eWhen the apricots begin to pop up from late May/Early June, this always signals the start of summer for me. Not only does it mark the beginning of the preserving season (apricot jam is always the first batch to be made year) but also the welcome return of colour & fresh flavour to the kitchen.
Fragrant, sweet & full of sunshine hue ranging from pale yellow to deep orange, apricots are great all rounders with so many uses, both sweet & savoury. When it comes to flavour, it’s best to avoid very pale varieties of apricot, those with wrinkled or blemished skin. If the flesh is ripe then the kernel inside the fruit will fall out easily (top tip!).
I enjoy apricots for the subtlety, they’re not quite as bold or toothachingly sweet as the rest of the summer’s offerings which makes them great to pair with a multitude of flavours. They go very well with almond & vanilla flavours though without being lost.
So, now that the first jam has been made, here’s a simple traybake I made to enjoy in the sunshine this weekend, apricot & mascarpone cake. A simple, almond & vanilla sponge, dotted with fresh apricots & topped with a lightly sweetened mascarpone. This is simplicity at it’s finest, fresh, colourful but not overly sweet, it’s the sort of cake you could easily come back for another square or two.
APRICOT & MASCARPONE CAKE
(makes one 26x20cm traybake/12 slices)
For the cake:
- 220g butter
- 200g caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 250g self raising flour
- 100g ground almonds
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g fresh apricots, stoned & chopped
For the topping & decoration:
- 500g mascarpone
- 60g icing sugar
- 2-3 apricots, sliced
- A few edible flowers
- Grease and line a 26 x 20cm baking tin with baking parchment
- In a large bowl beat together the butter & sugar until light & fluffy
- Add the eggs to the bowl, one at a time, beating between each one until well incorporated
- Sift over the flour, almond & baking powder & mix together until well combined & no dry pockets of flour remain
- Add the vanilla & milk to the bowl & mix into the batter to loosen a little
- Next, pour half of the mixture into the prepared cake tin before scattering over the chopped apricots
- Pour the remaining mixture over the top of the apricots & bake in the oven at 180C for 50 minutes until golden, well risen & until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out cleanly when removed
- Leave the cake to cool in its tin for 10 minutes before removing & placing on a cooling rack to completely cool
- To make the topping, simply beat together the mascarpone with the icing sugar until smooth
- Once cooled, use a spatula to spread the mascarpone all over the top of the cake
- Finish with the apricot slices & flowers for decoration before cutting into squares