It’s Sunday, and I am here to tell you something: apricots are one of those fruits I neglect. I admit it–I take them for granted, and don’t realize how that special peach-like consistency with an extra sour punch goes a long, long way. I’ve always loved the taste of apricots. Childhood memories revolve around apricot cream cheese danishes from the favorite local bakery, paired alongside a tall glass of orange juice. It was the perfect sugar rush kickstart for a 7-year-old on a Sunday morning.
But I’m not 7 anymore, and I live 700 miles away from my hometown’s favorite bakery. Now that I’m “grown-up” and all, and since I haven’t figured out how to make homemade danish dough (that’s what it’s called, right?) to make my own apricot cream cheese danishes (someday), this particular Apricot, Walnut, and Lavender Cake from the Plenty More cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi seemed much more approachable and doable than slaving for hours in the kitchen and saying a prayer over a bowl of yeast. Plus it’s a little bit healthier (thanks to walnuts, almonds and minimal flour), and I’ll take any excuse to use lavender in anything I can.
The texture is a crossover between a lovely Gâteau Basque cake with the almond flour component, and a tender, soft crumb coffee cake of sorts with sunken ripe apricots. It’s a lovely way to celebrate the end of Spring and the start of Summer alongside a cup of piping hot coffee… just like I did at the beginning of last week.
If anything, this cake proves the talent of Ottolenghi is strong, and that Plenty More deserves a special place on your cookbook shelf at home. Everything this guy makes is pure magic.
- For the Cake:
- ¾ cup plus 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature, diced
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- 1 cup plus 1½ Tablespoons superfine sugar
- 1¼ cups ground almond flour
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup walnuts, freshly blitzed in food processor to a coarse powder
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1½ teaspoons dried lavender buds
- 10 ripe apricots, halved and pitted
- For the Icing:
- 6 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place butter, oil, superfine sugar, and almonds in a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in small additions, continuing to beat until well incorporated. Fold in walnuts, flour, vanilla, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of the lavender, and ⅛ teaspoon salt.
- Line the base of a 8-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper and spray all sides of pan with cooking spray. Pour in cake batter and level the top. Arrange apricot halves, skin side down, slightly overlapping, over the top, right to the edge. Bake in the oven for 70-80 minutes, covering with aluminum foil if top starts to brown too much.
- While cake is baking, make the icing. Whisk together confectioners' sugar and lemon juice to get a light, pourable icing, adjusting the amount of sugar and juice if needed. As soon as cake comes out of the oven, brush the icing on top.
- Sprinkle remaining ½ teaspoon lavender over the top and leave cake to cool before removing springform sides of pan and serving.