Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Humble Humdinger: Pistachio Cake with Honeyed Apricots

Sometimes a recipe waltzes into your life and stays, demanding your full attention. Maybe it is the season--the apricots (still!) are ripening on the tree, and your mother-in-law is feverishly making batch after batch of jam. You might feel the pressure too.
 


Say you happen to remember being dumbfounded at the very end of last season by a certain cake. A pistachio cake, with apricots. And you only got to make it once.

This cake--this pistachio cake with a surprise center of apricots in every slice--is another one of those humble humdingers. It is wheaty, nutty, moist, and dizzyingly fragrant. It does look rather lacy, which is nice, and it tends to create a darling, wide scalloped edge where the apricots sunk and the cake rose. But it isn't a layer cake, and it would probably be weird with powdered sugar. I can maybe imagine it with whipped cream. Maybe.



On second thought, no whipped cream either. Just cake. At midnight maybe, or 5am with a cup of something hot and caffeinated, or 3pm, or...

Well, you get the picture.


Pistachio Cake with Honeyed Apricots

Adapted from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

Use apricots here that are firm-ripe. The cake is so moist as it is, the structure of the fruit matters. That said, if all you have is sloppy-ripe-falling-apart-apricots, don't let that stop you. But you may want to add another tablespoon or two of flour.

1 cup shelled raw pistachios
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup almond milk (or cow, or probably soy)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
5 1/2 apricots
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and line the bottom of a 9-inch round, preferably a spring-form pan.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the pistachios until very finely ground. They will become oily and threaten to turn into butter. Molly says it should be fine like sand, but I always chickened out and settled for cornmeal. Add the dry ingredients and pulse to mix. Set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This shouldn't take long. Add eggs one at a time, and beat well after each.

Pour the milk into a liquid measure and add the vanilla to it. Add the milk mixture and the flour mixture in parts, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir until just barely combined.

Pour cake batter into the prepared pan

Prepare the apricots: slice in half and smear a little honey in the inner dip of each apricot. Arrange apricots cut side up on the cake, pressing down a little until the flat of the apricot is flush with the batter.

Slip the cake into the preheated oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in its pan for at least 10 minutes, then slide a knife around the edge to help the cake loosen and remove it from the pan to cool further. Cool at least half way before serving. Store and serve at room temperature (or just warm). Enjoy!



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