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Apricot tea cake

Just as there’s an abundance of apricots, sometimes there’s a lot of leftover apricot jam. Glazes are great, but they don’t use up much. After flipping through some cookbooks, I got the idea to use apricot jam instead of applesauce to make a tea cake.

apricot tea cake

Unlike applesauce which is usually unsweetened, fruit jams can have a lot of added sugar, so I needed to lower the amount of sugar. I also wanted to avoid the cinnamon / clove / allspice / ginger / nutmeg combination I frequently saw. I do like a good gingerbread or spice cake, but for this I wanted something different. With a vaguely Middle Eastern touch in mind, I used cardamom and rose water, along with a bit of (yeah, okay) cinnamon.

The result, as Simon put it, “is like a sponge version of baklava.” Minus the nuts, honey and phyllo, of course, but pleasantly similar in flavor. We couldn’t taste apricots much at all, but the jam makes the cake moist, and adds a subtle fruity tartness.

Consume with tea or coffee. Adding a dollop of your cream of choice (fraîche, sour, whipped, clotted, sweetened or not) would be acceptable but certainly not required. 🙂

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • scant 3 ounces (1/3 cup) sugar, with a couple extra tablespoons for the pan
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 1/2 ounces unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup apricot jam (a small 8-ounce jar typically contains 6 ounces of jam, i.e., 3/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons rose water

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease an 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pan with butter or oil. You can optionally place a circle of parchment paper in the pan’s base to ease cake removal; lightly grease the paper as well, if you do this. Finally, coat the pan with a layer of sugar, shaking out the excess.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer until fluffy; scrape the sides of the bowl periodically so that both ingredients are well mixed.
  3. Slowly add the egg to the creamed mixture until well incorporated and (still) fluffy. I do this by adding a quarter of the beaten egg at a time, with the mixer initially at medium speed, then briefly (a few seconds) at high speed after each addition.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon and salt into a separate bowl; it’s easy to do this with a fine sieve. Mix the apricot jam and rose water in another bowl or jug.
  5. Alternate stirring in the dry ingredients and apricot jam to the cream-egg mixture. Remember to scrape the bowl’s sides now and then to mix everything well.
  6. Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake until golden brown and the sides have pulled away from the pan, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Cool for at least 20 minutes before removing the cake the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Orange variation

Updated 19-Jan-2008. For a less spicy, more citrusy version, omit the cardamom, cinnamon and rose water. You’ll need the zest and juice from 1 large orange.

  1. Between steps 1 and 2 above, put the apricot jam and the orange juice (1/4 to 1/2 cup) in a small saucepan. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then strain out the bits, yielding roughly 2/3 cup of apricot-orange syrup. Set aside to cool.
  2. Add the orange zest during the creaming stage at step 2.
  3. Mix in the apricot-orange syrup as described in step 5. Then continue following the rest of the above recipe.

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