“She led him back to her kitchen and dining-room combined, a warm little room papered with flowers. Automatically she poured a cup of coffee and placed it for him and put the sugar bowl and the cream pitcher in front of it.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Some summers it’s all about berries, other times peaches. This year might be apricots. We drove inland to Hollister for the fabled Blenheim Apricot. Their season is short, three, sometimes four weeks. Often green and scarred on the outside there is an intensely flavored, bright orange apricot hiding inside. Blenheim’s don’t ship or store well and can be elusive to find. I came home from Bertuccio’s with twenty pounds and made lots of jam, a crostata and then these little cakes. I’m convinced that apricots and honey are this summer’s best flavor pairing. Served with coffee or tea the Little Honeyed Apricot Cakes are a gift of summer.
The little cakes are quickly mixed by hand and are the best sponge for soaking up the honeyed apricots. Only the added indulgence the honeyed whipped cream requires a mixer. The recipe makes the perfect amount of batter for six little cakes made in a muffin/cupcake tin with six jumbo or giant cups. This recipe is flexible, any summer fruit can be nestled in the honey– peaches, nectarines, cherries, strawberries or plums. The honey must be a liquid that is fluid and pourable or it will be impossible to completely incorporate into the cake batter or whipped cream. Honey can be warmed to fluid and pourable in the microwave or in a warm water bath. If the honey is hot it will need to cool before making the recipe.
|Little Honeyed Apricot Cakes|
|1/2t||fine grain sea salt|
|6T/75gr||unsalted butter, melted & cooled|
|1/3C||honey, fluid & pourable|
|1/2C||half and half|
|Honeyed Whipping Cream|
|2T||honey, fluid and pourable|
- Heat oven to 350°. Butter the cups of a jumbo muffin tin that has six large wells. Place a tablespoon of honey in each of the cups of the tin. Halve the apricots and remove the pits. Cut each half in thirds (if the apricots are small or quarters if they are large). Arrange the apricot slices on top of the honey, in a single layer, covering the entire bottom of each muffin cup.
- To make the cakes, sift or shake through a sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium sized bowl.
- In a large bowl whisk the eggs together. Then add the cooled butter and honey and whisk again. Add the half and half, vanilla and lemon zest and whisk until combined with the other ingredients. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Do not over mix, a few small lumps will remain.
- Divide the batter evenly among the six muffin cups, covering the honey and apricots. Bake the little cakes for 18-22 minutes. The cakes will have golden domed tops with brown edges that have pulled away from the edges of the pan. A cake tester inserted into the cake (not the honeyed apricots) will come out cleanly. Cool the little cakes in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Loosen the edges of each cake with a small off-set spatula or table knife and then remove the little cakes from the pan, turning them so that the apricots are on top and the plain cake is now on the bottom. If the cakes are removed from the tin too quickly the still hot honey and apricots may remain behind in the pan. If the cakes cool completely in the pan the honey will solidify in the bottom of the pan with the apricots.
- While the little cakes bake and cool prepare the honeyed whipped cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whipping attachment add the cream. Begin to whip the cream on low speed, gradually increasing speed as the cream thickens. When the cream is the consistency of thick yogurt gradually add the honey while the mixer is rotating. Then add the vanilla. Once the honey and vanilla are incorporated, stop the mixer and check to see if the cream is ready. For the little cakes the whipped cream should form soft cloud like pillows. If stiffer whipped cream is desired, continue beating the cream for another minute and check it again. Serve the little cakes with a dollop of whipped cream and more honey if you dare.
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