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Apricot Almond Cake With Rosewater and Cardamom

by . Featured in SIMPLY NIGELLA
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Introduction

This is my idea of a perfect cake: simple, beautiful, fragrant and beguiling. This is invitingly easy to make, and while I love the poetry of its ingredients, the cake doesn’t overwhelm with its Thousand-and-One-Nights scent. Rosewater can be a tricky ingredient: a little, and it’s all exotic promise; a fraction too much and we’re in bubblebath territory.

One of the things that makes this so easy, is that you can throw all the ingredients into a food processor. But if you don’t have one, simply chop the prepared dried apricots and cardamom seeds very finely and then beat together with the remaining cake ingredients.

This is my idea of a perfect cake: simple, beautiful, fragrant and beguiling. This is invitingly easy to make, and while I love the poetry of its ingredients, the cake doesn’t overwhelm with its Thousand-and-One-Nights scent. Rosewater can be a tricky ingredient: a little, and it’s all exotic promise; a fraction too much and we’re in bubblebath territory.

One of the things that makes this so easy, is that you can throw all the ingredients into a food processor. But if you don’t have one, simply chop the prepared dried apricots and cardamom seeds very finely and then beat together with the remaining cake ingredients.

Apricot Almond Cake With Rosewater and Cardamom
Photo by Keiko Oikawa

Ingredients

Yields: 8-10 slices

Metric Cups

For the Cake

  • 150 grams dried apricots
  • 250 millilitres cold water
  • 2 cardamom pods (cracked)
  • 200 grams ground almonds
  • 50 grams fine polenta (not instant)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • 150 grams caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • nonstick spray (or sunflower oil for greasing)

To Decorate

  • 2 teaspoons apricot jam (or rose petal jam)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2½ teaspoons very finely chopped pistachios

For the Cake

  • 1¼ cups dried apricots
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 cardamom pods (cracked)
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • ⅓ cup fine polenta (not instant)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • ¾ cup superfine sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • nonstick spray (or sunflower oil for greasing)

To Decorate

  • 2 teaspoons apricot jam (or rose petal jam)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2½ teaspoons very finely chopped pistachios

Method

You will need: 1 x 20cm/8-inch round springform cake tin

  1. Put the dried apricots into a small saucepan, cover them with the cold water, and drop in the cracked cardamom pods with their fragrant seeds. Put on the heat, then bring to the boil and let it bubble for 10 minutes – don’t stray too far away from the pan, as by the end of the 10 minutes the pan will be just about out of water and you want to make sure it doesn’t actually run dry as the apricots will absorb more water as they cool.
  2. Take the pan off the heat, place on a cold, heatproof surface and let the apricots cool. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF. Grease the sides of your springform cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
  3. Remove 5 of the dried apricots and tear each in half, then set aside for the time being. Discard the cardamom husks, leaving the seeds in the pan.
  4. Pour and scrape out the sticky contents of the pan into the bowl of a food processor. Add the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder, caster sugar and eggs, and give a good long blitz to combine.
  5. Open the top of the processor, scrape down the batter, add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and the rosewater, and blitz again, then scrape into the prepared tin and smooth with a spatula. Arrange the apricot halves around the circumference of the tin.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, though if the cake is browning up a lot before it’s actually ready, you may want to cover loosely with foil at the 30-minute mark. When it’s ready, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin, the top will feel firm, and a cake tester will come out with just one or two damp crumbs on it.
  7. Remove the cake to a wire rack. If you’re using apricot jam to decorate, you may want to warm it a little first so that it’s easier to spread; rose petal jam is so lusciously soft-set, it shouldn’t need any help. Stir a teaspoon of lemon juice into the jam and brush over the top of the cake, then sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and leave the cake to cool in its tin before unspringing and removing to a plate.

You will need: 1 x 20cm/8-inch round springform cake tin

  1. Put the dried apricots into a small saucepan, cover them with the cold water, and drop in the cracked cardamom pods with their fragrant seeds. Put on the heat, then bring to the boil and let it bubble for 10 minutes – don’t stray too far away from the pan, as by the end of the 10 minutes the pan will be just about out of water and you want to make sure it doesn’t actually run dry as the apricots will absorb more water as they cool.
  2. Take the pan off the heat, place on a cold, heatproof surface and let the apricots cool. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF. Grease the sides of your springform cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
  3. Remove 5 of the dried apricots and tear each in half, then set aside for the time being. Discard the cardamom husks, leaving the seeds in the pan.
  4. Pour and scrape out the sticky contents of the pan into the bowl of a food processor. Add the almond meal, polenta, baking powder, superfine sugar and eggs, and give a good long blitz to combine.
  5. Open the top of the processor, scrape down the batter, add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and the rosewater, and blitz again, then scrape into the prepared tin and smooth with a spatula. Arrange the apricot halves around the circumference of the tin.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, though if the cake is browning up a lot before it’s actually ready, you may want to cover loosely with foil at the 30-minute mark. When it’s ready, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin, the top will feel firm, and a cake tester will come out with just one or two damp crumbs on it.
  7. Remove the cake to a wire rack. If you’re using apricot jam to decorate, you may want to warm it a little first so that it’s easier to spread; rose petal jam is so lusciously soft-set, it shouldn’t need any help. Stir a teaspoon of lemon juice into the jam and brush over the top of the cake, then sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and leave the cake to cool in its tin before unspringing and removing to a plate.

Additional Information

STORE NOTE: Store in an airtight container in a cool place for 5–7 days. In hot weather (or if the central heating’s on) keep in fridge.

FREEZE NOTE: The cake can be made ahead and frozen for up to 3 months (though the nuts may soften slightly on defrosting). Wrap the fully cooled cake (still on the springform tin base) tightly in a double layer of clingfilm and a layer of foil. To defrost, unwrap and leave it (still on the tin base) on a plate at room temperature for about 4 hours.

STORE NOTE: Store in an airtight container in a cool place for 5–7 days. In hot weather (or if the central heating’s on) keep in fridge.

FREEZE NOTE: The cake can be made ahead and frozen for up to 3 months (though the nuts may soften slightly on defrosting). Wrap the fully cooled cake (still on the springform tin base) tightly in a double layer of clingfilm and a layer of foil. To defrost, unwrap and leave it (still on the tin base) on a plate at room temperature for about 4 hours.

Tell us what you think

What 10 Others have said

  • I've made this cake twice in one week using some candied blood oranges and their syrup instead of the apricots. They were blitzed with the ground almonds etc then used the sliced orange rind and syrup on the top as a decoration. Sooooo delish!! Mascarpone, pistachios yum, I can taste it now....

    Posted by Mel09 on 21st October 2016
  • I wanted to bake a gluten free alternative for a coffee morning and had made the clementine cake before so thought I would try this one. It looked and smelt beautiful. I have to agree with a post below Tesco are hopeless at baking ingredients, my local is Tesco and I had to drive out to a Sainsbury's where they had everything - I wish it was my nearest as they have much better buyers.

    Posted by DJWinks on 12th August 2016
  • I have made this several times now and it is super with home made yoghurt and crushed nuts on top. A fail safe quick dessert for guests to impress! Well done Nigella!

    Posted by Sweaty Betty on 21st February 2016
  • This cake taste like a girlie tea party in my mouth! Very simple to make and looks beautiful. I did swap the 50g fine polenta for 50g plain flour as I didn't require GF, the cake came out even, moist and perfectly cooked. I made this swap as I could only get course polenta from my store here in Australia. I could probably get fine polenta from a heath food shop but I was to eager to try the recipe!

    Posted by b.thomasina on 22nd December 2015
  • I have just completed making this gorgeous cake and could not resist waiting for it to cool and I have to say it is delicious, thank you Nigella .

    Posted by JimBobPod on 28th November 2015
  • I made this today and was surprised how good it looked and tasted will certainly be making it again.

    Posted by pbirkett53 on 22nd November 2015
  • I was very surprised to find my main Tesco's did not stock fine polenta or rose water ! I have eventually sourced it at M&S ..... Let the happiness begin ????

    Posted by JimBobPod on 21st November 2015
  • Made this yesterday and took to a meeting only few crumbs were left!

    Posted by Angelmouse5 on 19th November 2015
  • I made it today and it was excellent

    Posted by Sabbahat on 5th November 2015
  • This cake looked amazing on the TV last night. I'm inspired to make it. Thank you Nigella you look great!

    Posted by alxpook on 3rd November 2015
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