According to the German food page at about.com Apricot cake is as common in Germany as the Toll House Cookie is in America. That said, this recipe then is one that all good German cooks must know and perfect. It is not too far a leap in logic to assume that quality of one’s apricot cake is a measure of the quality of one’s skills.
My Grandfather made a plum cake that was absolute Heaven in a 9 x 13 pan. And he preferred apricot preserves for all of his baking glazes. But he never made us an apricot cake.With this recipe I’ve used plumcots to get the plum cake my grandfather made and the apricots the recipe calls for.
Plumcots are a hybrid of plums and apricots and a source of contention for hybrid growers, marketers and farmers. Plumcots and Pluots are interchangeable varieties of a plum apricot hybrid to the masses. But not to aficionados. The gory details of their growing history can be parsed at slate.com. Counting myself among the mass of grocery shoppers, the only thing that is really important to note is that these fruits are more plum than apricot.
The skin is smooth and plummy, the flesh is firmer than plum and the flavor is definitely more plum but with an apricot tang on the finish. The plumcots are also cheaper by the pound in my area than either apricots or plums. So this is the cake we get as it calls for a pound and a half of fruit. Two pounds were 2.69 at ALDI. I like to think that Grampa would be impressed with the finished product as much as the price. Here’s hoping that it gets more than a 1.5 from the German judges.
In addition to substituting plumcots for apricots, I had to improvise the citrus and the baking powder. I only had limes in the house as the lemons didn’t look like a good buy. One lime will do. Lime has a stronger flavor than you would think when all is mixed together. So one normal sized lime, wholly zested is plenty.
Buttermilk is not something that I buy regularly. And I wasn’t thinking about it at all when I decided on this cake. Note to self: German recipes use a lot of buttermilk! So I juiced the lime I zested and used that as a buttermilk Substitute by adding one tablespoon of juice to my measuring cup and filling up to the one cup line with whole milk. Do this right before you start to mix the ingredients. By the time you reach the point of adding the buttermilk to the batter it should have the right acidity.
This recipe also calls for German Baking powder which is a double acting powder rather than the standard single acting we typically use in America. What’s the difference? Essentially the amount of carbon dioxide released in the process. So for this recipe I used 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Yes, oddly enough I did have THAT on hand.
Now that the substitutions are underway it is time to make the cake batter.
Cut your fruits in half and pit them.
Grease and flour your pan. Almost all of the German cakes I see require a Springform pan. I bought a Euro model at ALDI this Winter. You might have seen them on the Great British Baking Show. The platform is indented and the ring sits in the indent. When you lock the ring into position there is a lip around the bottom of the tin. I LOVE THIS FEATURE! If you bake a cheesecake that wants to run over the drips are caught in the pan before they hit the oven floor. It is genius! I still have my American pans. But I totally love this new one. And…. it makes a pretty though rustic serving dish unlike the American style which is usually covered in cake.
- 10 tablespoons soft Buter
- 2/3 cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 3 Eggs
- Zest from one lemon
- 2 cups Flour
- 2 teaspoon double acting baking powder
- 1 cup Buttermilk or Sour Milk*
Cream the butter with sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the zest.
In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients. Beat this into the egg mixture until well combined. Add the milk. Mix well. * original recipe called for 1/4 cup milk. I made the substitution recipe and inadvertently used the whole cup. I got a taller cake that was dense and less flakey than the German variety would have been. It was still delicious, the flavors all popped and it definitely spread better in the pan.
Spread into the baking pan and tap out the air bubbles that might be trapped. Place plumcots on top of batter, cut side down, in a radiating pattern.
Bake at 350° for 30-40 Minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack.
You’ll notice my fruits are cut side up. This is a gorgeous presentation and if you were using APRICOTS then yes do this. Plumcot skins are smooth and the batter won’t grip them well. When your fork slices into the cake the fruit pops right off! This is why in the recipe I recommend turning them skin up. Hopefully the skins will cook better in the direct heat soften enough to cooperate with the fork.
Rather than measure out fruit by weight, I like to use what will fit in the pan. As you can guess I only used half of what was in the first picture above. And I did use an apricot glaze just because the cake didn’t really get all that golden brown on its own. This probably is due to all the milk that I used.
The basic batter and your choice of fruit is all you need for a sweet Summer cake.