Red Currant and Poppy Seed Cakes, Arroz con Leche Cupcakes, Summer Galettes and a Week with the Chickenpox

Believe me, I am not exaggerating a bit when I tell you that last week was one of the longest weeks of my life. We were in the middle of some renovations at home and all the anxiety that brings, when my little boy came down with a pretty bad case of chickenpox. The poor thing was covered from head to toe with blisters and red spots and I have never seen him that uncomfortable in my life.

The fever and severe itching only lasted about three days, but we were confined at home for a whole week until all spots were covered with scabs and he was no longer contagious. We did not leave the house for a whole week. Yes, an entire week.

Although I know this is a fairly common childhood illness and there was no need to be alarmed, to see my little one suffer so much and be so sleep deprived from constant itching breaks my heart. The first few days, I just kept giving him oatmeal baths and tried to keep him cool and comfortable. However, that soon passed and then came boredom.

He wanted to go outside and play with friends and didn’t understand why he couldn’t. He became fascinated with the idea that he had the chickenpox. “The chickenpox? I have the chickenpox?”, he would say. So what do we do in our family when we run out of puzzles, books, games and movies (and we watched a lot of them!)? We bake.

The first day, he helped me make arroz con leche, which is our go to comfort dessert. We make it when we are happy, when we just want to watch a movie and snuggle or when we are sick. From that came the idea of reserving some of the milk and using that to make cupcakes, which everyone loved.

We used the arroz con leche cooking milk to flavor the cupcakes and the custard we used as a filling. We even soaked the cupcakes with some of the milk while they were still hot. Very, very moist. And we topped them with a meringue icing.

The following day we made galettes with nectarines, red currant and gooseberries and some leftover sugar dough I had in the freezer. We also made buttermilk, poppy seed and red currant mini pound cakes and even baked some of the batter in individual glass jars for something fun and different.

I have to say that the uncomfortable and painful stage of the chickenpox is gone, but the poor thing is still covered in spots and scabs. We did leave the house this past weekend for the first time and I have to admit, grocery shopping has never been so exciting in my life.

Red Currant and Poppy Seed Cakes

Makes 3 small loaves or 1 large one

170 grams butter, room temperature
250 grams sugar
1 tsp vanila extract
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
180 grams buttermilk
180 grams flour
4 grams baking powder
3 grams salt
7 grams poppy seeds
100 grams fresh red currants

Cream the butter and sugar together until light. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Add the eggs one at a time and scrape to incorporate well.

Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix. Add the buttermilk and mix. Add the poppy seeds and fold in the red currants.

Pour the batter into pans and bake at 350F for about 25-30 minutes.

Nectarine, Red Currant and Gooseberry Galettes

Makes about 3 galettes

2 nectarines, peeled and sliced
25 grams red currants
25 grams gooseberries
15 grams flour
10 grams vanilla sugar
pinch salt

Toss the filling ingredients together.

Roll sugar dough to about 1/8″ thickness. Cut circles that are about 10″ in diameter. Place the filling in the middle and fold edges over. Brush edges with egg wash and sprinkle some sugar.

Bake at 400F for about 20-25 minutes until bottom golden brown.

Arroz con Leche Cupcakes

Makes a dozen cupcakes

110 grams butter, room temperature
200 grams sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
125 grams arroz con leche cooking milk
175 grams flour
7 grams baking powder

Cream together the butter and sugar until light. Add lemon zest. Add eggs one at a time and scrape the bowl well.

Add the flour and baking powder and mix. Add the arroz con leche cooking milk and mix until combined.

Divide the cupcake batter into the cupcake papers and bake at 350F for about 25 minutes.

Arroz con Leche Custard

250 grams arroz con leche cooking milk
1 cinnamon stick
Zest of a lemon
3 egg yolks
40 grams sugar
25 grams cornstarch
75 grams butter, cold and cut into small pieces

We are going to make a pastry cream with all the ingredients. Place the arroz con leche cooking milk, cinnamon, lemon zest and half of the sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a light boil.

Whisk together the egg yolks, half of the sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. When the milk mixture comes to a light boil, temper it into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk to incorporate and then return this to the saucepan. Cook while constantly whisking until the custard thickens.

Remove the cinnamon stick and transfer the custard to a clean bowl. Whisk to slightly cool the custard down and start adding the cold butter while whisking. This will cool it down and make it shiny and creamier.

Place plastic wrap directly on top of the custard to prevent a skin from forming and chill.

Swiss Meringue

200 grams egg whites
400 grams sugar

Mix the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the bowl over a water bath and whisk until sugar starts to dissolve, the mixture turns very white and fluffy and feels very hot to the touch.

Place the bowl in the mixer and whip the meringue until thick and the bowl feels cool.

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78 Responses to “Red Currant and Poppy Seed Cakes, Arroz con Leche Cupcakes, Summer Galettes and a Week with the Chickenpox”

  1. Y says:

    Oh the poor thing! I’m glad he’s on the mend. I still haven’t gotten chicken pox yet would you believe? Yikes!

  2. Is it possible he is even cuter with those tiny red spots?!

    Well, I’m sorry to hear your heart was aching, but on the brighter side…any excuse to bake with a loved one can’t be all bad.

    Lovely phots, as always.

  3. Aran,
    Ohh! I really hope your boy is feeling much better now! But he still looks so adorable though he still has the spots :)Have you got it before or done anything so wouldn’t get it?? Cos I hear when elders get it…it’s really bad!

    And all the baked goods leave me drooling here!I loved the cute cupcakes! And all the pics are beautiful…as always! :D


  4. julia says:

    Poor thing! Thank goodness the worst is over…and that so many yummy things came from the week trapped indoors.

  5. Tartelette says:

    So glad to hear Jon is finally almost over with it. Yeah!
    I hear you on the rice pudding. Been eating a lot of it for dinner this week to comfort my back! It’s the next best thing from having mom giving massages!

  6. morgana says:

    Ay, pobre, con lo mal que se pasa con la varicela en verano… A mí me tocó pasarla de mayor y, a pesar de ser febrero y de ser to friolera a más no poder, estaba todo el rato con la piel al aire y abanicándome para soportar la tentación de no rascarme como una posesa. No me quiero imaginar lo que hubiera sido si la llego a pasar en verano.

    Espero que no le quede ninguna marquita y que las costrillas se le caigan pronto. Hay quien recomienda la vaselina de farmacia para que se caigan sin dejar ni huella.

    Muchísimas gracias por todas estas recetas, sobre todo (en mi caso) por la de las magdalenas de arroz con leche, es algo que llevo persiguiendo mucho tiempo y que sólo había podido lograr utilizando turrón de arroz con leche pero es un producto tan estacional… En cuanto pueda, pruebo tu receta, que seguro que está deliciosa.

    Un abrazo y mucho besitos para el peque, espero que esté recuperado ya del todo.

  7. Anonymous says:


    Nice water-mouthing cake!
    Just to make sure – is it really only 7 gr of poppy seeds?

  8. Everything looks so scrumptious! As usual, your pictures are amzing!



  9. So sorry to hear about your poor little boy. Chickenpox is horrible. But best he has it now. I didn’t get it until I was 18. Apparently it’s worse when you’re older. Worst two weeks of my life! At least you managed to do some lovely baking with him to distract him and pass the time. It all looks so lovely – the food, the photographs – as always.

  10. I am truly sorry for your poor boy but my chicken pox was not gladdened by such a great amount of cakes. If I’ll get the pox again will you send me some of those delights?

  11. Dajda says:

    I wish I received such delicious medication when I was going through chickenpox! But my mother had three ill children at once, I don’t think she had much time left for baking, even if she’d engaged us all in the preparations.

  12. Clare says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog and I can’t get over how beautiful your photos are! I could look at them for hours… I will definitely be back

  13. Aran says:

    Y- Be careful then because I hear it can be pretty bad as an adult!

    Ria- I had it as a child so I should be immune for life. Let’s hope! The incubation period goes between 10-21 days so I suppose we will see soon, but I really hope not!

    Morgana- Ay con lo mal que se debe de pasar si se tiene de mayor… Pobrecita!

    Anonymous- yes, it should be. the entire recipe is fairly small and poppy seeds are not very heavy, so 7 grams should be right. but let me double check.

    Dadja- oh no! i can’t imagine! my hat off to your mother!

    Thanks guys!

  14. shaz says:

    Glad your little man is on the mend! (I got chicken pox at 16 – it wasn’t too bad, but imagine being sweet 16 with the chicken!)

    All the goodies look so delectable!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Pobrecito… pero ya esta casi pasada, y mejor pasarla de pequeño.
    Beso. Carmen

  16. I’m a huge fan of red currants! These all look really great!

  17. Poor little sweetie pie:(

    He is lucky to have such treats to make him feel better.
    We worry so when our children are not well.
    It is better when it is us:)

  18. icicle says:

    Oh dear. Sorry for your little one!
    My daughter just turned 3 and received a doctor’s bag for her birthday. So far she has diagnosed everyone she meets with chickenpox then tells them they need to eat a cookie — I think she has has your remedies in mind!

  19. ChichaJo says:

    So sorry to hear about your little one’s chicken pox! :( But he’s still lucky as I’m sure not many kids get this wonderful array of goodies when they are home sick! :) As a big fan of arroz con leche I am locing the sound of those cupcakes!

  20. veron says:

    Poor little one. Hope he feels better and I’m sure he will with such treats before him.

  21. Jamie says:

    Ooof! Why is it that so many bad or difficult things happen at once? Hope he is better by now. And these treats look fabulous – and I now know what I’d like to do with those poppy seeds I have.

  22. aw, no fun at all. Did he have them on the bottoms of his feet? (that’s what I remember most, completely tainted Christmas 2001…) On the other hand, you got some fabulous treats out of it! Beautiful as always :)

  23. amberlee says:

    so sorry to hear about your little one. really, who could have warned us what it would be like to be a parent with a sick child.

    my dad used to sing “arroz con leche” to me as a child. it will be special to make this for my kiddos.

    thanks for the incredible inspiration, as always.

  24. linda says:

    Poor boy! From your story I understand that my boy was lucky when he got them.
    At least you got to bake at lot ;)
    And could it be coincidence that you made arroz de leche just this week? You made it last year too for Got Milk? and as it happens I’ve organised the same event as last year :)

  25. montague says:

    oh! i remember when I had chickenpox… RIGHT over the winter holidays. i was so upset!

  26. cindy* says:

    what a week for you and jon all cooped up! i’m glad he’s on the recovering end, poor little guy! but, everything the two of you cooked up looks amazing…

  27. Aran says:

    Minisuperbias- oh no, not on the bottom of his feet. Thank god! That would have been awful. He had them everywhere else though!

    Amberlee- you are right. I would have never shined the anxiety that a sick child brings, especially when they are small.

    Linda- you are right! I’m glad you are hosting it again this year!


  28. fresh365 says:

    Oh the poor thing! Although I have no doubt your baking could lift anyone’s spirits!

  29. Aw the poor thing.Am so glad the worst is over Aran. My boy got chickenpox last year & diagnosed it himself. I was stupid coz it never struck me! Keeping them indoors is so tough!

  30. the cupcake sound really awesome! i remembered when i had chicken pox when i was young, i was pretty happy about it cos i did not have to go to school. I gathered from photos that i was vain even since young cos i took lotsa photos even when i was all covered in spots. tee hee

  31. Owwww how cute and how sad he looks in that picture…
    Hey, Jon, we all know that you are a very special and corajous boy, huh?
    Hope you feeling better now and ready to cook with your mom and play around with your friends!

    best wishes,

  32. wow. that all looks so darn delish.

  33. Seanna Lea says:

    Poor little boy. I’m glad that he is on the mend!

  34. Maybe says:

    Poor thing, it’s so hard for a child to have to stay at home for an entiere week ! Anyway, these desserts look absolutely delicious, I love the ones in the little “bocaux” (I don’t know how to say that in english !!) !

  35. Oh, I love your idea to use the milk from arroz con leche!! I can almost taste it now. And that galette is so gorgeous I could cry!

    I hope your precious boy is completely healed by now. I remember when we were very young my little brother had chicken pox and the agony he went through was just awful. There’s nothing like all these lovely pastries to soothe the soul.

  36. Thip says:

    It’s better to have chicken pox when we are kids, the scars go away easily.
    I had it a bit late, but the same time with my sisters and brother. I got some scars on my face because they were so itchy and I can’t resist to pick them up sometimes. My brother had a very bad experience with it. I can’t imagine dealing with 6 kids who had chicken pox at the same time.
    I hope your boy feels better soon.

  37. K.Line says:

    Poor baby! But that custard looks like it would totally improve his state of mind…

  38. Jennifer says:

    Oh no! Your poor boy!!! I was young enough when I got them that I dont remember, thank goodness!

    Gorgeous pictures as always! The currant cake sounds sooo good!

  39. poor LB (Little Boy) but at least he wont get the worse one that adults get. i have 5 siblings. we all got it one week after the other. sooooooooooo much oatmeal! wow 4 recipes at the same time?! yeaaaaaaaaash. you’re a beast! and im jealous. :P

  40. Eralda LT says:

    Sorry about the chicken pox. Poor little guy. He looks so cute though. I hope he feels better soon!

  41. natalia says:

    Ciao ! I’m sorry for you kid ! I still remember my chicken pox after 35 years !! But I’m sure you well employied your time !!

  42. It pains me to hear that your little one had to suffer so. Though it sounds like you were able to share some precious moments together anyway. Amazing the therapeutic powers of a little bit of sugar and flour.

  43. I hope your little one is feeling better though – nothing like a range of sweets to take the boredom out of being sick, right? That crostata looks wonderful, as do the little poppyseed cakes. Just have to find red currants now :)

  44. It’s been a great therapy during this uncomfortable time, poor thing!

  45. Mélanie says:

    Poor thing… You must be all very happy that he is better now. And it’s a pretty good thing that it’s done now, he’s immune to this disease! You found lots of activity with him, and i’m sure he was a lot less bored when he saw all these beautiful desserts…

  46. so sorry for the little guy…hope he’s feeling better now…i love how you treated him to your wonderful treats—are the addition of poppy seeds and red currants a little inspiration from the all the spots before your eyes? i love it…

  47. Chickenpox can be really irritating both on the body and on the mind! No wonder he got bored. I hope he is making up playing extra hours:)

  48. kattyface says:

    this sounds like the best case of the chickenpox EVER!

    i’m pretty sure my parents didn’t load me with sweets, and all i have to remember the chickenpox is a divet in my forehead where i scratched too deep :/

  49. Phoo-D says:

    Oh poor dear! He looks so sweet in the photo and you are a trooper to stay home for a week. I think I would feel seriously stir crazy after that amount of time at home!

  50. El says:

    Oh your poor little boy. He’s adorable. He’s lucky to have such a fun mother who will bake with him when he’s sick. The desserts look wonderful.

  51. €llY says:

    I’m sorry for your son, I hope he feels better now.
    Your cupcake looks very delicious!

    Have a lovely day!

  52. Tara says:

    Your poor little one!!!! hope he is feeling better, but what better thing to do besides bake!?!?! i’m really into caribbean cuisine and we don’t bake loads, but i love it just the same! i also love your pics and your layout, well done. :o) Tara

  53. simplesong says:

    oh no! hope its getting better for you. can’t imagine such a tough week.

    you’re still so amazing to create such amazing goodies.

  54. paula says:

    chicken pox, poor boy and poor you. It’s never easy to have a sick little one.

    The images are gorgeous… now if I could just have a bite.

  55. Barbara says:

    Sorry about the chicken pox, but by now it’s nearly over and I loved reading your comfort food recipes!

  56. Alicia says:

    The poor little thing. I hope hes feeling well & the stir craziness has gone bye bye quicker than all the scabs.
    You must have also gone a bit crazy too. I did, but baking was not in my plan. Your divine recipes & photos definitely now put me in the mood. I will wait until our daily highs are under 100 though. Hot ovens do not go well with August in Arizona.
    Enjoy your regained freedom!!!

  57. Melvin says:

    Your pictures are amazing…
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  58. Harmony says:

    Such beautiful photos. Glad I saw you!

  59. Ted Johns says:

    Thanks a lot! I’m also a gourmet and pastry enthusiast and this would really go to my compilation. I would also like to share. I came across a good site about European and Swiss cooking which also gives free sample family-secret recipes.

  60. Meghan says:

    Aw that does sound like a very long week, but I’m glad you were able to make the best of the situation. Hope your little one is all better now!
    I can’t wait to try out the Arroz con Leche Custard recipe.. looks scrumptious! You should create a poll for your readers. I find them helpful and also fun for voting! :)

  61. Nicisme says:

    Awww, poor chap, chicken pox is horrid.

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  63. Karin says:

    Me encantaron los cupcakes de arroz con leche, intentaré hacerlos pronto!. El merenge encima se ve delicioso…pero te quería preguntar, no sería más seguro hacer el merengue con claras de huevo en polvo?, digo, por el riesgo de salmonella…
    Qué opinas tú?

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  65. Wow. It looks amazing and yummy. Good recipe. Looks delicious. I am surely gonna try it. Poppy seed is rich in B-complex. It is also very useful for health, for those who have sensitive skin, dandruff, hair-loss, it aids in mental alertness. Those who suffer from vertigo feels relief, it relieves skin dryness etc.

  66. hope he feels better!!! these photos are gorgeous, as always xo

  67. So happy to see those brilliant red currants! I made scones with fresh ones and found the results to be so lovely. Your quick bread sounds and looks delicious!

  68. Valentina says:

    Chickenpox is so terrible. I had it already a teenager so it is hundred times worse than when you are a child. Just this morning i was looking at a bunch of redcurrants. I have been inspired to make the seems absolutely yum.

  69. Elizabeth says:

    I love gooseberries! Those cupcakes look terrific and your photographs are so vivid! I am very impressed with your blog and will defiantly be visiting again!

  70. Desiree says:

    Hi Aran! I just discovered your blog a couple months ago – its beautiful! I’m pretty new to baking, but can’t help but try out some of your recipes. I recently made the currant and poppyseed cake and it was so delicious, my friends and I didn’t want to stop eating it. I have just one question: how do you prevent the currants from falling to the bottom when your pour the batter and bake it? Thanks!

  71. Desiree- you could coat the currants with a little flour so they don’t sink to the bottom. Thank you!

  72. marion says:

    I baked the redcurrant and poppy seed cake yesterday and it’s so yummy !!!!
    The heavenly cake, moist and light at the same time, perfectly sweet … Fantastic !
    Thanks for sharing !

  73. Mari says:

    What size are your small loaf pans? 10 cm?

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