This moist apricot cake will please all the fans of tangy desserts. Especially those who like effortless recipes because, as the title suggests, this is the easiest fruit cake I know. First of all, it requires no kneading, no mixing, no butter melting… and if you make it once, you will remember the ingredients’ amounts for the rest of your life: it’s roughly one cup of everything (well, apart from the baking powder and salt). It is also original since it’s constructed with “scattered” layers of loose “dough” bound by the fresh fruit’s juice. Last but not least, it is one of the most irresistible, addictive cakes I know.
This might be the laziest cake recipe I know, and yet the result is impressive: a sweet, very moist, buttery cake with a crunchy top, divided with tangy soft, fruit layers… I admit the above messy portion might not look very attractive, but isn’t the taste crucial in home-made pastry? Actually, I enjoy its clumsy, obviously homey look and the occasional difficulty to cut it into neat portions adds a certain charm, which reminds me of fruit crumbles. When I serve it to someone for the first time I also make people guess the ingredients: no one has ever suspected this cake contains a big amount of semolina! (By the way, I don’t advise revealing this ingredient before the cake is tasted: many people are put off by semolina, especially in sweet dishes).
I don’t think you will remember, but I posted an apple version of this cake two years ago (see below) and haven’t replaced apples with any other fruit for years. Now I have realised apricots are even easier to work with because you don’t need to peel them or grate them (chopping is enough) and they add this fabulous bright orange colour. Actually now I think I prefer the taste of this summer version too. In case you don’t have access to apricots, here is a link to the apple version (as you see this one was easier to cut):
Of course you can experiment this cake with different fruits, but they have to fulfill certain conditions. First of all, they must be soft and juicy (figs, for example, might not work here). You also need to use fresh or frozen fruit (not canned, dried, no jams, sauces etc.) because their juice binds the lower layers of the cake. Mr. Three-Cookies has however braved these conditions and created a luscious-looking Banana Version with an additional cake “moisturiser”. Click here to admire his creativity.
Since apricots are (at least here) at their peak season, you find these recipes useful:
TIPS: If you serve it to anyone for the first time, do not mention it’s a semolina cake! People get scared and/or put off the mere mention of semolina (in any recipe, but especially a cake), so some of them will decide they don’t like it before they taste and… they won’t like it, of course.
Unless your health condition doesn’t allow you to eat butter, do not replace it with any margarine. One of the biggest advantages of this cake is its buttery taste and you will certainly feel the difference if you replace it. I have never prepared it with any oil, so I cannot give any advice here.
The smaller the baking dish is, the higher the cake will be, but the minimum diameter is 20 cm (about 8 in).
This is the only recipe where I am happier to use measuring cups and I discourage all my European friends from weighing the ingredients. Cups make this cake much easier and practically impossible to forget. My measuring cup = 250 ml.
Preparation: 1 h 30
Ingredients (1 cup = 250 ml):
1,2 – 1,5 kg (2,5 – 3 lbs) apricots
1 cup semolina
1 cup flour
1 cup dark cane sugar (I have used muscovado, which is dark moist sugar; in general I prefer dark sugar with apricots)
1,5 heaped teaspoon baking powder
70 – 100 g/2,5-4 oz butter
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Remove the apricot stones and chop the flesh.
Combine the flour, the semolina, the salt, the baking powder and the sugar, stirring well with a spoon.
Grease a baking dish (the smaller it is the higher the cake will be, the minimum diameter is 20 cm/about 8 in).
Sprinkle 1/3 of the dough mixture into the dish.
Cover with half of the chopped apricots.
Sprinkle another 1/3 of the “dough”.
Cover with the remaining apricots.
Sprinkle the rest of the dough mixture.
Cover the top of the cake with very thin butter slices, so that it covers the whole surface.
Bake until golden brown (it took me one hour but it depends on the oven).
Serve cold. (It keeps several days in the fridge. The top will no longer be so crunchy after you have chilled the cake, but it will still be delicious).