Last week, Vera asked me to find a dessert recipe for her in anticipation of this week’s American continent theme.
I suggested at least 5 or 6 recipes to her, including this one that was her original choice… before she changed her mind for her recipe of tourment d’amour (agony of love)… Luckily, this recipe caught my eye as soon as I discovered it… even if it does not contain any unusual ingredient… yes, I sometimes I happen to cook “simple”…
Trinidad and Tobago is an island nation with a population of just over one million off the Venezuelan coast, a country that I traveled to a few weeks ago with my pabellon criollo. The cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago is varied by its multitude of influences including Indian, African, Creole, Amerindian, European, Chinese and even Lebanese. The island had been under British control until its independence about fifty years ago, which explains why its cuisine has been partly influenced by dishes from the UK. The currants roll is a perfect example.
Indeed, even if currants roll is a typical specialty of the island of Trinidad and Tobago, it is largely based on a British dessert created in the late eighteenth century. This pastry called Eccles cake takes its name from the town of Eccles in the suburbs of Manchester. This currant-based dessert has several variants depending on the region of origin such as Chorley cake, the sad cake, the currant square, the Blackburn cake, the Banbury cake or the currants roll that I prepared this week. Currants roll features a rolled flaky crust that is sliced diagonally.
Although I love pastries, I only bake occasionally including for 196 flavors. Indeed, I don’t have the patience… and I think I’m too “creative” to follow a recipe exactly, which is often necessary in baking. I loved this roll for different reasons. First, even if there is a waiting time for the dough, the recipe does not have too many steps and it does not need that many ingredients. More importantly, the sourness of currants balanced with butter and sugar gives this rather simple roll an exquisite flavor and texture.
The kind of sugar traditionally used for this recipe is brown sugar. Last week, I went to lunch with a friend in a Mexican neighborhood about twenty minutes from my home. Whenever I find myself in an ethnic neighborhood, I just can’t help it, I just splurge at the local market. This time was no exception to the rule. At the end of our lunch, I went to the market right next to our restaurant. One of my finds: mini cone-shaped sugarloaves. For this roll recipe, I therefore grated this sugar rather than using brown sugar.
Needless to say, between my kids, my wife and me, the first roll did not last long. I had to put the second one in the freezer to do damage control as I am on a pseudo-diet right now… #DietStartsTomorrow
Update (October, 18th 2015): I made this currants roll again today and it was even more delicious. I received organic currants from Greece from my friend George Menzelos from Arianna Trading Company (yes the same George who had sent me the olive oil and organic tomato sauce I used for my Cypriot makaronia tou fournou). It was also the occasion for me to take new photos. Enjoy!
Recipe of the Currants Roll
Ingredients (for 2 rolls)
For the dough
- 3 cups flour
8 tablespoons butter, cold and diced
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cold and diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup iced water or more
For the filling
- 1-1/2 cup dried currants
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, diluted in 1 tablespoon milk
Sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Cut the cold butter and vegetable shortening (place in freezer for about 25 minutes if necessary)
Sift the flour into a food processor bowl, add salt and butter and shortening, cut into cubes.
Give the mixture a few pulses in the food processor until reaching the texture of peas.
Start adding iced water. Add 3/4 cup to start and add the remaining water until the dough takes shape.
Place the dough on a flour-dusted surface and work quickly to form a smooth ball of dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to cool and firm up for about 2 hours.
In a large bowl, place the cinnamon, currants and brown sugar and mix.
Add vanilla (optional and not traditional)
Remove dough from refrigerator.
Cut the dough into 2 pieces, then roll the first on a floured surface.
Roll to a thin rectangular shape (less than 1/4 inch).
Brush the surface with half the melted butter.
Pour half of the mixture of currants on the dough making sure to leave about 1 inch without filling on the edges.
Roll the dough like a big cigar (very tight) in a cylindrical shape.
The tighter it is, the more layers your currants roll will have in the end.
Pinch the ends to seal.
Repeat with the other piece of dough and the mixture of remaining currants.
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Beat the egg and milk and brush the surface of each roll to give them a nice golden color when coming out of the oven.
Sprinkle with a little sugar (optional) before placing them in the middle of the oven at 350 F for about 50 minutes.
Let cool before slicing. The traditional way is to cut diagonally.
Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar immediately after removal from the oven for a final touch.