At the very first restaurant I worked at I was incredibly lucky to have been taken under the wing of the chef, who was unbareably talented. I’m fairly certain it had nothing to do with any talent I might have had and more to do with my bubbly 17 year old personality and my eagerness, my excitement, my glee to work 15 hours a day for well below minimum wage, but whatever the reasoning I will always be grateful.
I worked at the “garde manger” section, the cold side, the appetizers station, chopping vegetables, making aoilis and, joyfully once a week, I worked with the only other women in the kitchen in pastries.
But most days I was generally doing bitch work, except when this kind chef would come over and ask me questions and make me think deep and hard about what I was doing, how it all tasted, and why things worked that did. It was during one of these conversations I learnt about the amazing combination of apricots with cardamon.
In fact, I had actually brought up the two together on a whim, and then he drilled me on my choice and made me very insecure, but when we made the cooked down the apricots, pushed them through a seive, sweetened them with honey and added some crushed cardamon pods I knew I was onto something. At that restaurant we smeared some of this jam on a plate and toped it with foie gras, but these days, simpler days, I just bake it all in a cake.
Cardamon Spiced Apricot Cake
1/2 cup Butter
2/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Honey
1 1/2 cup AP Flour
1 tsp Cardamon
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
2/3 cup Milk
10 Apricots, cut in half lengthwise and then each half cut into 3rds lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 325F
Butter and flour an 8 inch round baking pan.
In a medium bowl sift together the dry ingredients
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter, sugar and honey together until light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs one at a time beating well between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another minute.
Turn the mixer to the lowest setting and mix in one third of the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined then add half the milk. Continue like this until all ingredients are incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula. Put the apricots on the top of the cake in a flower pattern- starting from the outside and working in.
Bake the cake until an inserted skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs, about 35 minutes.
Allow to cool in the pan, carefully remove it, sprinkle with icing sugar and enjoy!