Thursday, September 20, 2007

Yeasted Apricot Cake

I made this for an office baby shower coffee break recently. It was potluck, for 10am. These things never attract 100% food contribution, but I don’t think anyone cares. There are always people who like the excuse to bake, some who will always pick up from their favourite baker/grocer and others who will always forget or overlook it. Organizers never expect everyone will bring something, thankfully, or there would be too much food.

At my work place at least, there’s also an interesting superficial attempt to be healthy, at least in the planning process. Some people bring ginger cookies as a healthier option over the doughnuts, for example. This is one of my favourite ‘breakfast’ cakes because it’s sweet and dessert like, but makes a nice pretence of still appearing appropriate enough to maintain self-respect.

The cool thing about this recipe is the way it’s cut and folded. It’s just a basic yeasted sweet dough recipe, from Martha Stewart’s Christmas Cookbook. In her recipe, she uses a poppy seed filling, but I usually substitute cinnamon roll filling (butter, brown sugar, cinnamon), chocolate, or for this trial, an apricot filling. It looks incredible and fancy and complicated, but it’s so easy. Here’s my edited version.
Apricot Filling
3 C fresh apricots, halved and pitted (about 9-10)
Juice of 1 lemon
2/3 C sugar
½ C water

Put everything into a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 mins or until thick and glossy. Leftovers are good on toast!

Sweet Dough
1 1/2 C warm milk
½ C butter, melted
1 Tbsp salt
½ C sugar
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp yeast
6-10 C all purpose flour (depending on moisture)
½ C brown sugar

1. Combine milk, water, 2 Tbsp melted butter, and eggs. Sprinkle yeast over the mixture and allow to become foamy, about 15 mins.
2. Gradually add flour. Mix well until combined into a sticky dough.
3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until it becomes a ball. Place in a large buttered bowl and allow to rise about 1.5 hrs.
4. Butter two nine-inch tube pans, or muffin pans.
5. Punch down the dough and turn onto a floured surface. Roll out to a rectangle about 14 x 17 inches, and 1.5 cm thick.
6. Brush a third of the remaining butter over the middle third of the rectangle. Spread with about ¼ C apricot filling. Do not overfill, or you’ll have apricot squeezing out the ends. Fold the bottom third of the dough over the middle. Fold the top third over the middle. It should be like folding a business letter to fit into a #10 envelope. You should now have a rectangle of three layers of dough.
7. Rotate 90 degrees and roll out again. Repeat until you have filled and folded a total of three times. Let rest 15 minutes.
8. With a sharp knife, cut a 1 inch slice from one short end of the dough. Pick up the slice, twist it and place in the bottom of the pan. Repeat, filling each pan.
9. Alternately, place a single twist into a muffin pan to create mini buns.
10. Cover and allow to rise about 45 min or until increased in bulk.
11. Bake at 375F until golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 15 minutes and flip onto a serving dish. You do not want to let it cool completely or the sticky apricots could make it difficult to remove.
I sprinkled brown sugar in the bottom of my pan, hoping to create a sweet stickiness.
I left in the oven about 5 minutes too long and was horrified when I turned it out. It doesn't look very nice, but it tasted good. It didn't taste burnt, but gave it a thin candied crust. I don't think I'll aim for that very often, but seem people love that sort of thing.

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