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JOY OF BAKING

Apricot jam cake

(Food Styling/Karoline Boehm Goodnick; Photos By Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
May 27, 2009

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Buttery and brightened with a filling and glaze of apricot jam, this close-textured and moist cake is uplifted by the tang of buttermilk and a few spoonfuls of sour cream. Pull the buttery cake from the oven and after it has cooled, split it in half, and spread lemony apricot preserves in the middle. Then carefully reposition the top of the cake and coat it with the remaining glaze. At dessert time, the cake can be served with poached dried apricots or other fruit. Next month, when local strawberries are in season, add a bowl of ripe berries to the table.

Butter (for the pan)
Flour (for the pan)
3 1/4 cups flour (sift flour before measuring)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup thick buttermilk (whisk thoroughly before measuring)
3 tablespoons sour cream

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Lightly butter a straight-sided one-piece 10-inch tube pan, line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper, butter the paper, and dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. In a bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.

3. In an electric mixer, cream the butter at medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Add the sugar in 3 additions, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Blend in the vanilla.

4. With the mixer set on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Blend in the sour cream. Scrape down the bowl often with a rubber spatula.

5. Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake is clean when withdrawn. The baked cake will pull away slightly from the sides of the pan.

6. Set the cake on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto another cooling rack, peel away the parchment paper, then invert again to cool completely right side up.

FILLING AND GLAZE

1 1/4 cups apricot preserves
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)
1. In a small saucepan, combine the apricot preserves, lemon juice, and water. Stir well, Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture comes to a simmer. Lower the heat and let the mixture bubble for 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.

2. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

3. Using a serrated knife, carefully halve the cake horizontally. Using 2 spatulas, lift off the top. Spread half the warm glaze on the bottom half. Replace the top. Brush the remaining glaze on top of the cake.

4. Just before serving, dust the top of the glazed cake with confectioners' sugar. Cut into thick slices.

Lisa Yockelson