Individual apricot upside-down cakes

by Jeanne on May 31, 2008

in Dessert, Recipes - baking, Waiter, there's something in my...

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What is it with South Africans and apricots?

The jam you are most likely to find in a South African’s pantry is apricot jam.  In fact, I think until I was about ten years old, I wasn’t sure that there was anonther type of jam!  And you know you are in a South African supermarket when there are more makes and variations of apricot jam than any other flavour.  Chunky, smooth, with booze, whole fruit – it’s all there.  As I have said before, my father does not believe it is proper to have a braai without serving triangles of white bread spread thickly with butter and apricot jam. And we do love to melt our smooth apricot jam and use it in marinades and basting sauces, much to the bemused stares of foreigners.

As a kid, I recall that the fruity treats most likely to find their way into my lunchbox were dried apricots (or sometimes apple rings), or dried apricot fruit dainties (minced dried fruit shaped into flattish squares and dusted with sugar) or apricot fruit roll (minced fruit spread out into a wafer-thin paste and dried and rolled up).  And let’s not forget our cullinary tradition of cooking dried fruit with meat (lamb sosaties with apricots, for example), inherited from the Middle-Eastern political prisoners banished to South Africa by the Dutch East-India Company during the 1700s.

I suppose that dried apricots (and fruit in  general) was a logical step in a country where deciduous fruit grows easily and the climate is dry enough to dry things easily.  In the days before refrigeration, it was necessary to preserve the bounty of summer fruit for the winter months, and as a provision station for ships rounding the tip of Africa, it was not surprising that South Africa has a long tradition of drying fruit.  It is said that the drying and preserving of fruit at the Cape received a skills boost when the French Huguenots arrived in the late 1600s, and dried fruit was to be ource of nourishment when the Great Trek departed into the largely barren and unknown interior in the 1830s.

So coming from this context, you could almost say that this month’s Waiter, There’s Something in My… event, hosted by Andrew and focusing on dried fruit and nuts, was tailor-made for this South African girl!  My first thought was to make one of our wonderful traditional fruit/meat dishes, but I have already blogged my three favourites (bobotie with sultanas, lamb sosaties with dried apricots, and venison pie with dried peaches).  And so my thoughts turned to something sweet that I could make with dried fruit for WTSIM and that would also serve as dessert for a Bank Holiday braai for friends.  I have been somewhat obsessed with upside-down desserts lately – after the glorious pear and cranberry upside down cake I made earlier this year, I was keen to try another take on this idea.  I did consider just using the same batter recipe again and just changing the fruit topping, but in the end the batter I made for these little cakes was far lighter and fluffier, and its sweetness worked beautifully with the tart apricots and pineapple juice.  The original recipe on Myrecipes.com was for a single cake, so I made some tweaks in order to convert it to individual cakes, and also found a use for the pineapple juice that you use to soak the apricots.  I was very, very happy with the end result and will definitely be making these.  They taste lovely, they look lovely – and they will certainly impress your guests!

We had fewer than six people round the table, so I used the extra ingredients after all the ramekins were full to make one slightly larger square cake, which is what is pictured below – and which was as delightful served cold the following day.

20080524 ApricotUpsideDownPudSquareIB 20080524 ApricotUpsideDownPudSquare2B

INDIVIDUAL DRIED APRICOT UPSIDE-DOWN CAKES (serves 6)

Ingredients

1¼  cups pineapple juice
¾  cup dried apricots, quartered 20080524 ApricotUpsideDownPudFromAboveB
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp chopped almonds
¾ cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ + ¼  cup granulated sugar, divided
1/3 cup of milk
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large egg whites at room temperature

Method

Lightly butter the inside of six oven-proof ramekins and then line with baking paper (I found it was easiest to cut circles for the bases and strips for the sides, rather than to try and use a single piece).  Preheat oven to 180C.

Combine the pineapple juice and apricots in a small saucepan.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 8 minutes or until plump. Drain the apricots in a colander over a bowl, reserving the pineapple juice.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Set aside 1 Tbsp in a small bowl for later.  Add 1/3 cup of the reserved pineapple juice and brown sugar to the butter in the saucepan and bring to the boil.  Cook for about 1 minute or until the mixture thickens slightly.

Carefully divide the caramel sauce between the six ramekins.  Pour the sauce into the base of the ramekin and gently swirl to get an even layer.  Sprinkle the apricots and almonds over the caramel sauce and set aside.

Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, milk, egg yolk, and vanilla to the melted butter and stir well. Add to flour mixture, stirring well; set aside.

Beat the egg whites at high speed of a mixer until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks almost form. Gently stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into batter; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture.

Carefully pour batter over the caramel apricot mixture in the ramekins.  Bake at 180°C for about 30 minutes or until a wooden tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean.  In the meanwhile, return the saucepan with the reserved pineapple juice to the stove on medium heat and reduce to a syrupy consistency.

After removing the cakes from the oven, allow to stand for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then carefully invert each ramekin onto an individual serving plate.  Lift the ramekin carefully – it should come away from the cake easily – and peel off the baking paper.  Pour a little of the pineapple juice syrup over each pudding and serve with a blob of double cream (I also scattered some crushed pistachio nuts over mine, but this is optional).

If you hadn’t guessed yet, this is my entry for Waiter, There’s Something in my… Dried Fruit and Nuts, hosted by Andrew.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

nina June 2, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Sadly it is not only Typepad that has the occasional problem. I am with Blogger and the other day I change to a .com site and all of a sudden my comments also came to an halt. Thank goodness it is slowly returning to normal. I love all the recipes – the aubergine dip looks simply sublime.
I use apricot jam in my curries and it is an essential ingredient in Jan Ellis Pudding. I hear from the
ladies over at Taste Magazine that they got hold of you. If you appear in the magazine and me not…think of me in paradise…… I am in the process of changing my templates, but Oh my gosh I struggle – html and I are not friends. I just don’t get it. Do you have any advise on feeds, readers, bookmarks and Sharing – I don’t even get – Bloggingfordummies……. You can email me if you do not want to write such a long comment.

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Kit June 2, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Apricot jam is our number one larder filler and bread spreader here too.My mother-in-law used to live in Robertson, where there were six mature apricot trees in the back garden, so she made apricot jam in self-defence. Here we only have one young tree and sadly have to buy in apricots in the season to make enough jam to last out the year.
These look like a wonderful dessert. I’m still wanting to make your pear and cranberry upside down cake recipe – now pears are in here I’ll give it a go.

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Kit June 2, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Apricot jam is our number one larder filler and bread spreader here too.My mother-in-law used to live in Robertson, where there were six mature apricot trees in the back garden, so she made apricot jam in self-defence. Here we only have one young tree and sadly have to buy in apricots in the season to make enough jam to last out the year.
These look like a wonderful dessert. I’m still wanting to make your pear and cranberry upside down cake recipe – now pears are in here I’ll give it a go.

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nina June 2, 2008 at 2:13 pm

I tried earlier to leave a comment with no luck..and yes, I used the new links. I use apricot jam in my curries and it is also a vital ingredient in Jan Ellis pudding. Your dessert looks fabulous.
I spoke to Nicci at the TASTE magazine and she said that she got hold of you. If you make it to the magazine and me not…think of me in paradise.
I am with blogger and recently changed over to a .com and my comments also disappeared. It is slowly returning to normal. I was wondering if I could ask you a fe questions – I think you understand html and other blogging issues, me…clearly not. All the links in your sidebar re. Bhef’s blogs, Stumble upon etc, I am registered with all of them, but then what????? Also the Google reader, how does it work. You can see that I am a challenge for Bloggingfordummies. You can email me if you want. I will appreciate your help.

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Kalyn June 2, 2008 at 3:39 pm

Sorry to hear about the issues with Typepad. What a drag. Blogger is acting a bit weird recently too. I feel so powerless when something like this happens!

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Fearless Kitchen June 2, 2008 at 4:34 pm

This looks fabulous! It looks almost intimidatingly complex on first glance, but once I got over that “eek-upside-down-cake-what-do-I-do?” feeling it definitely looks doable.
Sorry about your TypePad issues, I’m having a whole different set of problems with them right now. It sounds like it’s pretty pervasive, though, based on all the people on Blogger who are having troubles too. Good luck!

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ilva June 2, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Great, finally I can comment! This recipe is so inspiring, I can feel how my brain started to move when I read your post! Thans!

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Super Sarah June 3, 2008 at 5:52 am

Yay! I tried to comment yesterday but no luck. These upside down cakes are EXACTLY what I was trying to describe when I commented on your chicken ala king post. These little cakes made on a giant scale in the biggest KOO tins and voila, Elephants Dropping pudding served with lashings of custard. Our boarding school dining room tables were seated with a mix of ages, the benefit of being the oldest on the table was you could serve the dessert, this meant you could save your own serving for last and take the biggest scoop of sticky apricot jam and sponge cake. I am going to make your recipe this week!

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My Sweet & Saucy June 4, 2008 at 10:08 pm

I love that you made it into an individual size…it looks just adorable!

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My Sweet & Saucy June 4, 2008 at 10:08 pm

I love that you made it into an individual size…it looks just adorable!

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My Sweet & Saucy June 4, 2008 at 10:08 pm

I love that you made it into an individual size…it looks just adorable!

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cookinpanda June 5, 2008 at 11:25 am

Great little cakes. The apricot-ness sounds enticing.

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Susan June 9, 2008 at 3:55 pm

They are charming. Too clever to bake them in ramekins! Beautiful idea. I like apricot jam far better than grape jelly, probably the most ubiquitous jar of fruit in the American cupboard.

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Susan from Food Blogga June 10, 2008 at 2:50 pm

These look divine, Jeanne. I recently made a cherry and peach upside-down cake. There is something remarkably comforting about these upside-down cakes; they always remind me of home.

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Carolyn July 4, 2008 at 5:10 am

Jeanne, Just blown away by your ‘Blog’ – came across is by default this am ( I am in South Australia). I belong to Funky Monkey’s (Peter Thomas from South Africa) Yahoo Group! I was thrilled to see that Peter hit 3rd place in the Top Site ratings recently – interested to see who beat him, I clicked onto your site – so glad I did – I don’t have Typekey or Typepad so I hope this comment gets to you – I have applied for your newsletter.
We, as a family are orginally from England – Chelsea to be precise – born and bred – both of us, me in Edith Grove and my husband in the buildings on Beaufort Street, adjacent to Battersea Bridge; Married at Chelsea Old Church, Cheyne Walk almost 49 years ago ( one would get less for murder as you would know being a Lawyer lol. Had 2 children, moved to Sussex, loved it then Idi Iman decided on his own type of genocide and moved literally thousands of British Passport owners out of the Country and where these people landed they generally stayed – so being near Gatwick Airport our little sleepy Country Town was deluged with immigrants – I will not go into the reasons we decided to leave England just to say it was the BEST move we have ever made. I diverse – sorry.
I have a great love of food, my grandmother taught me – during wartime London- and lessons I learnt from her have never been forgotten – I still can’t work with metrics!!!! I have attempted several times to write a cookery book – almost got there a couple of years back, but being a novice with computers ( at 66 years it IS hard to teach old dogs new tricks) and I didn’t back up my work and hey presto overnight everything I had dilergently typed, sourced and printed was lost – hey ho – perhaps one day I will get back to it. My two sons – now in their 40′s are heavily into the Restaurant World here in the Antibides – my son in Sydney had, up until recently 2 restaurants in Darlinghurst – he sold the ‘silver service’ one a couple of months ago – loads of prestige but not enough money and now owns an Asian takeout venue which is going great guns with half of the costs. My eldest son decided at 13 he would be a chef and so he is – he and his wife owned their own restaurant in the Barossa Valley (great wines) for 8 years- sadly the toll was too much on the family – it was a case of either family or business, family came first and the restaurant closed, he wouldn’t sell it!! He was head hunted and had several positions before he settled down a couple of years ago – here in the Barossa Valley, where he is now the Executive Chef at Appellation (the name of the in house restaurant) for Pepper’s Louise – grab a look at the website when time permits. OK enough diatribe for the time being – hope I haven’t bored you to bits. Look forward to more blogs from you when you return from your Sojourn – looks to me like somewhere between Austria and the Swiss Mountains.
Great Cooking
Regards
Carolyn – Adelaide South Australia.

Reply

Carolyn July 4, 2008 at 5:11 am

Jeanne, Just blown away by your ‘Blog’ – came across is by default this am ( I am in South Australia). I belong to Funky Monkey’s (Peter Thomas from South Africa) Yahoo Group! I was thrilled to see that Peter hit 3rd place in the Top Site ratings recently – interested to see who beat him, I clicked onto your site – so glad I did – I don’t have Typekey or Typepad so I hope this comment gets to you – I have applied for your newsletter.
We, as a family are orginally from England – Chelsea to be precise – born and bred – both of us, me in Edith Grove and my husband in the buildings on Beaufort Street, adjacent to Battersea Bridge; Married at Chelsea Old Church, Cheyne Walk almost 49 years ago ( one would get less for murder as you would know being a Lawyer lol. Had 2 children, moved to Sussex, loved it then Idi Iman decided on his own type of genocide and moved literally thousands of British Passport owners out of the Country and where these people landed they generally stayed – so being near Gatwick Airport our little sleepy Country Town was deluged with immigrants – I will not go into the reasons we decided to leave England just to say it was the BEST move we have ever made. I diverse – sorry.
I have a great love of food, my grandmother taught me – during wartime London- and lessons I learnt from her have never been forgotten – I still can’t work with metrics!!!! I have attempted several times to write a cookery book – almost got there a couple of years back, but being a novice with computers ( at 66 years it IS hard to teach old dogs new tricks) and I didn’t back up my work and hey presto overnight everything I had dilergently typed, sourced and printed was lost – hey ho – perhaps one day I will get back to it. My two sons – now in their 40′s are heavily into the Restaurant World here in the Antibides – my son in Sydney had, up until recently 2 restaurants in Darlinghurst – he sold the ‘silver service’ one a couple of months ago – loads of prestige but not enough money and now owns an Asian takeout venue which is going great guns with half of the costs. My eldest son decided at 13 he would be a chef and so he is – he and his wife owned their own restaurant in the Barossa Valley (great wines) for 8 years- sadly the toll was too much on the family – it was a case of either family or business, family came first and the restaurant closed, he wouldn’t sell it!! He was head hunted and had several positions before he settled down a couple of years ago – here in the Barossa Valley, where he is now the Executive Chef at Appellation (the name of the in house restaurant) for Pepper’s Louise – grab a look at the website when time permits. OK enough diatribe for the time being – hope I haven’t bored you to bits. Look forward to more blogs from you when you return from your Sojourn – looks to me like somewhere between Austria and the Swiss Mountains.
Great Cooking
Regards
Carolyn – Adelaide South Australia.

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