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Friday, June 21, 2013

Apricot Cakes

Happy first day of summer!  I'm trying hard to mentally prepare myself for the hot, sticky summer weather, but honestly, I'm not looking forward to it.  I find the high temperatures to be extremely uncomfortable, and might I mention, it makes me very reluctant to partake in my love of baking.  Living in Southern California with no air conditioning means I have to be very selective when it comes to turning on the oven.

However, although there are things I clearly don't enjoy about the summer, there are plenty of things that I am looking forward to!  I can't wait to spend days at the beach, and hopefully get a nice summer tan.  I also hope to do a bit of traveling this summer, with Hawaii being the first destination on our summer to-do list.  Most importantly of all, I'm looking forward to enjoying all of the fresh summer produce.  I especially love all of the delicious fruit that summer brings; berries, peaches, plums, and apricots, to name a few.

That's why I'm so excited to share this recipe with you all.  I actually had a few other recipes lined up before this one, but since today is the first day of summer I thought this would be most appropriate.  I baked these little cakes yesterday afternoon, after enduring a leisurely day of running errands, walking the dog, and doing some things around the house.  I saw this recipe in the most recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine, and have had my mind on these cakes ever since.

This recipe was a part of a picnic themed segment in the magazine, and I agree, these would be perfect little cakes to wrap up and bring along to a picnic.  However, I don't have any plans to go on a picnic anytime soon, so I whipped these up for a simple afternoon snack.  These cakes were much better than I could have ever anticipated.  I immediately knew I was in for a treat when they were baking in the oven, because the smell that filled my home was amazing.  The buttery, sugary, vanilla-y aroma made me anxious for these to finish baking, and when they did, I was not disappointed.  I love the crusty edges and tops, which have a hint of crunch from the raw sugar.  The apricot slices lend just enough flavor and sweetness to offset the smooth buttery vanilla flavor of the cake.

The cakes are great by themselves, but I've already started thinking about how they would taste with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Unfortunately, I don't have either on hand.  At the rate I've been eating them, I have a feeling I may run out of these cakes before I can make it to the store to buy whipping cream or ice cream.  I guess I'll have to make these again.  Darn...  ;)


Apricot Cakes
Print this recipe
Yield:  12 cakes
Recipe from Bon Appetit magazine, June 2013 issue

Nonstick baking spray (or vegetable oil spray)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
2 apricots, halved, pitted, cut into 1/4" wedges
2 Tbsp. raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat muffin cups with nonstick spray.  Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in another medium bowl, occasionally scraping down sides, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add egg, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat until combined.

With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Divide batter among muffin cups (cups will be only 1/3 full) and smooth tops.  Top with apricot slices and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake until cakes are golden and a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack; let pan cool 5 minutes.  Transfer cakes to rack and let cool completely.

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