Lemon Loaf with Blackcurrant Swirl
Updated: Mar 8, 2019
Buttery skin on the outside, moist and zesty middle filled with sweet and sharp blackcurrant swirl. The texture here is dense but moist. It’s a perfect loaf structure which places itself somewhere between light and airy tea cakes and slightly heavier, dense, egg and butter-rich pound cakes. We are mixing sour cream with juice from two lemons which give this loaf extra zesty punch and light texture. Addition of sweet and earthy blackcurrant jam gives that extra sharp dimension.
This type of loaf was our regular tea cake which mum prepared religiously every Saturday. Growing up we had bushes of blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries growing in our garden. During season it was like a real levy-in-mass - there was maybe one or two weeks where all of the fruit needed to be collected and processed in one way or the other. Mum used most of the fruit to prepare homemade marmalades and preserves which she then used for baking. To cut this waffle short - sharp preserves give fresh taste to your regular bakes. Great if preserves are homemade, but if not - you can find these days good quality replacements. On top of that, core ingredients make up for versatile loaf which you can jazz up in any way you want.
Preparation here is quick and easy. Two main hints before you start baking: use ingredients at room temperature and cream butter as suggested in the recipe (more on this in Hints section below the recipe). You will first cream butter with sugar and lemon zest until pale and creamy. Then you will add egg yolks, and start alternating dry and wet ingredients until incorporated. Don’t over-mix this part - best is to use wooden spoon or spatula here. At the end you will gently fold in egg whites.
You will then place 2/3rd of batter and add blackcurrant jam, then cover with remaining part of batter and using fork handle make few 8-shapes to create the swirl. Just few moves will do the job as otherwise you may over-mix the batter (you will get blackcurrant lemon loaf - which is fine and tasty too :)
Make sure you preheat oven for some 15 minutes before baking - you want the high temperature to hit the loaf immediately. No sneaky peeking when baking - start checking after 45 minutes into baking. Don’t cover the loaf with aluminium foil - it may crack slightly, which is OK. You may opt to cover baked loaf with lemon glaze or curd.
Lemon Loaf with Blackcurrant Swirl Recipe
Yield: 12 servings
Time: 20 minutes prep + 50 minutes baking
Tin: 10cmx20cm loaf tin
All ingredients at room temperature
- 4/5 cup (200g) sour cream
- Juice from 2 lemons (1/4 cup, approx 60ml)
- Lemon zest from 2 lemons
- 125g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
- 2 large eggs, separated
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups (300g) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 125g (5 Tablespoons) blackcurrant jam (with blackcurrant fruit)
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners' sugar
- 2 Tablespoons clear lemon juice
- 1- 2 Tablespoons water
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line the bottom of baking tin with parchment paper, lightly grease sides of the tin and apply thin layer of flour or spray with non-stick baking spray.
2. Prepare wet ingredients: Squeeze lemon juice from 2 lemons. Mix lemon juice with sour cream and set aside.
3. Prepare dry ingredients: Sift flour with baking soda. Set aside.
4. Prepare creamy base: In your main bowl beat butter on high speed for 2 minutes, add lemon zest and beat for 1 minute. Start adding sugar (2 Tablespoons at a time) and beat on medium speed until pale and creamy (some 6-8 minutes). Start adding egg yolks - one at a time, mixing in-between until incorporated. Set aside.
5. Combine: From now on mix with wooden spoon or spatula. Start adding dry ingredients (from Step 3) and wet ingredients (from Step 2) to your creamy cake base (from Step 4) alternating wet and dry ingredients - dry/wet/dry/wet/dry/wet. The batter will be fairly thick. Set aside. Beat egg whites with pinch of salt until firm (peaky but not dry). Gently fold in egg whites to cake batter and mix only until incorporated. Place 2/3rd of cake batter into the baking tin. Place 5 Tablespoons of blackcurrant jam on top (place gently, forming thin layer) and cover with the remaining part of batter. Using fork handle make few 8-shapes to create blackcurrant swirl - two or 3 moves should suffice.
6. Bake at 180C for 45-50 minutes. Check with skewer or chopstick if fully baked through. Once baked, take out from the oven and let the loaf cool in the tin for 15 minutes before transferring to the cooling rack.
7. Glaze (optional): mix confectioners’ sugar with 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and 1-2 Tablespoons of water until creamy and runny glaze is formed.
1. Use all ingredients at room temperature. If you don’t have time, you may opt to place eggs in bowl full of warm water. You may opt to warm up sour cream to 21C in a small pot.
2. Creaming butter - this is core to this cake - make sure you have butter out of the fridge for some 30 minutes to 1 hour before creaming. This way it will absorb sugar and create fluffy base. Don’t use salted butter (it really does affect texture in this bake). Take your time adding sugar - 2 Tablespoons at a time and mix well in-between additions.
3. Sour cream - you can split sour cream amount between yogurt, kefir and sour cream. Keep sour cream content at 75% at least to keep the texture in tact.
4. Make sure to sift flour with baking soda for even distribution. Add wet/dry ingredients slowly, alternating and mixing using wooden spoon or spatula. Don’t over-mix - just mix for few seconds after each addition until ingredients are combined and no flour pockets remain.
5. Oven temperature - you want to preheat your oven well before placing the loaf tin. For this bake it’s vital the loaf is hit with right temperature from the start. No sneaky peeking - only after 45 minutes into baking. Don’t cover the loaf with aluminium foil. If you have fan oven which you can’t switch off you may opt to bake at 170C.
Jazz things up:
1. Zest - you can bake the cake with orange, blood orange or grapefruit zest.
2. Jam - you can use blackcurrant, redcurrant, gooseberry jam, orange, blood orange jam, spiced orange with ginger.
3. Glaze - glaze with whatever zest you are using (glaze or curd). You may also opt to spread some jam on top and cover with zesty white chocolate ganache (50ml double cream, 150g white chocolate, zest from 1 fruit you used and 1 Tablespoon juice - depending on the quality of chocolate you may need to add 1 more Tablespoon of double cream to achieve runny ganache consistency). You may also opt to decorate with candied fruit - candied orange, lemon, ginger.
4. Versatile loaf recipe - the core proportions give you great texture placed between light and tender cakes and heavier pound cakes. You can jazz it up in whatever way you want:
- spiced chocolate - ditch lemons, add 4 Tablespoons of Dutch Cocoa and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to flour. Increase sour cream to 1 cup (240g), before mixing in egg whites add 3 Tablespoons blackcurrant jam and mix in with the batter. Once baked, cover top of the loaf with thin layer of blackcurrant jam and cover with dark chocolate ganache (150ml double cream, 150g 60% dark chocolate).
- spiced loaf - sift flour with cinnamon (2 tsps), nutmeg (1 tsp), allspice (1/2 tsp), ginger (1/2 tsp). Replace lemon juice with 80ml sparkling water, soda pops (like Sprite) or buttermilk/kefir - mix together with sour cream.