My husband is 6’3″ and weighs 170 pounds. So let’s just say he is quite thin. His idea of watching his weight is to eat 2 desserts instead of three in the course of a day. I’d hate him, except for the fact that I love him so much. On the other hand, I never feel guilty for baking because I know that I’m not leading him astray. His weight, blood pressure and cholesterol are all textbook wonderful.
He truly enjoys having a piece of cake or some cookies with his morning coffee and after dinner. We are just about finished with my most recent cake so I was looking for something to make that didn’t require me going to the store. I looked through my well-worn copy of Beard on Bread for inspiration and came across his Apricot Bread. However, when I read the recipe it just seemed lacking somehow to me and so I made a few tweaks. This lovely coffee (or tea) cake is easy to make and stores well. In fact, the flavors improve and intensify each day, so if you want it at its peak for serving to guests, I would recommend making it a couple of days ahead. It is not uber-rich or sweet and you will notice that the only fat comes from the 2 eggs and the almonds. My husband likes it best slathered with butter and toasted under the broiler! I enjoy it straight.
Yield: 1 bundt cake – 10 to 12 servings
1 cup boiling water
1.5 cups of dried apricots
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Zest of one orange
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2.75 cups of all-purpose, unbleached flour OR 2.5 cups of flour and 1/4 cup of stone ground corn meal
3 teaspoons (1 Tablespoon) double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds (I used mostly blanched almonds but threw in a few raw almonds since I didn’t have quite enough)
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
- Heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Pour the boiling water over the apricots and allow them to stand until just tender. Since my dried apricots were very moist already, I only let them stand for 10 minutes. Drain off the water, reserving it. If the reserved isn’t quite a cup, add enough cold tap water to make one cup.
- Roughly chop the apricots. Toss the apricots with 1/4 cup of flour and set aside.
- Pour the liquid into a large mixing bowl and add the baking soda, salt, sugar and eggs and mix well. Then add the orange zest, vanilla and almond extract and mix through.
- Add the apricots, remaining flour, baking powder and nuts and mix until everything is well mixed.
- Butter and flour (or use the baking spray which has flour in it and works amazingly well) a large 10 cup bundt pan, preferably non-stick. Pour the batter, which is fairly thick, into the pan and even it out. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the cake is a lovely golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a rack and then turn out the cake to continue cooling completely. Dust with powdered sugar if desired. Wrap tightly or store in a covered cake plate.