July 15, 2004
[Coffee Cake à l'Abricot]
I am currently spending a few days with my family in the Vosges, a mountain range in the East of France where my parents have a vacation house. One of the great pleasures of being there, besides enjoying the garden, taking walks up the mountain, and sleeping soundly in the perfect quiet, is baking with my mother. This is something I used to do pretty often when I still lived with my parents, but now that I'm a big girl with my own place and all, these occasions aren't so frequent and are to be relished.
The cake you see here I didn't actually bake, as my mother made it before Céline and I got off the train from Paris yesterday. But I did eat it for the goûter in the afternoon, and it was really scrumptious -- which hardly comes as a surprise when my mom bakes. The bottom of the cake is nicely dense, its sweetness lovely against the tart apricots, and the top of the cake is deliciously moist, from the fruit and the creamy topping. It could also be made with other kinds of tart, not overly juicy fruit, such as halved plums, pink rhubarb chunks, apple slices...
I asked my mother if she would like to share the recipe with C&Z readers, and she said "Oui, bien sûr!" She explained that it came from Woman's Journal, a now defunct British magazine she liked to read, and which my father would always pick up for her when his work took him to London. She brought me the clipped-out page -- the theme of the article was "American Bakes" and included, oddly enough, a Mincemeat Crumble Cake -- but when she took a closer look at the recipe, she said "Oh. But that's not how I do it at all," and proceeded to walk me through her version, which was indeed quite different from the one in print.
So it seems that the inability to follow even a baking recipe runs in the family, and it is my mom's Apricot Coffee Cake, of course, that I share with you below.
Apricot Coffee Cake
- 500 grams (1.1 pounds) ripe apricots, washed and quartered
- 225 grams (1/2 pound, about 1 3/4 cups) flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- a dash of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 150 grams (10 tablespoons) butter
- 1 tablespoon milk, or more as needed
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon crème fraîche (substitute heavy cream and/or sour cream)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 egg
- confectioner's sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and grease a 22 cm (9'') cake pan, preferably springform.
In a food processor, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and butter. Add in the sugar, and mix again. Add in the egg and milk, then mix again until just combined, avoid overmixing. The batter should be thick, but not dry; depending on the flour you used and its absorbency power, add more milk as needed.
Pour the batter into the pan and spread it around with a spatula. Add the apricots on top, arranging them in a pretty circular pattern.
In a small bowl, combine the crème fraîche, sugar and egg, beating them with a fork, and pour this mixture evenly over the top of the cake.
Put in the oven to bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden and the apricots are tender. Leave it in the turned off oven for another ten to fifteen minutes. Dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving, warm, at room temperature or cold.
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