How, you may well ask, did I get my hands on these glorious fresh redcurrants? I've never, ever seen this quintessentially British summer fruit in a South African supermarket or greengrocer nor, indeed, on a bush.
Until a week or so ago, when I saw a little box of them at my local Woolworths. I made a lunge for them, blanched at the price and then, after a brief wrestle with my conscience, crossly put them back on the grounds that it's not very greeny-beany to buy stuff that's been flown in from Europe.
But I now discover that these are local redcurrants, grown near Porterville in the Western Cape, and in season for the next six weeks.
This intelligence came from my mate Trevor, blueberry grower and fruit-packer, and his wife Cindy, number one fan of this blog. Just a week after showering me with blueberries, she, bless her cotton socks, gave me two boxes of redcurrants. (Cindy saw on Facebook that I was on my way to see my uncle in Franschhoek on Sunday and, as she was having lunch nearby, got into her car and waylaid me on the road homewards to press upon me the fresh fruit.
(Reminds me of Monty Python's Self-Defence Against Fresh Fruit sketch: 'Fresh fruit not good enough for you, eh? Well let me tell you something lad! When you're walking home tonight and some great homicidal maniac comes after YOU with a bunch of loganberries, don't come cryin' to me!')
Can there be a more beautiful breed of berry? I was tempted to bake them into the filling of this cheesecake, and then thought of making a glowing red jelly to top the cake, but honestly I think they are so luscious on their own that all you need do is drape them on top of the cake, and pop them onto your tongue between mouthfuls of cheesecake.
Here is my mum's old recipe for Sour Cream Cheesecake. I used low-fat Woolies cream cheese in this recipe, but go ahead and use full-fat if that's what your heart desires. I have reduced the amount of sugar in this recipe from a cup to three-quarters of a cup; use the full amount if you have a sweet tooth.
The original recipe calls for a teaspoon of lemon juice and the finely grated zest of a lemon, but as the redcurrants are tart enough on their own, I've flavoured mine with vanilla and just a whisper of cinnamon.
Sour Cream Cheesecake with Fresh Redcurrants
For the biscuit base:
¾ packet (about 150 g) plain sweet biscuits (Marie biscuits, or digestives)
½ cup (125 ml/125 g) very soft butter
For the filling:
500 g (2 tubs) low-fat cream cheese
1 cup (250 ml) sour cream
3 large eggs
2 Tbsp (30 ml) cake flour
a pinch of salt
3/4 cup (190 ml) white sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
½ tsp (2.5 ml) cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Crush the biscuits to a coarse powder in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, or place them in a plastic bag and pulverise them with a rolling pin. Put the crumbs in a mixing bowl, add the soft butter and mix well. Press the mixture lightly into the base of a 22-cm, greased springform cake pan. Set aside.
Tip the cream cheese and sour cream into a mixing bowl and whisk in one of the eggs, to slacken the mixture. Now add the remaining eggs and continue whisking until you have smooth, lump-free mixture. Add the flour, salt, sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon and stir well to combine. Pour the mixture over the prepared crumb base. Tap the sides of the pan sharply with the back of a knife to pop any air bubbles.
Put the tin on a baking sheet and place in the middle of the oven. Bake at 160ºC for an hour to an hour and a quarter (this will depend on the efficiency of your oven. It is done when it is slightly risen, developing small cracks at the edges, lightly freckled with brown, and still wobbles reluctantly when you give it a shake). Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool completely in the oven.
Remove from the tin, place on a plate, and drape artistically with redcurrants.
Makes one 22-cm cake.