I’m a big fan of dried apricots. And no I’m not talking about those orange hockey pucks you usually see in most grocers. I’m talking about moist, sweet and very delicious Amrita apricots. These are more the consistency of dried plums (prunes for us old folk). Sunsweet sells them a 3 lb bag at Costco and I am so glad that I tried that first bag.
I started out making a simple apricot spread with them. Simmer them is a little apple juice (or whatever you like) with a bit of nutmeg or cinnamon, cool and puree in your food processor. You’ll never eat store bought spread again.
From there I found they just made a great snack for me and my kids..no sugar added and plenty of fiber. You’ve seen me put them in cookies, muffins, baked oatmeal, and even a couscous salad. It was only a matter of time before I made a cake.
This is best served as a coffee cake for Sunday brunch or as a light dessert after supper. The cake is a buttermilk style cornmeal cake that is moist, but not overly sweet, thanks to the molasses. The apricots take the main stage, but share nicely with the sliced almonds and dried cranberries. Poaching the apricots in fruit juice and a cinnamon stick first soften them even further. A simple cake with an elegant look that holds up well and will keep you full thanks in part to the yogurt and whole wheat for more protein.
1 cup cornmeal (I use stone ground)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup greek yogurt (plain nonfat)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2-3 Tbs dried cranberries
1 to 1 1/2 cups dried Amrita apricots
1/4 cup slices almonds
fruit juice as needed
1 cinnamon stick
The amount of fruit you need will depend on how wide a pan you bake your cake in. I suggest laying out your fruit pattern in the bottom of your cake pan first so you’ll know how many apricots to poach—like this. I used a 9 inch spring form pan and 1 1/2 cups apricots.
Place apricots in a small saucepan with just enough fruit juice to cover. Add a cinnamon stick. Bring barely to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until apricots have plumped up nicely. Let cool and drain. (You can do this a day or 2 in advance, if needed. Wait until right before use to drain.)
While the apricots are cooling, make your batter.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a medium bowl combine flours, cornmeal, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir and set aside.
In your mixer’s bowl combine eggs, oil, yogurt, milk, lemon juice, sugar and molasses. Beat until well combined.
In a well greased 9 in pan, place your cranberries in the center. Lay out the apricots in a circular pattern. Sprinkle the outside rim with the almonds. (or make up your own pattern!)
Add your mixed dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix only until the batter comes together. Pour batter over the arranged fruits/nuts. Tilt pan to spread batter to the edges. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until toothpick placed in center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Release sides (if using spring form) and invert over serving plate. Remove pan and allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!