Cake as Currency

Friday, January 22, 2021

  • 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) + 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 teaspoons very finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or a slightly generous 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, if, like me, you use a saltier salt, like Morton)
  • 1 + 1/2 cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (110 g) dried currants (I was able to find some at a local Whole Foods)
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Flaky salt, to finish (optional)
  1. Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Lightly butter a 9-inch round pan, then line the bottom with a round of parchment and lightly butter that. Inspired by the ciambellone, I then coated my pan with granulated sugar instead of the usual flour, knocking out any excess sugar from the pan. As well as keeping the cake from sticking to the pan, the sugar forms a delicious sort of delicate crust on the outside of your cake that is absolutely delightful.
  3. Add your sugar to a large bowl.
  4. Zest the lemon directly into the sugar. Using your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until the mixture resembles wet sand; this releases the essential oils from the zest, so you really capture all that zingy, lemony flavor.
  5. Add 3/4 cup (150 g) of sugar and the eggs and whisk until pale and foamy, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the sour cream, butter, rosemary, vanilla, and kosher salt. Whisk until smooth. With the rosemary, it sort of looked like I was making an omlette at this point. I promise you aren’t.
  7. Add the flour, currants, baking powder, and baking soda to the bowl and stir with a rubber spatula until well-combined and smooth.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles, and smooth the top of the batter with your spatula, if needed. Sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar and a dash of flaky salt over the top. The flaky salt here is optional; I didn’t feel the need to add it this time around, but if you like that sweet-and-salty thing, go for it, just don’t go wild — a little pinch scattered evenly across the top of the cake is sufficient.
  9. Bake the cake until puffed and golden, and a tester (toothpick!) inserted into the center comes out clean, 30–40 minutes.
  10. Set the pan on a rack to cool. After about 15 minutes, run a butter knife along the edge of your cake to make sure it releases cleanly from the pan, and gently turn the cake out of the pan. Peel off the parchment round from the bottom of the cake, and flip it back right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. Once cool, you can store the cake, well-wrapped or in Tupperware, at room temperature for up to three days. It’s possibly delicious even longer, but we’ve never gone past the three-day mark in my house. Oops.

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Helen Grace

Pursuing the simple joys of butter, flour, and eggs, 52 weeks a year.