I lived in Southern California for 20+ years, and I can honestly say that I can't remember ever seeing red currants at any of my local markets. Now that I think about it, this fact doesn't come as a huge shock considering where I grew up. Anyway, once I moved to WA, come summer, currants are out and about at many of my favorite markets. I know this won't be the case for everyone, but if you're interested in trying these berries keep your eyes peeled, or simply ask your produce person and hopefully you'll be able to snag a least one small container—I promise they are worth it.
Now if you live in the states and you hear someone say the word "currants," you might immediately think of Zante currants, those widely available little dried grapes. But these currants are a totally different thing. These berries are not a grape at all, instead they are a flowering shrub which you can find in various hues like black, red, or white (translucent). These tiny berries are quite tart on their own, which I think makes them quite versatile, so they can easily be folded into a cake, turned into a jam, or even added to a savory dish.
Since my experience with currants is super limited I wanted to use them in a familiar baked treat, like this lemon loaf. I am a huge fan of sweets, but I prefer my treats to be not overly sweet. I have been eyeing this lemon loaf from HowSweetEats for a while and I thought the addition of some red currants would add a little contrasting tartness to such an already saccharine treat. Plus, I am a sucker for a good lemon loaf, so making this was a no brainer.
This lemon loaf is incredibly moist and fragrant. The lemon zest and currants worked really well together. I only added a cup of red currants, but I actually wish I would have added just a bit more. I am not sure how much longer currants will be available in my neck of the woods, but I am hoping to grab just a few more for an upcoming recipe so stay tuned for more ideas on how to use currants.
Lemon & Red Currant Yogurt Loaf
Barely adapted from HowSweetEats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
3 large eggs
zest of two lemons
2 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup red currants
Equipment: 1 9x5'' loaf pan, parchment paper, whisk, microplane zester, cooling rack
Heat the oven to 350°F. Light grease the loaf pan and line with a piece of parchment paper. Lay the piece of parchment across the width of the pan, letting a bit hang over.
In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. In a large bowl, add the sugar and the lemon zest. Rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers until fragrant. Add the yogurt and whisk until combined. Then whisk in the egg, and vanilla extract until smooth.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and gently mix until combined. Add the oil to the bowl, and use a spatula to fold into the batter. Once the oil is just incorporated, add the red currants and fold into the batter just 2-3 times.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the top with 1-2 tbs of sugar. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set and a toothpick come out clean when inserted in to the middle of the loaf.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes, then remove from the pan using the excess parchment flaps and set on a cooling rack to cool. Garnish with some extra currants and serve once cooled.