Okay, so we’ve talked about my disdain for hot fruit, so why am I posting another recipe with fruit baked on top? Ahm, I guess because I serve it room temperature- ha! I’m such a weirdo. What can I say? It’s a darn delicious cake and even if it’s speckled with warm fruit, I will gladly take it, just at a reasonable room-temperature.
In all seriousness, this is one of my favorite afternoon tea cakes. It’s an incredibly simple yellow cake batter topped with luscious apricots and sweetened with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar for a bit of crunch. Placing the apricots cut-side down into the cake, all their flavor and juice melts into the crumb of the cake, which only gets more moist and tender as the days go by (though it never lasts that long). You probably already have all the ingredients for the cake in your cabinet, and all that’s left is to top it with halves of whatever gorgeous stone fruit is in the market. Incredibly simple and satisfying.
The original recipe is a plum torte by Marion Burrows, and is one of the most popular recipes that the New York Times has ever printed. My mom has made the recipe for years, and it is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea in the afternoon. The cake has just the right amount of sweetness without being cloying, so you can have a slice and still have room for dinner. I’m a big fan of using plums as the original recipe states, but since apricots are in season in the Bay Area, I decided to make the switch.
The sweet and tangy apricots enhance this already beautiful and delightfully simple yellow cake. If you don’t have apricots on hand, swap for peaches, nectarines, plums or any other stone fruit. I’ve even thought about cutting up the gorgeous melt-in-your-mouth mini strawberries from the farmers market (I’ve snacked on them all week), tossing with cinnamon sugar, and folding them into the batter for pockets of juicy sweetness. I should start baking a cake once a day to keep up with all these ideas…
Apricot Cake with Cinnamon Sugar (Modified slightly from Marian Burros Plum Torte recipe from the New York Times)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, room temperature
12 halves pitted apricots
1 Tbl. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 inch pan and line with parchment (you can alternatively use a spring form pan of 8, 9, or 10 inches). Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stop, scrape down the sides and then add flour, baking powder, salt, and eggs and beat until combined. Cut apricots in half and place cut-side down into the cake batter. In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the cake. (note: the original recipe includes lemon juice, but I didn’t think the apricots needed it) Bake for 40-50 minutes , until the cake turns golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake (avoid the apricots). Remove and let cool to room temperature. Cut a wedge and serve with a big mug of tea. Enjoy!