Apricot ashes

I’ve been obsessing over how to best incorporate apricot in cake. I used to be a big believer in upside down cakes, typically called for when confronted with accusatory stone fruit getting too ripe for its own good. But my upside-down cakes wouldn’t come out with neat circles of gooey fruit crescents fanning into a caramel and cinnamon-y top. To me, the layer seems to tamper with the batter, leaving it almost soggy on the bottom and they never rise as gloriously or yield a crumb as fine as the non-upside-down ones. So, when I had a bunch of apricots and wanted to put it to good use, I decided to make preserves instead.
I had been having a good run with preserves, having made strawberry and cherry preserves in quick succession, which were divine smeared on a cream cheese-slathered slice of toast.

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Something went a little off with the apricot though, it refused to acquire that lovely compote-y texture and insisted on getting stuck to the bottom of the pan. Also, it was losing its lovely sunset hue and plumpness to yield a sullen blend. Very distraught I was. But I hung on grimly for dear life.
If I bake things that aren’t umm.. great-tasting, I try to make something else out of it-stodgy cakes go into custard, crunch-less biscuits are submerged into puddings-in an effort to salvage them. I was determined to not give up on the apricot preserve. I’d had lovely results with a plum jam which I pushed through a sieve and blended with a little rum to incorporate it straight into cake batter. That cake was moist with a blush of brown edged with tartness.

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My sullen apricot preserve was not going to cheer up anytime soon. So I decided to try a swirl instead-made of apricot and rum. Okay, once the batter plumped up, it kind of swallowed the swirl and the cake was more speckled with crusted jam bits than gracefully swirled but it tasted good so I won’t finick.
It was a long weekend of staying at home so I also tried a chicken pot pie. There was some smoked chicken salami, chicken stock and a bit of cream lying around along with carrots and beans. It was a good food week. I always struggle with the pastry part and this one came out a little lopsided as usual.

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Now for the apricot cake, ta-da! I made a rum syrup for it and drizzled it onto the still-warm cake. I’m yet to fathom the temperamental machinations of cake batter—it can be unyielding and docile in equal measures. Thankfully, this was the good one in the midst of semi-mishaps. The thing with preserves is it is as good in the sponge as it is layered on. I sieve the preserve to get most of the syrupy part out. Mix the syrup with a drizzle of rum to increase volume. This goes straight into the batter, imparting colour and depth, while the grainy fruit bits are on top. Another lovely way to use up leftover, old preserve is in a crumble topping for a cake or in waffles.

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Not a great photo but the munchkins slid out obediently from the pans, which I am always grateful for. I have invested in a thick wad of parchment paper that somehow I keep forgetting about. Notice the pooled glaze in the crack of the mini loaf? I could go to sleep there.

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