i found an old recipe book circa about 1950-1960 (there's no date printed in the book) in my local op shop last week..when i was reading it i came across a recipe for 'apple cakes' that transported me back to the wonderful fruit filled summers of my childhood..
we had many fruit trees growing in my childhood garden but the one that invokes the strongest and most poignant memories is that of the apricot tree..early on in the season it was festooned in luscious orbs that we were encouraged to eat as snacks or after meals if we wanted something sweet..then later in the season i can picture the ground covered in apricots at varying stages of disintegration with multitudes of bees buzzing frenetically about the pulpy orange mass..
my mother's lamentations about her fear of waste would be the same each summer as she picked the early apricots for bottling and then as she valiantly tried to salvage as much of the fruit on the ground possible..this she turned into various sweet edibles such as delicious ice blocks which she served to us in flat bottomed icecream cones..another sweet she made were little apricot filled cakes with a simple lemon icing..
the reason the apple cakes evoked my childhood so strongly was because they sounded so much like the apricot cakes my mother made..i vowed this week to buy some fresh apricots and make them to see if the recipe was as i remember it but unfortunately my greengrocer didn't have any australian apricots..so, remembering that my mother also used dried apricots for this recipe, i bought some juicy looking australian dried apricots instead of imported fruit..
apricot cake recipe (with australian dried apricots)
280 gms self raising flour
113 gms butter
85 gms sugar
1 tbs milk
approx 20 apricots
apricot jam (i used home made apricot and brandy jam)
1/4 cup of pure icing sugar
heat oven to 180 deg c
grease a shallow patty pan tray
put apricots in a saucepan with a little water and about 2-3 tbs sugar and cook with a lid over low heat, adding water if needed, until the fruit is softened..check for sweetness as the apricots soften and add extra to taste..put aside to cool while preparing the pastry..
mix flour and salt and either rub in butter by hand or in a food processor
beat egg and milk together and add to the dry ingredients and mix until it forms a ball (this is a very soft dough and because the weather is warm i proceeded in the following manner rather than as directed in the recipe book)
cut the pastry in two and put one half in the refrigerator while working on the other piece..
place the dough in between two pieces of baking paper and roll out thinly..cut 12 larger circles to fit the bases of the patty pans..carefully lift the circles with a spatula and place in the tray using a small piece of dough to press the dough into the cavities..place the tray in the fridge..
roll the second piece of pastry out in the same manner but cut 12 smaller circles to fit the top of the tarts..place the circles of dough in the fridge..
remove the tray from the fridge and place half a teaspoon of apricot jam in the base of each pastry shell..then add an apricot..remove pastry lids from the fridge..wet the edges of the lids with a little water and press them gently onto the pastry bases..make a small incision in each lid..
bake for 25-30 minutes or until well browned
allow the cakes to cool a little in the tins and then remove them and set aside to cool..
mix the icing sugar and lemon juice to a thick but manageable consistency and ice the apricot cakes when cooled..
these apricot cakes are similar to those that my mother made but the pastry is different..next time i will make them with a sweetened short crust pastry because i have a feeling that's what she would have used..but having said that this version is highly acceptable..