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Though I have made [and loved] the classic pineapple upside down cake on more than one occasion, it never really occurred to me that I could actually use any other fruit… until I chanced upon this lovely apricot cake recipe on SusanEatsLondon.com. This delicate stone fruit simultaneously reminds me of a velvety peach and a tangy plum and works well in situations where it gets caramelized. Apricot jam is probably the best example of this wonderful pairing so you can almost imagine this as eating chunky apricot jam on a layer of rich butter cake. Serve it with a cloud of fresh cream and toasted almonds and you will find yourself slowly ascending towards dessert heaven.

APRICOT UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Cake

10-12 ripe apricots, halved

125g unsalted butter

3 eggs, separated

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Zest of 1/2 lemon

130g all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons yogurt

For the Caramel Topping

100g unsalted butter

75g caster sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180oC. Generously butter a deep cake pan and line its base with apricots, cut side down.

  • Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl and set this mixture aside.

  • In another bowl, beat the butter with the brown sugar and vanilla until fluffy, and then beat in egg yolks.

  • In a third bowl, using clean beaters, beat egg whites until they are foamy. Gradually add the white sugar.

  • Continue beating until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. For the caramel use a heavy, non-stick skillet.

  • Melt the butter, sugar, and lemon juice over medium-low heat till it starts bubbling. Add vanilla extract.

  • Continue to simmer, stirring gently with a wooden spoon, till caramel has thickened and turned golden.

  • Pour caramel over apricots. Now, fold the dry ingredients of the cake into the butter/sugar/egg mixture.

  • Stir in yogurt. Mix in about a third of the egg whites to lighten batter, and then carefully fold in the rest.

  • Try not to over-mix. Spread this over the caramel covered apricots, and bake it for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

  • Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the cake comes out clean or the center of the cake feels springy.

  • Cool in the pan for three to five minutes, then cover with a serving plate and flip. Makes 10-12 servings.

Apricot Caramel Upside-Down Cake

Make this fabulous crêpe cake for a show stopping dessert by stacking layers of homemade crêpes, fluffy whipped mascarpone and a good dose of Bonne Maman apricot preserves [or your favorite jam] and topping the lot with roughly chopped pistachios. The recipe from Honest Cooking makes about 15 thin crêpes so you will end up with a fairly tall tower so I recommend freezing the cake after every 3-4 layers to make assembly easy, or rather, less messy. If you do not want the hassle of making a crêpe cake, you can always serve the crêpes rolled up with the mascarpone and apricot filling or with a assortment of gourmet jams on the side for your guests to have their pick.

MASCARPONE APRICOT CREPES

Ingredients:

For the Crêpe Batter

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup full cream milk

3/4 cup cold water

3 large eggs, room temperature

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Mascarpone Filling

2 cups mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

13oz Jar of apricot preserves

1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped

Method:

  • For the crêpes, combine all ingredients in a blender. Process until combined. Do not over mix.
  • Rest the crêpe batter for at least 1 hour at room temperature or for up to 24 hours in the fridge.

  • For the filling, whisk chilled cream over high speed for about 1 1/2 minutes until soft peaks form.
  • Add mascarpone, sugar and salt to bowl. Whip for about 1-2 minutes over medium-high speed.

  • Fold the whipped cream into mascarpone mixture. Cover and refrigerate until it is ready to use.
  • For apricot topping, add 1/2 cup preserves to a small sauce pan with salt and 1 teaspoon of water.

  • Bring to a simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Add additional water, as needed, if it becomes too thick.
  • Lightly grease a 10-inch nonstick crêpe pan with butter and pour 1/4 cup crêpe batter into the pan.

  • Rotate pan in a circular motion to coat the bottom evenly. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on one side.
  • The top should be dry and bottom side is lightly brown. Flip it and cook for about 30-60 seconds.

  • Repeat with remaining batter. To serve, spread about 1 tablespoon of apricot preserves on crêpe.
  • Top with about 3 tablespoons of the mascarpone filling. Spread evenly, do not blend the layers.

  • Continue to stack crêpes with alternating layers of apricot and mascarpone, ending with crepê.
  • Drizzle with apricot topping and scatter chopped pistachios on top of cake. Serve immediately.

Mascarpone and Apricot Crêpes

“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.

APRICOT BARS

Ingredients:

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

Method:

  • 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

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