strawberry (many US recipes specify blackberry jam - a similar dark colour) and to add dried blueberries instead of raisins. I then added a white chocolate cream cheese frosting of my own devising. I intended to bake the cake in a 20 x 30cm tray, but it was clear after making the batter that it wouldn't go that far, so I changed to a 20cm square tin.

While the cake was cooling I tried to make the frosting, which reminded me how much I hate working with melted white chocolate. Melting 100g white chocolate with 20g butter, in a bowl over hot water, left me with a thick paste in the bottom of the bowl. This was made liquid by the addition of a tablespoon of milk. After cooling the mixture a little, I incorporated 100g icing sugar, followed by 150g full fat cream cheese. The sugar made the mixture very stiff, but beating in the cream cheese turned it back to a thinner consistency which needed refrigerating to get it to a spreadable texture - unfortunately it never did set to the firmer consistency that I hoped for.

I called this an odd cake earlier because the outcome didn't really match the ingredients put in - I expected a fruitier flavour, but the spices were predominant, although even there, the flavour was quite delicate. The cake stayed an interesting purply colour and the nuts and dried blueberries added a chewy texture. The frosting was a pleasant vanilla flavour, but didn't really do anything to enhance the cake - it would have been better if had set more firmly. Overall, although we didn't dislike the cake, no-one liked it enough for it to be made again - bland and tasteless was one description, but others might think differently!

PS - July 19th. The flavour of the cake matured overnight! It was a much better flavour the next day, but it still wasn't special enough to make me want to make it again.

The We Should Cocoa Challenge (rules here) is hosted jointly by Chele from Chocolate Teapot and Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog, this month's challenge, to use blackcurrants, was set by Choclette. The round-up of entries will be on Chocolate Log Blog at the end of the month.

The AlphaBakes Challenge (rules here) is a monthly baking challenge to make something  featuring a randomly chosen letter - this can be part of the name of the product or one of the major ingredients. It is hosted jointly by Caroline, from Caroline Makes, and Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker, who take turns to generate a random letter and collate the entries. This month Caroline is the host, and her random letter generator picked W!


Choclette said...

Oh Suelle, I'm always so disappointed when your WSC bakes don't turn out as well as you hoped. I so appreciated that you enter every month and always enter into the proper challenge spirit. All I can say is a big thank you, especially given how busy you are.

I too couldn't quite envisage blackcurrants with dark chocolate, so went for a white chocolate combination. Luckily, I was pleased with the combination of flavour, texture and colour.

Wishing CT all the best in his new home and hope things calm down for you a bit.

Suelle said...

Don't worry, Choclette! I enjoy these challenges - they stop me getting into a rut and make me think about new ingredients and flavour combinations.

Caroline Cowe said...

I've never heard of a jam cake before, I'm learning a lot from hosting this challenge! Thanks for entering it into alphabakes :-)

Phil in the Kitchen said...

This sounds like a really interesting idea for a cake, so it's a shame it didn't work out quite the way you'd hoped. I share your dislike of the perfidious melted white chocolate but, on the other hand, dark chocolate and blackcurrants just doesn't sound right.

Katie said...

It looks lovely. Shame it didn't turn out as you'd hoped, but without trying you'd never know!

Unknown said...

Do you know, I initially thought of a cake like this but the thought of having white chocolate seize on me was enough to change my mind!
It looks so pretty I can understand your disappointment. But worth doing all the same, don't you think?

Suelle said...

KM - any new idea that looks appealing is worth trying - you never find the recipes worth keeping otherwise. And even if we didn't like it much, others might think differently if they try it.

DAKOTA said...

I've got to try this recipe!!!! delicious!!!!

Baking Addict said...

Thanks for entering AlphaBakes despite your busy schedule - sounds like you have a lot on your plate at the moment. Hope it all works out.
I'm glad you tried this recipe - it sounds interesting but it's disappointing that it wasn't memorable. Love the colour of the cake! :)

Caroline said...

I hope all of your busy house moving and so forth goes well - very stressful! I do like the idea of jam cakes and this one sounds interesting if not quite to your taste.