An early morning baking session yielded a softly sweet streusel-strewn coffee cake that was perfect for snacking with mid-morning (that would be SB) tea. Later in the day, it became a cozy dessert with a pot of hot tea.
I have been slowly making the rounds of all the neat Christmas gifts that came my way on Christmas morning. These little garden nippers are really neat ... and wicked sharp! Perfect for clipping some holly to embellish my special coffee cake.
I used another gift, Nigel Slater's Notes From The Larder and his Apricot Crumble Cake to inspire me on this latest baking foray. His writing style is comfortable and chatty ... I like it. It's as if he's sitting at the table, yakking away with me like an old crony. He's quite casual in the kitchen too ... just like me.
Makes me feel all chipper and cheery to see a snowy cake with a sprig of holly atop ... like Mrs. Cratchit when she presents Bob with the Christmas pudding ...
This year's Christmas cake is inspired by Nigel Slater's Apricot Crumble Cake. I have jazzed it up a bit by using some orange marmalade that needs using up and some good apricot brandy in which to soak the apricots. I also had to make my own self-rising flour, as I never keep that specialty flour blend in my pantry.
I included the instructions for making one's own self-rising flour at the end of the recipe - fyi.
Apricot Crumble Cake
inspired by Nigel Slater
7 oz. bag dried apricots, soaked in very hot water for 1 hour
2 tbsp. apricot (or peach) brandy
¾ c. soft unsalted butter
¾ c. dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
⅔ c. ground almonds (almond flour)
1 ½ c. self-rising flour (1½ c. all purpose flour, 2¼ tsp. baking powder, scant ½ tsp salt)
a generous pinch cinnamon
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
⅔ c. all purpose flour
5 tbsp. cold butter
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
3 tbsp. old fashioned oats
3 tbsp. sliced almonds
a generous pinch of cinnamon
For assembling the cake:
⅓ c. orange marmalade, spooned in small dollops onto the apricot layer
Confectioner’s sugar for sprinkling atop the finished cake
Making the Dish:
- Soak the apricots in hot water for one hour. Drain the water off really well, chop them into half-inch bits and pour the brandy over top. Set aside.
- Make the streusel crumble by mixing the flour, sugar, and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Use a knife to cut in the cold butter until is resembles tiny bits of gravel. Toss in the oats and almond slices. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 325° F. and place a rack in the upper half of the oven.
- Cream the butter and brown sugar until it is really soft and fluffy and coffee-colored.
- Add the eggs and vanilla extract, beating gently.
- Whisk together the self-rising flour and the almond flour.
- Add in three small additions , beating to combine.
- Add the pinch of cinnamon and drain the brandy and apricot juices into the batter, beating gently to combine.
- Line the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with a round of parchment paper. Grease the pan and the paper.
- Turn the stiff batter into the bottom of the pan and smooth the batter layer.
- Arrange the apricot bits over the batter up to (but not touching) the edges of the pan.
- Dot the orange marmalade over and among the apricot bits.
- Scatter the streusel crumble over the top of the apricot/marmalade layer, right up to the edges and down around the apricot layer.
- Pop in a preheated oven and bake for just over an hour, testing with a cake tester during the last ten minutes. The tester should come clean when the cake is done and the center will not be ‘jiggley’.
- Let the cake cool for ten minutes and then release the sides of the spring form.
- Cool the cake for several minutes and then use the parchment paper to slide the cake to a pretty platter.
- Sprinkle generously with confectioner’s sugar, decorate as you wish and serve warm with a pot of tea or carafe of coffee.
NOTE: Self-rising flour proportions: for each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.