Apricot Almond Cake

A perfect combination of making a cake: simple, beautiful, fragrant and beguiling. An exotic touch thanks to the addition of rosewater and invitingly easy to make.

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE

  • 150 grams ready to eat dried apricots
  • 250 millilitres cold water
  • 2 cardamom pods (cracked)
  • 200 grams ground almonds
  • 50 grams fine polenta (not instant)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • 150 grams caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • nonstick spray (or sunflower oil for greasing)

TO DECORATE

  • 2 teaspoons apricot jam (or rose petal jam)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2½ teaspoons very finely chopped pistachios

Directions

You will need: 1 x 20cm/8-inch round springform cake tin

  1. Put the dried apricots into a small saucepan, cover them with the cold water, and drop in the cracked cardamom pods with their fragrant seeds. Put on the heat, then bring to the boil and let it bubble for 10 minutes – the pan should be just about out of water but not actually run dry as the apricots will absorb more water as they cool.
  2. Take the pan off the heat, and let the apricots cool. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease the sides of your springform cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
  3. Remove 5 of the dried apricots and tear each in half, then set aside for the time being. Discard the cardamom husks, leaving the seeds in the pan.
  4. Pour and scrape out the sticky contents of the pan into the bowl of a food processor. Add the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder, caster sugar and eggs, and give a good long blitz to combine.
  5. Open the top of the processor, scrape down the batter, add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and the rosewater, and blitz again, then scrape into the prepared tin and smooth with a spatula. Arrange the apricot halves around the circumference of the tin.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, though if the cake is browning up a lot before it’s actually ready, you may want to cover loosely with foil at the 30-minute mark. When it’s ready, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin, the top will feel firm, and a cake tester will come out with just one or two damp crumbs on it.
  7. Remove the cake to a wire rack. If you’re using apricot jam to decorate, you may want to warm it a little first so that it’s easier to spread. Stir a teaspoon of lemon juice into the jam and brush over the top of the cake, then sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and leave the cake to cool in its tin before unspringing and removing to a plate.

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