The apricots in New York are amazingly beautiful (and plentiful!) this year, actually all of the fruit this year has been amazing which is a surprise after the long winter we had...So naturally, I bought a ton of them, then needed to use them up quickly as they ripened all at once. I have been meaning to make this cake from Plenty More since the book came out in the US last year, and when I saw on instagram that my pal Laura made it (combined with my over-ripening apricots) I was spurred into action.
Making this cake requires the use of both a food processor (to grind the nuts) and an electric mixer (to mix the batter), which normally would turn me off because I am a one appliance at a time kind of cook. BUT! This cake is totally worth the dishes. It is dense and nutty, punctuated by sweet and tart apricots and gently floral lavender buds. It's also the kind of cake that is delicious the next day, so feel free to make it the day before you serve it.
It has been an Ottolenghi inspired month over here. Check out the Nutella and Halvah Babka I made for Food52 using Ottolenghi's Krantz cake dough HERE.
Apricot, Walnut, and Lavender Cake
from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
makes one 9-inch cake
This is one of those recipes that was so obviously written with gram measurements that the cup measurements are a bit awkward (like 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) so I have just included the grams below. The recipe has been posted in a couple of other places online so if you'd prefer the cups just search around a little. Also, the recipe calls for superfine sugar, but I made this cake with granulated sugar and it worked great, I might even cut the sugar 50g or so next time I make it. I also added a bit more salt to the recipe as the original only called for 1/8 teaspoon which felt a little skimpy for my taste.
185g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
2 tablespoons walnut oil
220g superfine sugar
120g ground almonds
4 large eggs, beaten
120g ground walnuts
90g all purpose flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
1½ teaspoon lavender flowers, fresh or dry
1/2 teaspoon salt
600g (about 15) apricots, halved and pitted
For the icing
50g icing sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Heat the oven to 375ºF. Line the base and sides of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper and lightly butter the paper.
Put the butter, oil, sugar and almonds in the bowl of a mixer and beat on a medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs bit by bit, making sure each addition is well incorporated before beginning the next, then fold in the walnuts, flour, vanilla, lemon zest, a teaspoon of lavender flowers and salt.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Arrange the apricot halves skin side down and slightly overlapping all over the top of the cake, taking them right to the edge.
Bake for 70-80 minutes – cover with foil if the top starts to brown too much; also, note that when you insert a skewer to test for doneness, it will come out a little sticky because of all the moisture in the apricots.
While the cake is baking, whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice until you have a light, pourable icing (adjust the amount of sugar or juice slightly, to suit your tastes). Let the cake cool for 15 minutes then drizzle the icing over the top. Sprinkle over the remaining lavender flowers and set aside to cool completely before slicing.