Recipe slightly adapted by Sarah Phillips from recipe by Chef Laurent Gras’s e-book, “My Provence”. Posted with permission from altaeditions.com © 5-5-2017 (reposted from 2012) Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
This recipe creates a dense, moist cake with a savory quality from olive oil and honey, enhanced by the flavor of almond and cognac-soaked apricots. The flavors of basil and strawberry in the compote cut through the richness of the cake.
Apricots are soaked in an alcohol syrup overnight and then chopped. For the cake, the wet and dry ingredients are mixed and combined before baking. The finished cake, studded with drunken apricots, is iced with an optional lemon glaze. To make the compote, strawberries are split and roasted in a pan with butter and sugar and then tossed with a basil-flavored strawberry reduction.
The Cognac in the cake recipe adds in flavor, but note not all of the liquor burns off during baking. See my Alcohol Burn-Off Chart for details.
For the Soaked Apricots:
1/3 cup (50 ml) water
1/2 cup (50 g) sugar
1/3 cup (50 ml) Cognac or brandy
6 dried apricots, about 3 ounces (100 g)
For the Cake:
Butter and flour for the pan
3/4 cup (100 g) unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
1/3 cup (45 g) almond flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
1 1/2 teaspoons (5 g) baking powder
2 large eggs
Zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons (100 g) honey, divided
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (75 ml) whole or 2% milk
For the Glaze:
1 cup (100 g) powdered sugar (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lemon, strained, about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) (optional)
For the Strawberry Syrup and Compote:
1 pound (500 g) fresh strawberries, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup (100 g) water
1/4 cup (50 g) light or dark brown sugar, packed; divided
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 g) unsalted butter
4 leaves basil, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
STEP I: MAKE THE SOAKED DRIED APRICOTS
1. In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar.
2. When the syrup is clear, turn off the heat. Stir in the Cognac or brandy and add the apricots. Let soak overnight.
3. The next day, remove the apricots from the syrup, pat dry, and dice into small pieces. Set aside.
Reserve the syrup in a covered jar. Refrigerate.
STEP II: MAKE THE CAKE AND THE GLAZE.
For the cake:
1. Position an oven shelf to the middle of the oven
Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease an 8-inch (20 cm) square baking pan.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flours, and baking powder.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, salt, and 4 tablespoons (80 g) of the honey. Beat in the olive oil and the milk.
4. Whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture, breaking up any lumps to form a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
5. Scatter the soaked apricot pieces around the batter.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges have browned and pulled away from the sides of the pan and the tip of a paring knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs but not batter.
7. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan, set upright on a wire rack, and continue cooling to room temperature.
For the glaze:
1. To prepare the glaze, in a bowl combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice and stir to form a thin, spreadable paste. You can adjust the consistency with a few drops of water, if necessary.
2. Spoon this mixture on top of the cooled cake and spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon to glaze the cake.
3. Allow the glaze to dry at least an hour before serving.
For the Strawberry Syrup and Compote:
1. Using a paring knife, remove the stems of the berries. Pick out 2/3 of the nicest berries and set them aside.
2. In a blender, combine the remaining strawberries with the water and a little more than half of the brown sugar and process until liquified.
3. Pour into a small saucepan and reduce by half over low heat, about 10 minutes. Strain this syrup and keep warm.
4. In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
Cut the strawberries in half and place them in the pan, cut side down. Sprinkle with the remaining brown sugar and roast the berries until they wilt, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the basil to the strawberry syrup.
1. Divide the roasted strawberries among four small, individual dishes. Spoon the basil syrup over berries and finish with a few drops of olive oil.
2. Cut the cake into squares and serve.
Store the cake at room temperature, well covered, in the refrigerator, if the room is warm, or at room temperature. The cake glaze will dissolve into the cake.
Store the strawberry syrup and compote in the refrigerator.