Sunday, July 14, 2013

double apricot & yogurt cake

well, it's been a difficult week and it's hard sometimes not to feel powerless and afraid of where things are going. i try to remember that worrying doesn't help unless it's accompanied by some kind of action. since i can't personally do anything right now about my great state's legislative war on women's bodies, and i certainly can't solve america's race problems, for now i'm baking a cake.

that's not to say, of course, that baking will solve anything of importance. as a lawyer, i do feel like i have some responsibility to use my training to work on some of those bigger issues. i'm currently working in the area of mental health, which could obviously use some improvements. i'm also trying to figure out where i should start volunteering my time. i'm thinking about The Innocence Project.

but in the meantime, closer to home, our dear neighbor had to put her house on the market and put her sweet elderly dog to sleep on the same day. i'm sure it's been a roller coaster for her and it's hard to deal with the open houses and having to be out somewhere while strangers tromp through your home, especially if you're missing your little furry companion. 

so, i decided to make her some cake. it's apricot season and i got a bunch recently. unfortunately, though they tasted good, their texture left a bit to be desired. luckily, any slight mealiness disappears when you bake them, leaving only soft jammy fruit. i also added chopped dried apricots to boost the flavor even more. 

to chop the dry ones, i piled 3-4 on top of each other and cut them into 5 or 6 sections, then turned them and cut again, leaving them in a small dice. the fresh apricots i just cut in half and then into wedges - maybe 5-6 per half. 

the rest of the cake was based on this one from Dorie Greenspan (although i actually have that cookbook, so i could have just used that). i brought the sugar down a bit, added a little ginger and left out the lemon zest, but otherwise mostly left it alone. i didn't have almonds for almond meal, which is offered as optional, but i think it would be good here, as almonds and apricots go well together. 

this is almost a one-bowl cake, which is my favorite kind. as it is, it only used two and required no mixer, so that's pretty good. just whisk the dry ingredients, mix the wet, add the dried apricot bits to the dry ingredients, using your fingers to separate the little stickies a bit so they don't clump together, then add the wet. mix until just combined and add the fresh apricots. fold them in gently so they don't go to pieces.

then just bake in a loaf pan buttered and lined with buttered parchment paper. mine took about 45 minutes or a bit more, but i also was using a 9" x 5" pan instead of the 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" that the original calls for. so just keep an eye on it. let it cool for maybe 10 minutes in the pan, then take it out to cool fully on a rack. it will be tempting, but i wouldn't cut it before it's cooled if you can help it. 

obviously cake's not going to solve any of the major problems facing the world today, but it can make your friends' lives a little brighter and sometimes that's all you can do on a weekend afternoon.

*double apricot & yogurt cake*
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's French Yogurt Cake

preheat the oven to 350.

5 small apricots (280 g/ almost 10 ounces)
9 dried apricots (100 g/ 3 1/2 ounces)

1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (i would actually use more next time - it doesn't show up too much - maybe 1 teaspoon instead?)

whisk dry ingredients together and add the dried apricot pieces, using your fingers to get them incorporated so they don't form a big lump

1/2 cup plain yogurt (i used 2%, but you can probably use whatever, honestly)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar (you could probably use 2/3 cup - it was still pretty sweet)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mild oil (i used canola)

whisk wet ingredients together and add to dry or vice versa. mix gently until just combined, then add the fresh apricot pieces and fold in, trying not to break them up too much. in the original recipe, you're supposed to add the oil at the end, but i forgot and put it in too early and it was fine.

put in 9"x 5" loaf pan that's been buttered and lined with buttered parchment paper. bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes, or until it's a nice dark toasty brown and a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean. let it sit on a rack for 10 minutes or so, then remove from pan and let cool on rack.

this would be really good with some ice cream or some barely sweetened whipped cream, but is perfectly nice with some coffee or tea as well. it's the little things...

*i should probably also note that i didn't give her quite all of the cake because i had to cut it and then we had to eat a little to make sure it wasn't gross. luckily, it wasn't.

listening to: ravishers - portland, poppy, boy-girl harmonies - what more can you ask for?