Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Apricot Jam and an Apricot-Almond Sheet Cake

Apricots are now the peak of their season in Europe. I especially like the apricots from France, because they are firm, and yet sweet and juicy, so they are perfect to put on a cake. They are also good for making jams, and I made a batch of apricot-vanilla jam last week. It's one of the most versatile jams for baking. It tastes great as a glaze on fruit tarts, danish pastries and as filling in cakes like a Sacher torte. I will be using my apricot-vanilla jam for glazing for my recipe today, and I recommend you to make some for yourself whenever you find some nice apricots.

Apricots also goes very well with almonds, since they have similar taste profiles. Sometimes apricot kernels are used to make persipan, which is a cheaper alternative to marzipan, which is made from almonds. This cake has both ground almonds in the dough, and slivered almonds on top. There is no need to put it in the fridge; it will keep well for a couple of days in a cool place.

Apricot Jam

1 kg apricots (weighed without the pits)
1 kg jam (gelling) sugar (1:1) - if you can't find jam sugar, use regular sugar plus the recommended amount of pectin for 1 kg fruit or preserving sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 shot of apricot schnapps (Marillenbrand)

Cut the apricots in small pieces. With a hand blender puree half of the apricots. Put the apricot puree and the pieces together in a tall pot. Add the sugar. Cut open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the vanilla bean to the apricots. Cover the pot and let stand over night at a cool place.

To prepare the jam glasses rains them with boiling water. Boil the apricots over high heat for about 4-8 minutes (look at the sugar/ pektin package for the exact timing). Put a small spoonful of jam on a cold plate, if the apricots are starting to jell the jam is ready. Add the shot of schnapps and immediately fill in the prepared glasses. Close glasses immediately and turn up-side-down for about 10 minutes.

Apricot-Almond Sheet Cake

500 g apricots
140 g butter
200 g brown cane sugar (demerara sugar)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
250 g mascarpone
½ tsp. pure almond extract
250 g flour
1 tsp. baking powder
200 g ground almonds
50 g slivered almonds
1 tbsp. brown sugar
6-8 tbsp. apricot jam

Preheat the oven to 190° Celsius (375°F), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash the apricots, remove their pits and cut in strips.

Melt the butter over low heat. In a bowl using a handmixer mix together the mascarpone, eggs, cane sugar, almond extract and the melted butter. Combine the flour, baking powder and ground almonds and add it to the mixture. Stir until well combined.

Fill the dough on the prepared baking sheet and smooth out the top. Arrange the apricot slices on top. Mix the slivered almonds with the brown sugar and spread over the cake. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes.

In a small saucepan heat up the apricot jam together with 1 tbsp. of water. Spread the warm jam on the cake as it comes out of the oven. Let cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy and Guten Appetit!
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