Simple Pear and White Currant Butter Cake with Swedish Vanilla Sauce

I am very excited about this recipe because it contains an ingredient from our garden…. white currants!

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When I say garden, what I really mean is from our yard… because if I say garden you probably get the impression that I worked really hard to grow these beautiful berries… but the reality is, my husband and I have just come to the conclusion that we really aren’t gardeners. Back in the states we grew some cherry tomatoes once, which turned out great, and tried our hand at strawberries, but the birds ate them all. Then this spring we make the trek out to a large garden store and bought some strawberries (with some fencing this time!), sweet peas, leeks, and raspberries. We spent time planting them only to realize that we hate weeding, we’re not great at remembering when to water them (or really how much to water them), and the rewards of a few tomatoes wasn’t really worth it to us.

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This is not to say that we think those who love to garden and do it well are wasting their time! In fact, we both WISH we liked gardening… but alas you can only have so many talents, right? 🙂

Since gardening is not our forte, we ended up being really lucky that there are a lot of natural plants that grow really well on their own in Sweden! We have some rhubarb that grew like CRAZY in our garden this year. Someone who lived here before us must have planted it and without any tending from us, it has produced more rhubarb than we could possibly eat. We often see rhubarb in other people’s yards and it really is a Swedish treat found in many desserts (if you’re on instragram, I shared a simple rhubarb crumble recipe).

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In addition to the rhubarb, we have two small apple trees in our yard that have produced a few small apples. There are also some larger apple trees with tons of apples lining the walking path near our house. I love that everyone in the community can come and pick some apples for free :).

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There are also lots of wild raspberries in our yard and on this same pathway. The raspberries we planted didn’t really work out so well (see, even a plant that is SUPPOSED to do well was ruined by us!) but we’ve seen a few red raspberries on the wild bushes.

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In fact, there are lots of wild berries that grow well here in Sweden. Up near the family cabin in Dalarna, the forest floor is literally covered in lingon and blueberries, and many local people spend hours picking them to sell or freeze.

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And of course, we have lots of white currants!

Again, without any care from us, this currant bush in our yard has produced lots of juicy little berries over the last two summers. If you’ve never had a white currant, they are mostly tart, with a hint of sweetness. We’re able to eat a few on their own, but they really taste better in something sweet. Like a cake!

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This is actually based on a cake from one of my favorite Swedish baking books, which I’ve mentioned before, and is one I have made many times. The original recipe calls for apples, but I have made it with pears before and thought the currants would be another great addition!

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It turned out perfectly…. the cake is buttery and moist, and the sprinkle of sugar on top plus the slices of pear add a great contrast to the tartness of the white currants.

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To add a bit more to this simple cake, I also made homemade vanilla sauce – a Swedish dessert tradition. Almost every time you get a pie or piece of cake in Sweden, it will come with vanilla sauce. It is basically like the most delicious melted vanilla ice cream :).

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So with this confession of my inability to garden, I hope I have made those of you who are also garden-challenged feel that you are not alone, and those with a green-thumb to appreciate their skills! And maybe inspire a few of you to try out some delicious white currants on top of a yummy, buttery cake :).

Simple Pear and White Currant Butter Cake

  • Servings: 7-9 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

As I mentioned in the post, I have also made this cake with sliced apples on top and it was delicious. In fact, I think this would be good topped with almost any fruit! I used a 27cm spring-form pan, which does not seem to fit well with American sizes – you could use a 10 inch pan, but the cake will be a bit thicker. This cake tastes great warm, but can also be stored covered in the fridge and eaten the next day. This recipe is adapted from Swedish Cakes and Cookies.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup butter / 175 g smör
  • 1 cup sugar / 2 dl socker
  • 3 eggs / ägg
  • 1½ cups flour / 3.5 dl vetemjöl
  • ¾ tsp baking powder / bakpulver
  • 3 tablespoons milk / mjölk
  • 1 pear / päron
  • white currants / vitavinbär
  • 2 tablespoons sugar / socker

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C.
  2. Grease the spring-form pan with butter, making sure to get the sides.
  3. Melt the butter, let cool, then stir together with the sugar.
  4. Add the eggs to the mixture, beating well after each one.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder.
  6. Add half the dry mixture in with the wet mixture and stir until just combined.
  7. Add half the milk, then repeat until the milk and dry ingredients are all mixed.
  8. Pour the mixture into the greased pan.
  9. Thinly slice the pear to make long pieces and place them on top in a pinwheel shape.
  10. Sprinkle the rest of the cake with white currants that have been washed and dried.
  11. Bake the cake in the pre-heated oven for 35 minutes, then sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of sugar on top before baking another 5 minutes.
  12. Enjoy with vanilla sauce (recipe below!)

Swedish Vanilla Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

You can easily make this while you are waiting for the above cake to cook! This sauce also goes well with other pies and cakes :). You might need to play around with the amount of corn starch until you get the desired consistency – it should be thick and foamy.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar / vaniljsocker
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar / strösocker
  • 2 egg yolks / äggulor
  • ½ cup whipping cream / 1.2 dl vispgrädde
  • ½ cup milk / 1.2 dl mjölk
  • 1 tsp corn starch / majsstärkelse

Directions

  1. Whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla sugar, and egg yolks.
  2. In a small pot on medium-low heat, warm the milk and cream.
  3. Slowly pour the heated milk mixture into the egg and sugar mixture, whisking constantly.
  4. Pour the mixture back into the pot and lower the heat to low, stirring constantly.
  5. Add a few drops of cold milk or cream to the cornstarch in a small bowl, mixing until it forms a paste.
  6. Add a tablespoon of the warm mixture from the pot into the cornstarch paste and repeat after mixing well.
  7. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the pot and whisk well until the mixture thickens.
  8. Remove from heat and serve warm or chilled with the cake (recipe above!).

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