In the quiet days of summer, I make lists.
Cherry shrub. Corn salad. Salmon with tarragon. Garlicky greens. Ricotta.
These are the things I crave, the things I want to make in the afternoons when my writing's done and the boys are busy and my deadlines are met for now, for a moment.
The lists disappear and reappear. New lists form and have some of the same stuff as the old lists, and then the old lists return and I lose the new lists. Colin teases me because sometimes the lists read more like letters to third parties than simple shorthand reminders to myself. Don't forget there are cherries in the fridge! I'll write. Or, Definitely make bread early in the day!
Technology, which you'd think would solve my too-many-lists problem, actually compounds it. Because now I make paper lists and electronic lists. So I'm navigating post-its and voice memos and iPhone Notes and even Reminders, which I'm not sure are really all that different from Notes, except they pop up at particular times. (Monday, 2:30pm: Think about marinating some chicken!)
My phone is a hothouse of list-confusion. At some point, I decided it was a good idea to maintain separate lists for all the groceries I need from each of the places I shop, plus a new list up top called Master Shopping List. Master Shopping List is theoretically a compilation of all the other sublists, but it's really not; it always has a few different things on it, stragglers and hangers-on. (I just scrolled down and saw another entry for Master List, which was probably a prior iteration of Master Shopping List. I guess it got pushed too far down the list of lists.)
My lists for the past 2 weeks have revolved around apricots. My generous friend Katy invited our family over to pluck fruit at her orchard for the third consecutive year, and I came home with so many apricots I needed at least 17 separate lists to try to plan what to do with them all. Last week I made jam, and crumble, and frozen yogurt, and apricot butter, and salad, and then a lovely woman I don't know whose name is Laura, who lives in Italy, suggested I make cake, and so I disregarded all my lists -- which did not have the word cake on them -- and I made cake instead.
I even have the recipe for you.
Want to guess how I remembered to share it?
Recipe for Apricot Amaretti Cake
This bright summer cake is a whimsical adaptation of my Blueberry Nutmeg Cake, one of the most popular recipes from my cookbook Ripe. I kept it super-simple and streamlined, which is what makes the cake so appealing. I replaced the blueberries and nutmeg with apricot halves and anisette, a licorice-flavored liqueur. (You could certainly use pastis, or ouzo, or even go a different route entirely and use amaretto or even just a small 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract. Please don't buy a bottle of liquor just for this. Use what you have.) I also worked in a handful of store-bought amaretti cookies for crunch, a last minute call that makes this cake a multi-textured delight with just a hint of intoxicating bitter almond flavor.
Serves 6 to 8
10 ripe apricots, halved and pitted
1 tablespoon + 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon anisette, or other liqueur of your choice
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
9 amaretti cookies (about 1-1/4 ounce or 33 grams), crushed with the side of a knife
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Powdered sugar, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment.
Set the apricot halves hollows-up on a baking tray. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the liqueur of your choice. Set aside while you make the cake.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in half the crushed amaretti.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well to incorporate. Beat in the almond extract. Scrape down the bowl, then beat in the sifted ingredients in two additions.
Transfer to the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. You won't think you have enough batter because it seems like very little, but you do.
Press the apricots ever-so-gently onto the top of the cake, hollows-up, with some space in between each one. Scrape any residual juice from the baking sheet over the apricots. Sprinkle with the remaining crushed amaretti.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until a skewer emerges clean. Cool completely, unmold, and sift with powdered sugar at servingtime.