Belated Late Summer Apricots

Originally, I meant for this to be a late summer post with a sort of thrifty, make the most of this beautiful fruit before it’s gone theme.  However, autumn has crept up before I even quite knew what was happening, with its cooler air, yellows, oranges and ambers.  Yesterday I had to wrap up in a wooly scarf and saw the first pumpkins for sale in my greengrocer’s.  Last night’s pub trip tipple choices included mulled wine (although I find that shockingly premature).

It has been a busy time with work and lots of changes afoot.  Time has just slipped away before I’ve had a chance to get my head around it, so I’ve been pretty reluctant to give up summer.  We’re hoping (fingers and toes crossed… or hold your thumbs as we say in Sweden) to be moving across that great London divide, the Thames, before Christmas.  To a new home, new neighbourhood, new neighbours and hopefully, in time, a new kitchen.   It’s a lot of work, even for someone who has moved on average every other year of her life.

So the point is, I’m behind on the blog. So much so that seasons are flying past before I have time to post about them. I thought about saving these recipes for next year, but then realised that they all would work equally well made with plums, medlars or even figs, which are wonderful in the autumn.  Or save them for next August/September. 

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Apricot and Coconut Tart

This recipe is based on one by Donna Hay, but uses a gluten free pastry made out of coconut flour. 

You will need:

For the pastry
125g coconut flour
75g coconut oil
1 whole egg and 1 yolk
1.5 tbsp maple syrup

For the filling
2 egg whites
75g desiccated coconut
55g caster sugar
8-10 apricots, pitted and quartered
whipped cream and flaked coconut, to serve

 Method:

1.  To make the pastry, sift the coconut flour into a large bowl with a pinch of salt.  Slowly melt the coconut oil in a small pan over a low heat, then add to the flour along with the whole egg and yolk, maple syrup and about 3 tbsp of cold water.  Mix to form a crumbly dough and chill for about 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/160 F/Gas Mark 4.  The dough will be difficult to roll out, but you can press it into a loose-bottomed or fluted tin, about 24cm in diameter, using your fingers to spread out.  Chill until needed. 

3.  To make the filling, whisk the egg whites until frothy.  Add the coconut and sugar and mix well.  Spread over the base of the coconut pastry and scatter over the apricots.  Bake for 16-20 mins until the pastry is golden and the filling is cooked.  Allow to cool and scatter with flaked coconut and serve with lot of whipped cream.

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As I mentioned, this was supposed to be a thrifty post, filled with ways to use up an abundance of late summer stone fruits.  This apricot kernel ice cream is a perfect example.  It may sound strange, but the inner kernels of apricot or peach stones give a lovely, almond-like flavour that works particularly well in ice cream.  The stones also keep well, so you can collect them as you go.  I haven’t tried making this with plum kernels, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that worked too.

Apricot Kernel Ice Cream
Adapted from Food 52.

You will need:
50 apricot stones
500ml whole milk
350ml double cream
300g golden caster sugar
7 egg yolks

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Method:

1. Wrap the apricot stones in a tea towel and use a mallet to crack open their outer shells and bash the kernels a fair bit into shards.  Place all the kernels in a large pan with the milk and cream and bring to a boil.  Pour into a jug or bowl and allow to cool, then place in the fridge overnight.

2.  The next day, bring to the boil again and simmer for a minute or two.  Place the sugar and yolks into a bowl and whisk by hand for a minute or so until frothy and light.  Sieve the milk mixture into the bowl and stir to combine.  Transfer back into the pan and stir over a medium heat until thick and custardy, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. 

3. Sieve back into the bowl and allow to cool completely then refrigerate for a few hours.  Churn in an ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s instructions.  Freeze until ready to eat.

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Classic Apricot Jam

This jam recipe is THE thing on a gum-cuttingly crusty baguette, slathered in salted butter.  But it has other uses too, swirled through greek yoghurt, topped with flaked almonds.  Or you could use it as a filling for tarts or jammy biscuits.  It would be wonderful topper for a vanilla cheesecake.

You will need:
1kg fresh apricots
600g jam sugar
knob of butter

Method:

1.  Wash and drain the apricots well, then halve and remove the stones.  Place in a large jamming pan with the sugar, mix well and cover and set aside for a good few hours. 

2. Tip the fruit into a large pan and slowly bring to a simmer, allowing all the sugar to dissolve.  Bring to a rolling boil and allow to bubble away for 5 mins, then use the saucer method to see if the jam has reached setting point.  Take off the heat and add a knob of butter, stirring to melt and disperse any foam.  Transfer into sterilised jars, seal and store in a cool spot. 

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Now here’s a recipe that will work at any time of year and with any summer jam you’ve got an excess of – a perfect treat for when those wonderful  fruits are no longer available.  The cake is super moist and not too sweet, which is why the syrupy jam works so well here.   It goes a bit sticky and carmelised when dotted on the top of a cake like this, which I love.  I urge you to try it!

Apricot Jam and Ricotta Cake

You will need:
250g ricotta
100ml extra virgin olive oil
200g golden caster sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
200g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 jar apricot jam, plus a little extra

1.  Preheat the oven to 175C/150 Fan/Gas 4.  Grease a 22cm loose-bottomed cake tin and dust with flour. 

2. Beat together the ricotta, oil, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl until smooth and runny.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.  Add to the ricotta mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Scrape the cake batter into the cake tin and gently smooth over.  Dot teaspoonfulls of the jam over the top of the batter, swirling in slightly.  Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

4. While the cake is cooking, mix a tablespoonfull of the jam with a little hot water.  Once the cake comes out of the oven, lightly brush with the mixture and then place on a wire rack to cool completely before releasing out of its tin.  Serve straightaway with a dollop of yoghurt or creme fraiche.

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