“Coming to us from Marcy Goldman’s 2007 book, A Passion for Baking, these bars are stuffed full of dried apricots that have been simmered with sugar and citrus juices, and then pureed. The fruit is spread over a layer of partially-baked dough, then another of layer of the same dough – which is first frozen and then shredded with a grater – is sprinkled atop that. Baked until glowing and lightly golden, the whole thing is crowned, once cooled, with a perky dusting of confectioners’ sugar. And there you have it, Big & Bright Apricot Bars.”
After reading up this really convincing intro on Jane’s Sweets and Baking Journal, I felt this recipe was the one I’d want to invest my last batch of dried apricots into. Jane does not exaggerated about the softness of this dough; even without the cream and double eggs, it was quite sticky to work with so it’s a good idea to keep that extra cup of flour on hand for regular dusting of your work counter. The other minor change I made was to stir in a couple of tablespoons of golden syrup into the apricot filling to offset the tartness of the dried fruit and soothe my sweet tooth.
For the Dough
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kitchen salt
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
For the Apricot Filling
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 cups dried apricots
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- For the dough, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nuts in the bowl of a food processor.
- Add in the butter and shortening, and pulse it to form a mealy mixture. Add in the eggs and vanilla.
- Gradually add cream to form a soft dough. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.
- Knead to form a firm but soft dough. Divide equally into two pieces and wrap separately in plastic.
- Refrigerate one half of the dough for one hour, put the other half in the freezer. Make apricot filling.
- Place filling ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan and simmer over low heat till apricots soften.
- Cook for about 8 to 12 minutes. Let it cool for about 15 minutes and then puree in a food processor.
- Chill the puree. Preheat oven to 350F. Liberally coat a 11″ x 7″ pan or 9″ x 9″ pan with baking spray.
- Pat out the refrigerated half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan, as evenly as you can.
- Bake this for 10 to 12 minutes and let it cool well, then smoothly spread out all of the apricot puree.
- Using a box grater, coarsely shred frozen half of the dough directly onto the layer of apricot puree.
- Take care to evenly cover the entire surface. Place the pan on the parchment-covered baking sheet.
- Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the top crust is lightly golden brown. Cool it completely in the pan.
- Remove from pan and dust bars with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into 3-inch squares. Makes 16 bars.
Big & Bright Apricot Bars