We enjoyed the Bilberry Muffins so much, that I thought I’d try a variation on the theme and use up some of the black currants in my freezer. Black currants are something I’d never tasted nor heard of except related to cassis syrup (syrup made from black currants and commonly used in liquor), but in Finland most people who have a garden will also have several black currant bushes as well (occasionally they’ll grow red currants and white currants as well, but these are less common). The plump, black berries are ready in mid to late August depending on where you are in Finland, and they have sweet/tart flavor that to me is reminiscent of both cinnamon and anise. I made a black currant, lemon & star anise jam the other day to test the theory of how well the black currants would go with those spices, and it was lovely – though perhaps next time I’d use a little less lemon. Maybe I’ll post that jam here at a later date.
Black currant jam is most typically served with meats – usually chicken. JJ is looking forward to pairing my black currant jam with a Chicken Curry one of these days, and I’m looking forward to trying it! I tried the jam with these muffins, though, with a small spoonful of plain yogurt, and I really liked the extra burst of blackcurrant flavor.
But I wanted to try black currants for something that didn’t include meat. I also wanted a muffin that was dense, not too sweet – and healthy enough to eat without guilt for breakfast. If you like a sweeter muffin, you’ll want to increase the sugar to 3/4, though I don’t think they need it. The lemon balances the flavor of the black currants, and the cardamom is a very subtle but welcome addition, that you notice only after the second or third bite. The buttermilk makes these nice & moist – if you don’t have it you can substitute a cup of runny plain yogurt or milk mixed with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
If you don’t have black currants, try these with blackberries. I think the lemon & cardamom would go well with them also. These freeze well, and you can keep them in an airtight container on the countertop to enjoy for up to 4 days.
Black Currant Bran Muffins with Lemon & Cardamom
Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C
In a large bowl combine:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat bran (you could also use whole wheat or oatmeal if you don’t have wheat bran)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
In a separate bowl whisk together:
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons of olive oil
zest of one lemon
Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over mix. Add:
1 1/2 cups frozen blackcurrants (frozen blackberries would be excellent here as well)
Mix until the berries are distributed throughout. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners and divide the batter evenly among the liners. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before eating.
Makes 12 muffins.