Making the most of the summer season’s stone fruits, I usually make several trays of this cake to eat on the spot or freeze for those dull winter days when I miss eating these fruits.
In fact, I brought a couple of slices along for my recent train trip from Vienna to Berlin. They travel well and were eyed up enviously by fellow passengers!
Austrians are crazy for apricots, but for good reasons, they are the best! What sets them apart is their plumpness and exquisite sweetness, which has no comparison to other varieties. I don’t speak much German, but the one word you will not get past noticing is Marillen (apricots) as it is everywhere at the shops, markets and on restaurant menus. You’ll find it in jam, syrups, inside sweet dumplings, marillenknödel, schnapps & liqueurs, drink cordial, chutneys, pickles, vinegar, in pastries and chocolate cakes like the famous Sacher cake, a savoury sauce to a meat dish or simply sold in abundance at the farmers’ markets in Spring and Summer.
It helps that apricots grow well in Austria, especially from the Wachau area (80 km west of Vienna) where the highly regarded white grape is also grown for Austria’s unique Grüner Veltliner wine. The soil in the Wachau valley is rich in loess; a silty soil known to be one of the most fertile in farming. Wachau lies along the Danube River, giving it that special microclimate to grow the best apricots in the world. In fact, the term “Wachau apricot” is a designation of origin protected by the EU. There’s even an annual Wachau apricot festival from July to August to honour the beloved marillen! If you ever come to Austria, try to come in Spring when some 100,000 apricot trees transform Wachau into a fragrant pink-white sea of blossom. You can easily visit Wachau by bicycle or on a river cruise through the region – the perfect way to enjoy this blossoming landscape in this wonderful part of the world!
For the cake:
- 180g butter, at room temperature
- 170g light brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 120g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (leave out if your store-bought flour already has xanthan gum)
- 150g ground almonds
- 50ml thick or Greek yoghurt
- 100ml milk
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Juice and zest of one orange
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ripe peaches, pitted and sliced in wedges
- 2 ripe apricots, pitted and sliced in wedges
- 2 ripe plums, pitted and sliced in wedges
- 45g slivered almonds, with skin or removed
For the glaze:
- Juice of one orange
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- Preparation time: 20 minutes
- Baking time: 40 minutes
- Mix the milk and lemon juice together. Cover and set aside to curdle slightly.
5. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time with a tablespoon of flour.
8. Gently spoon the cake mixture into the prepared cake pan.
9. Arrange the stone fruit slices and slivered almonds in your preferred pattern, otherwise, follow my arrangement as in the photo.
10. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
11. Gently heat the orange juice and jam in a small saucepan until the jam has melted. Whisk well and if necessary, sieve the warm mixture for a smooth glaze.
12. Using a pastry brush, brush the entire top of the cake.
- Makes 8 generous slices
- Keeps for 3 days
- Suitable to freeze cut in slices