I always feel sad when we come to the end of the seasonal Summer fruit glut, but there’s time for one last hoorah before embracing all the goodness of Autumn to come. Blackcurrants are a vastly underrated fruit in my opinion: they are just so good for you, packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, and their complex, almost fragrant, rich flavour is like no other. I usually make compote when I manage to get my hands on them – just the fruit, cooked gently until bursting, with a dash of sugar at the end – which serves as a perfect accompaniment to porridge, with yoghurt, spooned over ice cream… The list goes on. I also made blackcurrant cordial with our haul from Craigie’s Farm to preserve the essence of Summer just a little longer. Blackcurrants are also lovely to bake with and particularly delicious paired with aromatic thyme. Gill Meller’s delicate blackcurrant and thyme ladyfingers are worth the effort – these biscuits melt in the mouth and are particularly tasty warm from the oven, stained purple with popped berries and sprinkled liberally with icing sugar. To make them, you will need:
One egg, separated
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
30g golden caster sugar
20g plain flour
100g ripe blackcurrants
2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
2 tbsp icing sugar.
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ Gas 4. If you’re making the biscuits in a moulded tin, grease lightly with butter, or line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Place the egg yolk, salt, vanilla and half the sugar into a small bowl. Whisk for 3 – 4 minutes, until thick and light.
In a separate (larger) bowl, use a clean whisk to beat the egg white to stiff peaks. Add the remaining sugar and whisk again until firm.
Add a tablespoon of the egg whites to the yolk mixture, using a rubber spatula to gently combine them.
Then add the yolk mix to the remaining whites, sieve in the flour and gently fold everything together until evenly coloured. Don’t forget the flour like I did or you’ll be left with some extremely fragile biscuits!
Gently place the mixture into a piping bag – being careful not to knock out the air – and pipe the mixture either into your mould or onto the baking parchment in 10cm lines. Divide the blackcurrants randomly through these lengths, pressing them down lightly with your fingers, then sprinkle over the thyme. Sprinkle with half the icing sugar (it will dissolve into the biscuits) then rest for five minutes.
Sprinkle over the remaining icing sugar and place the biscuits in the oven straight away. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until golden, then remove from the oven to cool.
The blackcurrant and thyme ladyfingers will keep for up to two days in an airtight container – if they last that long. Perfect with a cuppa on a late Summer, sunny Sunday morning.
What are you baking this weekend? Are you a blackcurrant fan too?