Chocolate-Apricot Pound Cake with Apricot Preserve Glaze

"First feelings are always the most natural." - Louis XIV

Has everyone been as busy as I've been these past few days? Between the shopping and the cooking and prepping and the holiday festivities, I haven't had a chance to really catch my breath! Oh, and don't get me started on how real cooking and non-holiday baking has been pretty hard to squeeze in this week. Eggnog has become water's substitute and cookies are now a basic food group in this household. Apart from that, braving the incredible amounts of traffic every day should lead to winning a gold medal as well. Due to all the holiday visitors, driving has turned into an Olympic feat in this city! At least there isn't any snow down here, if not, I can't even begin to imagine how magnanimous the traffic jams would be. Luckily, I had a small break today! Once I got back home from having seen my parents, I had some time to go through my camera and pictures just to realize I hadn't posted the recipe for the cake I made for Thanksgiving. My strategy that week for dessert was to not go with the usual flavor combinations of pumpkin or apple since we were all pumpkin'd out that week. Also, my Mom had gone on an apple pie baking binge, so making something with apples was also out of the question. I had some dried apricots in the pantry so I decided to try this recipe out. It wasn't the most moist of cakes out there, but it wasn't dry either. The chocolate and apricot flavor combination gave the cake some kick, which was the boost it needed since the cake wasn't on the sweet side. It was a good way to end Thanksgiving dinner, with a glass of milk on the side.

Chocolate-Apricot Pound Cake with Apricot Preserve Glaze
adapted from: CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch by Warren Brown

*makes: one 12-cup Bundt cake*

"I love the speckles of orange and brown created by combining mini-chunks of apricot and chocolate in this cake. The colors make me think of a tiger, or of my hometown pro football team. You can see that my mind is easily entertained!

Combining dried apricots with bittersweet chocolate against a pleasantly moist yet crunchy butter cake is sinfully satisfying for anyone close enough to catch a whiff of this cake fresh out of the oven. Not too sweet, this batter is quick to mix and a perfect treat for starting or ending any day.

It's understandable if you don't want to use sulphured apricots, but I find the color and texture of unsulphured apricots are not as pleasant in baked goods."

12 oz unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp all natural unmodified potato starch
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 1/2 oz dried apricots
2 tbsp extra fine granulated sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
4 1/4 oz 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate premium baking chips
4 oz sour cream
1 tbsp ultra-pasteurized half & half
1/4 cup amaretto
1/2 tsp "Crush" pure vanilla bean extract
5 1/2 oz all natural unsalted butter
18 oz extra fine granulated sugar
4 large eggs

1) Pulse the apricots, sugar, and cornstarch in a food processor to chop the fruit into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the chocolate and continue to pulse 2 to 3 times for three seconds each or until the chocolate is broken into small 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside to combine with the other dry ingredients.
2) Preheat the oven to 350F. Set the rack in the middle of the oven.
3) Set out the ingredients and equipment.
- Sift the flour directly into a bowl on a scale for accurate measuring.
- Measure the other dry ingredients into a separate mixing bowl, add the flour, and whisk for 10 seconds to blend. Set aside.
- Measure the liquid ingredients into a separate bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside.
- Measure the butter and sugar into separate bowls and set aside.
- Crack the eggs into a small bowl and set aside.
4) In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on the lowest speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Note that this combination won't become very aerated due to lower butter and sugar ratio. The extra fat and sugar in the chocolate means we need to use less during the creaming process.
5) With the mixer still on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl.
6) Add the dry ingredient mixture alternately with the liquid mixture in 3 to 5 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Move swiftly through this step to avoid overworking the batter. Don't wait for the dry or liquid mixtures to be fully incorporated before adding the next. This step should take a total of about 60 seconds.
7) Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl all the way down. Don't miss the clumps of ingredients hiding on the bottom of the bowl. Mix on medium speed for 25 to 30 seconds to develop the batter's structure.
8) Prepare the pan. Spray the pan well with a nonstick spray.
9) Fill the pan about three-quarters full by depositing the batter with the rubber spatula in small clumps around the prepared pan instead of by pouring it into one spot. Level the batter with the rubber spatula.
10) Bake for approximately 45 to 50 minutes.
11) Once the edges of the cake are browning and the surface appears dry, test for doneness by inserting a bamboo skewer in the center of the cake. When the skewer shows just a touch of crumbs except for the smears of melted chocolate, the cake is done. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a heat-resistant surface or wire rack.
12) Once the cake has cooled for 5 to 10 minutes, remove the cake by inverting the pan onto a flat surface. Allow it to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before glazing with the Apricot Preserve Glaze.
13) Store under a cake dome at room temperature, or wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to 1 week. To store longer, label, date, and store the plastic-wrapped cake in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Apricot Preserve Glaze

1/2 cup apricot preserves
3 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp cold water
1 tsp rum

1) Preheat the oven to 350F.
2) Place the cake on an oven-safe plate.
3) Heat the preserves in a saucepan over low heat until the preserves liquefy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
4) Transfer the heated preserves to a sieve placed over a bowl and press with a rubber spatula to separate the liquid from the solids.
5) Brush a light coat of the warm preserve liquid onto the cake with a pastry brush.
6) Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and lightly brush the mixture onto the preserve-coated cake.
7) Bake for 5 minutes to seal in the glaze.
8) Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool to room temperature before serving.

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