With the weather still cool and grey outside, I’ve been letting my mind wander to sunnier days, especially memories from the beautiful island of Cyprus where I was lucky enough to spend a few years living in the small village of Bellapais, perched high in the Kyrenia mountain range, overlooking the olive groves and the ocean below.
If the ancient myths and legends are to be believed, Cyprus is the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite, and maybe it is for this reason that the island is so extraordinarily fertile. Tucked in the corner of ocean between Turkey, Egypt and the Middle East it would be reasonable to think that Cyprus would be dry and dusty, however, while it is incredibly hot in the summer, the gardens and orchards of Cyprus overflow with an abundance of produce.
As summer really gets to the hottest point, the local apricots come into season, the trees groaning and laden with fruit. Apricots for me are truly one of the symbols of summer, with their speckled red and orange tequila-sunrise coloured skin and soft and juicy flesh.
In Cyprus, when I wasn’t making Flaky Pastry Apricot Tarts , any apricots invariably found their way into this quick and delicious cake, a light and fluffy batter, studded with apricots and poppy seeds and brushed with honey. Perfect for whiling away an afternoon in the shade by the pool with a refreshing glass of limonata (or, this being Cyprus, a crisp rosé!) I can hear the cicadas now!
Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!
- 150 g sugar
- 4 eggs, large
- 175 ml neutral oil, (sunflower etc.)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp poppy seeds
- 400 g small, firm apricots, halved and de-stoned
for the glaze:
- 2 Tbsp runny honey
- 2 Tbsp dark rum
- icing / powdered sugar
- Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. Grease the sides and line the base of an approximately 20cm x 30cm deep-sided oven dish, leaving some baking paper overhanging at the two short ends of the tin - this will help you to lift it out later.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using an electric hand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs together for 5 minutes until thick and pale. While still beating, drizzle in the oil and vanilla extract and beat for another 2 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then sift over the wet mixture. I like to then remove the heather from the machine and use it by hand to mix the flour and wet mixture together until smooth and just combined. Stir in the poppy seeds, then pour into the prepared tin, smoothing the top with a spatula.
- Press the halved apricots, cut side up, into the batter. Depending on the exact size of your tin you may have a few left over but I usually get five rows of four apricot halves. Place the tin in the middle of the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until risen, golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Meanwhile, stir together the honey and rum in a small bowl.
- When you remove the hot cake from the oven, gently brush all over with the honey rum mixture, allowing it to absorb a little bit using it all up. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before lifting out to cool completely on a wire rack.
- When cool, remove the baking paper from the underside, dust generously with icing sugar and serve. As stated above, the cake will become moister over a day or two, but if you truly can’t wait, serve with a big dollop of yoghurt or whipped cream.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 714Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 166mgCarbohydrates: 95gFiber: 3gSugar: 61gProtein: 10g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long will Summertime Apricot Cake keep?
At least 2-3 days. All cakes with fresh fruit in them taste better on the day after they are made! The fruit has time to soften and moisten the cake. If you can’t wait that long, serve with plenty of whipped cream or yoghurt.
Can I use other fruit to make this cake?
This cake batter will work perfectly with other seasonal fruit, do leave the cut sides facing up when you bake it, it looks nicer and you won’t end up with any batter trapped underneath.
Can I make Summertime Apricot Cake without the rum?
Of course! If you don’t want to use any rum in the glaze, simply mix the honey with 1 tablespoon (15ml) hot water instead.