(Photo c/o Chrystal Baker)
Hey, friends! Let’s keep it truly real for a moment. I haven’t had time to blog this week at all. Life on the islands has called and I’m tending to jumping off 40 feet waterfalls in the mountains of the Caribbean. That left me in a bind and begging to rely on one of my blogging life lines to fill in for me. Fortunately, Chrystal of The Duo Dishes, came to the rescue! Not surprised. With spotty Internet connection and hit or miss conversations on Twitter, we were able to have a brief exchange and bring you this post of high yum while I’m traveling. If you don’t know Chrsytal and her cooking partner, Amir, I invite you to! She’s become a good friend of mine on and off-line and am thankful she was able to conjure up something I’d probably not play around with! And everything else they do is just right. This just looks too good for my waistline right now, so I’m thankful she made it and not I. B-
By Chrystal Baker
Right now, Bren of is glistening by the beaches of the Dominican Republic, while we’re sweating like pigs on a roast here in Southern California. It’s very obvious that the latter does not sound as fun. You know what it’s like when you’re a blogger on vacation. With all of the demands of life and work, one of the last things you usually do is prepare several meals and posts that will then end up on your blog during your absence. The point is to be on vacation…and to thoroughly enjoy it! That’s exactly what Bren is doing right now, so she needed a little help this week and asked for a guest post.
Although Amir has never met Bren, she and I have developed a nice friendship over the years. It began just like many blogging relationships do–you chat online, email, tweet and Facebook back and forth, perhaps hang out at a conference. Eventually, you find that you know a bit more about them than just what their most recent post was on the blog. You know more about their families, their friends, their work life, their weekend activities and so on. You also don’t mind doing them a favor because you want to help. That’s why I knew this certain dessert would be just the recipe to share in my friend’s time of need!
The funny thing about this recipe is that it was made for the first time last year. Late last summer to be exact. Thanks to Bren’s call for help, it’s now time to share it with you. We served this treat at our second seafood boil, which, if you haven’t heard by now, is coming up at the end of August. We spend an afternoon near the water eating mounds of shrimp, clams, mussels, crabs, lobster, oysters and crawfish near a grill or fire pit. It’s a day of sun and fun, fish and sometimes fowl. I am one who cannot go without dessert, and so we must have sweets. At that time, I had a bevy of apricots. I am an unlucky lady when it comes to snagging great apricots. I found the ones in my possession to be fair, but not amazing, so I figured they could be saved if buried under the seductive grab of butter, flour and sugar. Dessert, of course.
For some reason, I was on a German kick. Amir and I were researching ideas for our next Ethnic Exploration series, and I clicked through webpage after webpage and flipped through a few cookbooks as well. The one that stood out immediately was the kuchen. The word simply means cake, so don’t get too excited. There are many types of kuchen. Some are similar to our American coffee cakes, others are more like filled logs of baked and sliced dough. You can slather them with icing or stuff others with quark, a traditional farmers cheese. There are kuchen with yeast doughs, and there are kuchen with creamy custards. The one that struck me immediately was the peach kuchen with a baked custard topping over a thick crust. Apricots were an easy substitute. An excited decision was quickly made. With almost all of the ingredients on hand, it felt like a go-to pantry dessert that you could make with almost any fruit.
(Photo c/o Chrystal Baker)
To be fair, you should understand that the kuchen you see below is the second attempt, so that we would have a right on recipe to share. The first one was good, but it wasn’t as sweet as I’d like. This one has been tweaked to taste. If you prefer your desserts a bit farther from the sweet side or if you’d like to serve this as a breakfast option, reduce the sugar in the crust, omit the extra sugar sprinkled over the raw apricots or skip the final step of dusting the unbaked custard with sugar. You could also try a drizzle of honey over the raw apricots if that’s more your style. Test this dessert with any of the summer’s super stone fruits–apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums. You should have success no matter what.
Even if we can’t be in the Dominican Republic right now, we can all enjoy some serious sweetness in our lives.
- 2 cups flour
- 2/3 cup plus 1/8 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Zest of 1 orange
- 3/4 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes, plus extra to grease the pan
- 9 large apricots, halved, pitted and patted dry or 30 ounces canned apricots, drained and patted dry
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Grease a 9" springform cake pan with some of the extra butter or baking spray. Set aside.
2. Begin with the cake crust. In a large bowl or food processor, combine the flour, the 2/3 cup brown sugar, baking powder, orange zest and salt until incorporated. Cut in the butter, or pulse if using a food processor, until the mixture comes together to form a uniform dough. Evenly press into the bottom and about 1 1/2" up the sides of the greased pan.
3. Once the apricots are dry, spread them cut-side up along the crust. Sprinkle the other 1/8 cup of brown sugar over the apricots. Slide the cake into a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven.
4. As the cake bakes, whip up the custard. Whisk together the sour cream, eggs, heavy cream, vanilla and orange juice. Once the cake is out of the oven, pour the egg and sour cream custard over the apricots, then sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar on top of the custard. Slide the cake back into the oven and continue baking for another 25-35 minutes or until set and the top has browned. (It's OK if the very middle is ever so slightly jiggly. That part will set as the cake cools. Just be sure the outer edges have definitely set.) Cool completely before serving.