Apricot almond cake w/ apricot-cassis cream

Apricot almond cake

I love the idea of a cake with apricot glaze – I always have. It’s strangely associated with some childhood notion of sophistication in edible form. Strange, because I can’t remember the actual moment that I ate an elegant cake with an apricot glaze. I can remember plenty of battenburg cakes, wrapped in plastic like the block of modeling clay that they resembled. They had a layer of apricot glaze under their oddly chewy marzipan layer. I loved them! But I’m sure I never thought of them as elegant. The truth is, whether sophisticated or not, a layer of apricot makes sense in a cake! It adds a pleasant fruity tartness that offsets the sweetness of whatever else happens to be in the cake. This cake happens to have almonds – a classic match with apricots – and bittersweet chocolate, which adds its own version of bitter-with-sweet, to complement the apricots.

Inexplicably, I became semi-obsessed with making apricot-cassis cream. I thought about a million different things to make, but I kept returning to this. So I turned to my new BFF, the pastry cream, and I added a purée made of apricots and cassis, and then folded in a little lightly whipped cream. I thought it was very nice with the cake – I don’t think I’ve ever had pastry cream or any of its subsidiaries alongside a cake before, but I thought it was a lovely combination of textures. You could easily eat the apricot cream on its own as a mousse, with some crispy cookies!

I just can’t not share this! It’s a song called Apricot, by the Armenian Navy Band, and it has my Malcolm dancing around the room in his pjs.

THE CAKE

1 stick butter (1/2 cup) softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
3 T apricot preserves
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sliced almonds – ground very fine
1 t bp
1/2 t bs
1/2 t salt

2 T apricot preserves, for glaze
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375.

Cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla and jam till everything is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.

Add all of the dry ingredients and mix well.

Butter & flour a 9 inch cake tin. (I’ve been adding a square of folded tin foil, about 6 inches across, which I butter onto the bottom of the pan. Then I butter the top of it and flour it. It keeps the cake from sticking – just remember to take it off at the end!) Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and cook for about 30 minutes, till it’s brown on top, pulling away from the sides, and springs back when you touch it lightly.

Let it cool a bit and then turn it out onto a plate.

Warm the apricot jam in a small saucepan. Pour it over the cake, coaxing it towards the sides so it drips down. let cool and set a bit, and then…

Warm the chocolate chips over another pan of hot water. (Don’t let any water get into the chocolate or it will seize up!) Pour this over the cake and try to coax it to drip down the sides a bit. Let cool and set.

THE CREAM

1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 & 1/3 cups sugar
2 t vanilla
2 eggs
2 T flour
pinch salt

1 cup apricots
1/3 cup cassis
1 T apricot preserves

1/2 cup heavy cream

Combine the apricots and cassis in a small saucepan. Warm them for a minute, and then let them sit and soak.

Warm the milk, 1/3 cup of the sugar and the vanilla over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan. Combine the eggs, flour, salt and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a bowl, and whisk till light and frothy. Once the milk has tiny bubbles all around the rim, pour half of it in a thin stream into the eggs, whisking furiously the whole time. Then return everything to the pan, still whisking furiously. Keep cooking and whisking 5 – 10 minutes, till it gets nice and thick. You know it’s done when you tilt the pan and the mixture comes away cleanly from the bottom in patches.

Take it off the heat and pour it into a bowl.

Puree the apricots, preserves and cassis until they’re quite smooth. (I added a few tablespoons of milk to help achieve this)

Fold the apricot mixture into the cream, and put the whole thing in the fridge to chill.

Once it’s chilled, fold in 1/2 cup heavy cream whipped until softly stiff, if that makes sense. Serve with the cake, or eat on its own as a mousse!

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One thought on “Apricot almond cake w/ apricot-cassis cream

  1. Pingback: Pastry cream ice cream | Out of the Ordinary

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