It’s Monday morning as I write this. I was promised sunshine and warm weather and yet, as I sit here in my Uniqlo padded jacket and thermal socks, it is grey outside and I feel depressed.
This is why I am writing about cake. Cake is a happy, safe word, with its promises of tea, friends, chat and warmth.
I made this at the weekend, for a birthday treat for a loved one. It’s a recipe I’ve had for many years (from Waitrose magazine). Most unprepossessing, and even a little bit gauche to look at maybe, but what drew me in was the introduction (I love an introduction in a recipe) which said, briefly but fulsomely:
“This is one of the best cakes in my repertoire, it has a very intense apricot flavour”
(I don’t know who wrote it so apologies.)
That confident appraisal, “one of the best cakes in my repertoire”? Well it rather throws down the cakey gauntlet, doesn’t it?
This is a magnificent cake. Not, of course, if you don’t like almonds or apricots. And each time I make it, it’s slightly different. One time it was so moist at to be barely sliceable – but still delicious – yesterday when I made it, it rose more than ever before, and didn’t sink in the middle (it usually does, a dip which acts as a useful pool for the yoghurty, creamy topping) and was definitely a spongey cake. Anyway, try it and see. It really does have a wonderful flavour, and on a depressing, grey, Monday when the weekend is all behind you still, that’s what you need.
You’ll need, for the cake:
115g unsalted butter, softened
325g caster sugar
50g marzipan, cut into little pieces
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
50ml amaretto, plus an extra as a sip as it’s delicious
165g plain flour
25g raising flour
a quarter of a teaspoon of salt
a quarter of a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
75g ground almonds
125ml sour cream
125g read to eat dried apricots, chopped
You’ll need, for the topping:
225g thick Greek yoghurt
4 tablespoons of whipped up double cream
125g soft set apricot jam
50g toasted almond flakes
a little icing sugar for dusting.
This is what you do:
Preheat the oven to 170C. I use this time to toast the flaked almonds for 5 minutes or so. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. I use a spring-form 23cm cake tin which I parchment line the bottom of.
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, either by hand or in a mixer. Then add the marzipan bits and blend well. Now add the eggs, beating well with each addition. Now add the vanilla and amaretto. MIx together the flours, salt and bicarb and the ground almonds. Now add these dry ingredients to the mixture, alternating with the sour cream. Finally, fold in the chopped apricots and bake in the oven for 1hour to 1 hour 20 minutes. A cake tester should come out clean, but the cake shouldn’t be too cooked, if you follow.
Let it cool completely, then run a knife around the edge and take out.
Now mix the topping ingredients together: the yoghurt and the sour cream first, then marble through the apricot jam. Spoon on top of the cake. Some times, if the cake hasn’t sunk much, then I feel like I’m left with too much topping. In such cases, it’s best not to put all the topping on, but reserve it for spooning it up when you slice up and serve the cake.
Sprinkle the flaked almonds on top, dust with icing sugar and slice and eat.
Store in the fridge when not being eaten.