Apricot and almond is a marriage made in cake heaven

Aromatic marzipan flavour of the almond extract in the sponge and amaretti gives this cake a soothing note

Apricot and amaretti streusel cake.

Apricot and amaretti streusel cake.

 

Apricots are such a beautiful summer fruit, plump and soft and so intensely flavoured. If you happen to have a few that aren’t at their ripest, try roasting them. The roasting process softens them perfectly and concentrates their intense honeyed flavour, resulting in soft and sticky little mouthfuls of sweet but slightly tangy flesh.

Roast apricots make for a speedy dessert, served with pillowy cream and a crushed biscuit of some sort for texture; a simple but perfect end to a meal. I also eat them on toast, still warm from the oven and piled high onto toasted brioche with a smear of orange-scented ricotta. Not one for everyday, but a truly decadent treat.

Apricot and almond is a combination I bake with time and time again. It is classic and simple but effortlessly balanced. This week, I am blending the two to make a gorgeous apricot and amaretti streusel cake, perfect for afternoon tea. The base is a lovely light sponge with bright, orange-fleshed apricots baked into it and, on top, a streusel, or crumble topping, strewn with deliciously crunchy amaretti biscuits.

Soothing note

The aromatic marzipan flavour of the almond extract in the sponge and amaretti give this cake a soothing note, and while I often make my own amaretti biscuits, they are easier to find nowadays in supermarkets. Amaretti are little Italian mound-shaped biscuits made simply with egg whites, sugar and almonds, with a dash of almond extract to really emphasise the flavour.

If you don’t like that heady marzipan flavour (as I know quite a lot of people don’t), or you can’t find amaretti biscuits, you could leave them out altogether and replace them with another nut, such as hazelnut or walnut, or even oats, and just omit the extract in the sponge.

This cake is a delightful combination of light sponge, soft fruit and crumbly nuggets of streusel. Serve it with crème fraiche or softly whipped cream with a splash of Cointreau or orange zest stirred through it. It freezes incredibly well and will keep for two or three days once baked, but it is best served at room temperature.

This recipe also works beautifully with any stone fruit, whether you are using amaretti biscuits, oats or nuts in the streusel, so use peaches or plums if that’s what you have on hand.

Recipe: Apricot and amaretti streusel cake

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