Friday, June 7, 2013

Apricot Almond Upside Down Cake

So now we’ve come around once again to my favorite part of the fresh fruit season.  Apricots and cherries have arrived and there’s the scent of peaches sure to follow.  And sometime soon we may be able to enjoy the heavenly vision of figs!  We are in the zone.

Apricots are looking very good right now.  My first purchase was for the pure pleasure of eating them plain and simple.  Wow, are they deliciously tart and sweet.  My second batch made it into this very simple upside down cake.  And, of course, there will be a third and a fourth batch, etc., etc.

Rather than the usual brown sugar and butter coating (which, by the way, is very delicious), I decided to float the apricot halves with their best buddies, honey scented with vanilla and cinnamon.  The cake is also enhanced with toasted almonds to give it only a very slight hint of texture and the flavor that goes so well with so many of the stone fruits of the season.  This would be a good dessert with a dollop of almond flavored whipped cream or served simply as a brunch cake on a sleepy weekend morning.

Apricots are notorious for keeping their beautiful visit short and sweet.  Get yourselves to the market and behold the best that nature has to offer!

Bench notes:
- I like to use sliced almonds rather than whole ones for this kind of cake because they grind with the flour to a finer crumb.
- Toast the sliced almonds in a single layer in a 350 degree oven for about 6 - 8 minutes. Watch them closely as they will burn very, very quickly.
- I use 3 tablespoons of honey for the topping as the cake bakes.  After the cake is baked and has been turned out of the pan, I use another 2 tablespoons of honey to glaze the top of the cake.  If I used all 5 tablespoons for the bottom of the pan, the cake would be pretty soggy.  Apricots become even more tart once baked so the cake does need the extra 2 tablespoons of honey glaze.
- Lining the bottom of the cake pan with parchment helps ensure your cake will turn out with the topping in tact.

Apricot Almond Upside Down Cake
Serves 8

3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) honey
1/2 oz (1 tablespoon) butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 – 8 apricots
2 – 3 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

1 cup (5 oz) flour
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) toasted sliced almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 oz (8 tablespoons) butter @ room temperature
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
2 large eggs @ room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk @ room temperature

2 tablespoons (1 oz) honey, for glazing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9” x 2 1/2” cake pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment.

For the cake topping, place the 3 tablespoons of honey, butter and cinnamon in a saucepan and heat until melted, whisking to combine.  Take off the heat and add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Pour into the bottom of the cake pan, then lift the pan and swirl to distribute evenly.

Slice the apricots in half and place cut side down on top of the honey butter mixture.  Fill in the gaps with a sprinkle of toasted sliced almonds.

For the cake batter, place the flour, 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until the almonds are finely ground.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add vanilla and almond extracts and blend.  Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl and mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Add a third of the flour mixture alternately with half the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Spread the batter evenly over apricots.

Bake until a toothpick tests clean, about 42 – 45 minutes.  Place on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.  Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert the cake carefully and remove the parchment. 

Warm 2 tablespoons honey and brush on the surface of the cake to glaze and sweeten.  Cool completely.


Victoria said...

Oh, no. Apricots again.

But instead of complaining, I must say that I think even the sad apricots I get in NY would take kindly to this preparation. I have found that once cooked, mealy apricots often turn into delicious treats.

Your apricot compotes are amazing, and I imagine this apricot dessert is too.

pastry studio said...

Hello, Victoria! I really wish I could share my delicious apricots with you!

Hope life is treating you well and you are enjoying this gorgeous season.

Chris said...

Hi Gayle, I've been way too busy for the pleasures of reading blogs in general and today, as the remains of Hurricane Andrea drench the region, I'm not in the garden, not selling pottery at the Farmers Market, and, shhh, don't tell, not in the studio. I can just about smell the cake in the oven, and my mouth is watering to taste those apricots, which like Victoria's location, hardly ever arrive here in anything less than mealy condition.
Blessings to you.

pastry studio said...

Hi, Chris!! So great to hear from you and so glad to know you're selling your work. These apricots are really beautiful. Wish I could serve you a piece of this cake. Very best to you, dear friend.

Unknown said...

I am making this tonight for a lovely Sunday dinner dessert! I love apricots and honey and almond so this recipe is the best combination. I love the addition of almond extract. Thanks so much for the idea and the recipe. I am using honeycots that I found at my local Whole Foods.

pastry studio said...

Mimi Wan, wonderful! I hope it brings great pleasure to your table.


Bryan said...

Honey drew me to this initially.
The first week of Blens aren't super tasty to eat as-is, but perfect baked into this cake.
Lavender honey + cardamom, because I can't help myself.

pastry studio said...

Hahaha! Bryan, you always bring a note of creativity here. I love lavender honey and can certainly imagine it enhancing this cake beautifully. Thanks so much for your unique perspective on baking and your fearless ability to shake things up. You can't help yourself!

Elly McCausland said...

Gorgeous colours and it looks so sweet and sticky and inviting! Apricots are one of my favourite things to bake with, I love how it concentrates the flavour. Fabulous recipe!

pastry studio said...

Greetings, Elly! Yes, apricots do a sort of amazing flavor explosion when they're baked. Soooooo delicious! I'm just sorry that their season is so short. I seem to be eating them every day just to be sure I get my fill.

Sophie James said...

This looks absolutely beautiful. I'm wondering if I could use plums instead...? I think the almond element would work well, though the skins could be a little tougher, What do you think? Sophie

pastry studio said...

Sophie, I don't see any reason why you couldn't use plums, which I think is a great idea. You probably don't need as many since they're a little larger than apricots but I say go for it.

saturday mike said...

Made this last night with what I think are the last of the apricots this season. It was REALLY good. Eight people devoured it in about 5 minutes. I served it with whipped cream spiked with apricot brandy.
Simple to make, looked great... I just wish I had a piece for breakfast.. hahaha.

pastry studio said...

Hellooooooo, saturday mike! This year we were really treated to a much longer apricot season. Glad you got to try this. The addition of your whipped cream sounds like heaven. As always, thanks so much for your wonderful feedback. Cheers!

saturday mike said...

I'm not sure where you are, though I think maybe you're on the West Coast?? I'm in Chicago, and this Summer, the stone fruit has been AMAZING. I've had some of the best peaches, apricots and nectarines I've had in years!

pastry studio said...

Me, too! I'm in San Francisco. The apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines and now figs are just blowing my mind. This has definitely been a banner year. Sooooooo grateful!

I've always wanted to visit Chicago and for some reason have not made it there yet. Sounds like a gorgeous, fun city full of good food.