Summer is here. Bake something summery :)

April 09, 2011

Red Currant Walnut Sheet Cake

Finally! Easter is coming and green grass is almost everywhere, flowers are in blossom, insect is (unfortunately) waking up and - the most important one - sun is shining! While I'm getting ready to start another baking season in my kitchen (our national Easter sweets have to be done :D), the others are roller skating, running, just walking or playing ball games in park. I don't mind that. I mean I love roller skating but baking is my true passion :) And when I'm really tired from this particular activity I just run out (or maybe I should say roller skate out if this even exists :D) and enjoy the fresh air. When I come back home I always feel like eating something juicy, fresh and not very heavy. I'd say this sheet cake belongs to this cathegory and delivers all these things. Plus it's perfect for hot Sunday afternoons when you want a sweet after-lunch treat.

I know that red currants aren't in their season yet, but maybe you have some in your freezer and don't know what to do with them. I do have a huge lot of red currants (not dried!) there from summer - there's always so much of them that it's impossible to use them all. Last year I made this Red Currant Sour Cream Tart. This recipe doesn't differ that much but it's something a bit new. It consists of sweet shortcrust-like dough, walnut rum layer and red currants in meringue. It's quite easy to put together, doesn't require much time so you can concentrate on other things like decorating your Easter cookies, baking Hot Cross Buns, Simnel cake and other typical Easter dishes.

I understand that red currant maybe quite expensive in other countries so if you cannot buy it/ don't have etc. I think you can feel free to substitute some other sour berries for the red currant - for example fresh cranberries, raspberries, black currant, white currant and the list goes on. Just remember it must be sour! The other components are sweet to balance the sourness of red currant and the meringue needs to be sweet otherwise it wouldn't be good.

I had a hard time deciding what name this sheet cake should have. I mean sheet cake is usually layered cake with some kind of frosting in the shape of square or rectangle. This sheet cake is something pretty much different - it's like huge rectangle tart or pie or maybe even something like crostata - at least the dough is quite similar. I also considered calling it a coffee cake but again, that's something a bit different. This kind of cake is very typical for my country where it's called "koláč" (read koh-lach). Google translates this into pie, but it's not the same. Never mind, this sheet cake is really delicious and easy, so oyu can make other more important stuff and have a sweet treat at the same time :)

400g all-purpose flour, sifted
200g cold butter, cut into tiny lumps
130g powdered sugar
4 egg yolks
Walnut layer:
300g ground walnuts
150g powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
20ml rum
4 egg whites
Red Currant layer:
800g red currants
200g powdered sugar
4 egg whites

Dough: Mix together sugar and flour in a bowl. Add butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. Using a knife and then your fingertips. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten egg yolks into it. Use a knife to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for about 30 minutes. Then remove from the fridge and place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out into a large rectangle shape (aprox. 30x40cm). Transfer the rolled dough into greased and floured baking sheet (30x40) and make sure there are 2cm edges.
Walnut layer: In a bowl, combine all ingredients together and mix well.
Assembling: Spread the walnut layer evenly onto the dough in the baking sheet and bake in preheated oven to 180C for up to 10 minutes (the dough should not change color). Remove from oven, quickly spread the red currant layer onto the prebaked cake and now bake in the oven with temperature lowered to 150-160C for 20-30 minutes or until the surface is lightly golden in color. Let cool completely and then serve (otherwise it would fall apart).
Red Currant layer: Beat egg whites and sugar together until firm peaks form (it'll take several minutes). Add red currants and gently fold in using wooden spatula.

  • Feel free to use other types of currants (like black, white etc.).
  • You can use frozen red currants, do not defrost them or they'll get soggy.

Don't be afraid of the lenght of the directions! I just love to explain everything in detail and that's why it's so long but only takes about an hour to put this together. I love the contrast between sweet meringue, sour red currants and nutty rum layer infused with cinnamon! The dough is melt-in-your-mouth and shortcrusty. I found the original recipe in one magazine (very old one) but I cut it out a long time ago so no source. However, I didn't follow it to the T and made some twists and it turned out pretty good :) This cake requires just a little effort and yet it delivers very tasty results (if - of course - you like red currants).


  1. What a perfect way to welcome easter!! Looks soo yummm..The layers r perfectly done!!

  2. This cake looks beautiful and delicious! Your photography is really lovely!

  3. Three-Cookies, Ramya, Cares and Mimi: Thank you all for so nice words :)

  4. What a gorgeous cake! I like the combination of the layers. You're lucky to have a stash of red currant in the freezer. All types of currants are expensive here. I can see how you need a tart fruit though. Perfect realization, as shown in the photos. I suspect only a few crumbs were left.

  5. Love red currant, though it is definitely under-used in baking!
    It looks and sounds delicious, look at those colours!
    Thanks a lot for your comment on my blog post!

  6. wow! this looks wonderful! i am baking my way through a cookbook right now but this is going on my baking goals list and i'm going to post about it! it looks so good, thanks for sharing!

  7. Simona: Thank you :) I even ate the crumbs :D I had no idea that currants are expensive there. On the other hand pecan nuts and cranberries aren't very cheap here where I live.

    Lea: You're welcome and thank you for your nice comment :) And I agree with you, there seems to be only a few recipes using red currants.

    Eating in Winnipeg: Thank you! I'm glad to hear (or in this case read) this :) Let me know when you make it :) Good luck with the cookbook (I bet all creations from it will be super tasty).

  8. Easter and green grass, how well compared !
    The hope of spring and new life!
    The sheet cake is one of the most wonderful one i have ever seen and i love the combi of red currant and walnuts , absolutely delightful!
    Thannxxx a bunch for all the love and care!

  9. ♥Sugar♥Plum♥Fairy♥: Thank you a lot for such a nice comment!! You're welcome :) I hope you enjoyed Easter and now you're okay again :))

  10. Looks delicious! I have a couple of red currant bushes and want to make this when I get fruit this summer. Are all the egg whites for the currant layer or are there some in the walnuts as well?

  11. Maggie: Thank you! As it is written in the ingredients, you need 4 egg whites for the currant layer and 4 egg whites for the walnut layer (they'll help the walnuts to hold together). Hope this helps :) Let me know when you try it out in summer :)

  12. Isnt this way too much flour to get it to come into a ball?


Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you find here what you're looking for or something new :) If you like the post, have some notes or questions, please let me know by commenting :) I really appreciate any reaction (either positive or negative) and I'll try to respond as soon as possible :)