Apricot Butter-Almond Coffee Cake
by Katya Simkhovich
I have a super power, although it is somewhat bizarre, and sometimes annoying. I seem to wake up before my alarm goes off or before the superintendent of our school calls to tell us we have a snow-day. Maybe it’s intuition. I think it’s a super power. Regardless I woke up at 5:40 am Wednesday morning, 20 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. I lay in bed trying not to get my hopes up about having a snow day even though there was a 4 inch white blanket covering the world outside my window, pretending that it was any old school day. Then what do I hear at 5:44 am? A phone call. No one picks up and I strain my ears to hear what the message is saying. Snow-day.
Most would go back to sleep at the sound of such wonderful news. But not I. My thoughts immediately turned to what I was going to bake that morning. My sleepy brain flipped through the folders in my head, trying to choose between scones or muffins or quick bread or coffee cake. Needless to say I have been known to become extremely distressed when trying to choose between the hundreds of possibilities and this morning was no different. Not wanting a headache so early in the day, I narrowed it down to two choices: morning glory muffins or apricot butter-almond coffee cake, both from King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. To make my decision making move more quickly my empty stomach grumbled with hunger. Fed up with lying hungrily in bed trying to decide, I descended the stairs and reached into the pantry and pulled out a jar of apricot preserves. Apricot Butter-Almond Cake it was.
This was the perfect breakfast for a gloomy, just-turned-rainy, snow day morning. The apricot scented cake is topped with a mixture of butter, brown sugar, heavy cream(which I didn’t have so I used whole milk), a pinch of salt, vanilla, and almonds reminiscent of sticky toffee pudding. I only used about half of it and I’m glad I did because it would have been much too sweet otherwise. This buttery cake was unbelievably moist and I’m sure it would keep this way for days… if it lasts that long.
You know it’s good when my small family of three (including my sweets-avoiding mother) devours more than two-thirds of it for breakfast.
Apricot Butter-Almond Cake slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour Baking Companion
- 5 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cups apricot preserves, preferable unsweetened (I used reduced sugar and also reduced the amount of sugar in the cake to about 1/2 a cup)
- 1 1/8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ( I used whole wheat pastry flour)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk (I used reduced fat)
- I also added a tad bit of vanilla extract
Topping ( I ended up only using about half)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (I used about 1/2 cup)
- 6 tablespoons butter
- heaping 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk (I used whole milk)
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. If the mixture looks curdled at any point, don’t panic, it’ll straighten itself out as you go along. Stir in the apricot preserves.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture alternately with the milk, beating to combine.
- Pour the batter into a lightly greased 9-inch round baking pan. Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes, until a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven an allow it to cool for about 10 minutes while you preheat your broiler.
- While the cake is baking, make the topping.
- In a small saucepan, heat over low to medium heat the brown sugar, butter, salt, and cream. Simmer the mixture gently over low heat, uncovered, for 15 minutes; when you see 1/2-inch bubbles forming and breaking with a snapping sound, remove it from the heat and stir in the almonds and the flavoring.
- Spread the warm topping over the cake.
- Broil it 1 inch from the heat for just about 1 minute; the topping will bubble and become golden brown. Watch it carefully. If you’re nervous, broil it for a longer amount of time a bit farther from the heat.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.
Enjoy! Preferably on a lazy, rainy, snow-day morning.