14 August 2009

Apricots!




My neighbor called me to let me know that the apricots on her tree were ready to make into jam, and told me to come get some. Hooray! I love apricot jam! I went over today to pick my first batch for jam making, and went to the store to get more jars. (I filled all I had with blueberry jam last month.) Another friend is letting me borrow her food dehydrator, so I will be drying a bunch, too.

This first batch of apricots was photographed in some of my beautiful pottery bowls made by the talented artist, Amy Palatnick. I will be featuring her later this month here in my blog. You can find her selling her work at the Saturday Market in Eugene, Oregon, or in her new shop on Etsy: www.amypalatnick.etsy.com






This recipe from Molly Katzen's Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook is my all-time favorite coffee cake recipe. I often make this cake for myself for my birthday, but both apricot jam and dried fruit are expensive, so I don't make it as often as I would like. And since my neighbor is sharing the fruits of her bountiful apricot tree, and I am making both jam and dried apricots, I will be making this coffee cake through the winter. Yum! :D


Russian Coffee Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature

Filling:
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup peach or apricot jam
1/2 cup dried apricots, minced

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously grease a standard-size tube or bundt pan.
2. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cream together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in the vanilla.
3. Sift together the flours, baking powder, soda, and salt into a separate medium-sized bowl.
4. Add the dry mixture and the buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture (dry/wet/dry/wet/dry). Mix just well enough to thoroughly blend after each addition. Don't beat or otherwise overmix.
5. Place the chocolate chips and almonds in a blender jar. Whirl together in short spurts until ground into a coarse powder. Combine this with the coconut in a small bowl.
6. Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan, gently spreading it until even. Spoon small amounts of jam here and there onto the batter. (Don't try to spread it - just leave it in little blobs.) Sprinkle on the apricots and about 2/3 of the chocolate-nut mix.
7. Add the remaining batter, distributing it nicely. Sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate mix, and bake the cake for 45-55 minutes - until a probing knife inserted all the way in comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.





My husband tells me that apricots are actually related to plums, and were first cultivated in India. They need a cold winters to produce fruit, and even temperatures for pollination. They tend to bloom around the Vernal equinox, and often the flowers are killed by Spring frosts. They do really well here in our sheltered mountain valley, and this year enjoyed warm temperatures while they were blooming, so there are a lot this year!

Last fall, my landlords came over to help me move compost in the garden, and there was one pile in the alley that was full of apricot pits (from the neighbor's tree). When I was weeding the beds this Spring, I saved some of the apricot starts, and planted them in a big pot. I plan on splitting them into their own pots this fall, and hope to nurture them long enough to plant them as small trees for future apricot crops.





When life gives you the pits, plant trees!
As always, thanks for stopping by!
~Pippi

1 comment:

The Beading Gem said...

Yumm, apricots! Wonder how long those apricot seedlings will take to grow big enough to fruit?