Apricot, Walnut, and Lavender Cake

ottolenghi's apricot walnut lavender cake | apt 2b baking co
ottolenghi's apricot walnut and lavender cake | apt 2b baking co

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.

ottolenghi's apricot walnut and lavender cake | apt 2b baking co

Berry and Apricot Galettes with Saffron

apricot and berry galettes
apricot and berry galettes
brooklyn rooftop

Summer is time to keep it easy. Eat dinner outside on makeshift tables, hang with friends, and eat dessert off of paper towels instead of plates because who has time to do dishes when there are sunsets to watch and Campari and sodas to drink? Summer is even the time to not stress when your photos are all mysteriously crooked and the lab gets dust all over your scans, ahem...

I made these galettes a few weeks ago for just such an occasion and yes, I know, this recipe is cheating a little bit because I used the same rye pastry (I made a big batch and stored some in the freezer, which I highly recommend!) I used for these strawberry guys, but this time I filled the tarts with a combination of blueberries, blackberries, and rosy cheeked apricots dusted with just a bit of saffron. They were the perfect end to a summertime meal and the pastry was sturdy enough that we didn't even have to use plates to eat them, bonus.

Berry and Apricot Galettes with Saffron

adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce

yield 2 medium tarts

I added a few saffron threads to these tarts which was a lovely and unexpected touch, but if you don't have access to saffron, the tarts are wonderful without it.

1 recipe rye dough, recipe below

1 1/2 pounds apricots

1 cup blueberries

1 cup blackberries

1/2 cup apricot jam

2-4 tablespoons sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fruit

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (optional)

seeds from 1 vanilla bean

zest from one lemon

pinch salt

1 egg

4 tablespoons coarse sugar for sprinkling

To assemble

1. Divide the dough into  two pieces. Work with one piece at a time. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a roughly 15'' circle, 1/8'' thick. Transfer the rounds to two large, lined sheet pans. Store in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

2. Gently tear the apricots in half and discard the pits.

3. In a large bowl, rub the vanilla bean seeds, saffron threads and lemon zest into the sugar. The sugar should turn slightly yellow and smell wonderful at this point.

4. Add the fruit into the sugar mixture and toss gently to combine. Prepare an egg wash by beating an egg in a bowl with a tablespoon of water.

5. Remove the pastry from the fridge and spread each one with about 4 tablespoons of jam, then divide the fruit evenly between the disks, leaving a 1 1/2'' border around the edges. Fold the edges of the pastry over the filling and gently brush the egg wash between the folds to seal. Chill the formed tarts until they are firm, 30-40min.

6. While the tarts are chilling, preheat your oven to 375º. When the tarts are nice and cold, remove them from the fridge, gently brush the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

7. Bake until the fruit juices bubble and ooze and the pastry is a deep golden brown, about 30-40 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

Rye Rough Puff Pastry

adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce

yield, pastry for 1 large, 2 medium or  4-6 small tarts

I won't lie, the rye pastry takes a bit of work to put together but man is it good. It's my new favorite base for fruit desserts that I plan on using all summer long. Kim Boyce recommends "turing the dough"twice for this recipe, but I wanted a few more flakey layers so I gave it an extra turn. If you are going to use this dough to make a traditional pie, I suggest just doing the two turns.  Once you get the hang of making the dough, I suggest making a double or triple batch so you can have it at the ready for all of your summer pies, tarts, and galettes like these guys.

4.25 ounces rye flour

4.25 ounces all purpose flour

1/8 ounce salt

1/2 ounce sugar

6 ounces cold butter cut into chunks

4 ounces ice water (may need a little less or more than this)

1t apple cider vinegar

1. In a large bowl, mix the flours, salt and sugar together. Add in the butter and quickly rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers. You want the butter to break up into small pieces the size of peas to lima beans.

2. Combine the water and apple cider vinegar in a measuring cup. Make a well in the flour/butter mixture and slowly stream the water into the dough while mixing gently. Mix until the water is evenly distributed and the dough holds together when you squeeze it. It will look dry, and that's okay, just as long as it holds together when you squeeze it. If it is too dry, add a bit more water.

3. Dump the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, gather the wrap tightly around the dough and refrigerate it for at least an hour or overnight.

4. After it has chilled, unwrap the dough and place it onto a lightly floured board. Pat the dough into a rough square, then roll it into an 8'' x 11'' rectangle. The dough will be a bit rough and crumbly and that's okay! With the long side of the dough facing you, gently fold the dough into thirds. Then turn the dough so the seam is at the top and parallel to your body. Repeat this process 3 more times then wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days before using.

If the rolling/turning sounds confusing, here is a great photo tutorial for making rough puff pastry on Food52.  Their method utilizes 6 "turns" of the dough, which isn't necessary for this recipe but it will give you a great idea of what the rolling process looks like.

apricot and berry galettes