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Monday, April 06, 2015

Apricot Raisin Pound Cake


This is a favourite fruit cake in Newfoundland, especially around holiday times.  I first tasted this cake in the staff room at the school where I taught.  Someone was always bringing in treats and Someone brought in this cake and of course I had to get the recipe.  This is not your regular brick-heavy fruit cake that appears around Christmas but a much lighter cream cheese based pound cake studded with apricots and golden raisins. It is so good. . .

About the same time I first tasted this cake, David and Anne had started dating and I learned Anne's mother, Florence, also makes this cake.   They had been dating a couple of years, but most of that time David had been away from home attending university in Alberta.  When he graduated we all made the trip out west and took Anne along with us.  Florence decided to send along this Apricot Raisin Pound Cake so we'd have a cake to celebrate the graduation.  But when she was taking the cake out of the pan it split in half and she wasn't going to give it to me but I persuaded her to send it along.  It would taste just as good cracked as it would whole.  So she packed up the cake and it made the flight to Alberta with the rest of the family. 

The day following the graduation ceremony we, along with some friends, decided to go to Banff National Park for some touristy sight-seeing in the Rockies.  As it was a six hour round-trip drive from the college we wanted to pack in as many activities as we could before we had to start the drive back for the night.  I don't remember if we packed a lunch but I remember we were going to eat supper at a restaurant.  About three or four o'clock in the afternoon we were all getting hungry and stopped at a rest area to figure out where and what we were going to eat.

As my stomach growled louder and louder I remembered the broken fruit cake.  I had forgotten to take it out of the trunk and there it was calling out to be eaten.  I wasn't long digging out the cake and inviting everyone to have a piece.  We didn't have a knife to cut it so we just reached in the container and broke off a chunk.  The cake disappeared chunk by chunk in record time with everyone licking their lips and fingers.  Cheryl said it was the best fruit cake she'd ever eaten.  That may have been because she was hungry.  Who knows?  I know it was the best Apricot Raisin Pound Cake I'd ever eaten and still is.  

You won't be disappointed in the taste of this cake.  It makes a great gift as well.  Florence bakes me one every year and we greatly enjoy her gift until the last crumb is devoured.  

If you don't like or want to use raisins leave them out and add an extra cup of apricots. Florence makes hers with just apricots and uses about 4 cups which makes a decadent moist cake.  But here's the original recipe with the raisins.


Apricot Raisin Pound Cake
1½ cups dried apricots, cut in small pieces
1 cup golden raisins or sultanas
¼ cup sugar
1 cup water

1¼ cups sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 8 oz/250 gram package cream cheese, room temperature
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2¼ cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan, bring the cut apricots, raisins, ¼ cup sugar and 1cup of water to a boil.  Turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Lay aside to cool.  Do not drain.

When the fruit mixture has cooled, preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or two or three loaf pans, depending on loaf pan size.  Loaf pans may be lined with parchment paper. 

Cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla and mix well.

Sift or mix the dry ingredients together and add alternately to the creamed mixture with the cooled fruit including any juice or water remaining in the fruit. You may do this by hand or on the lowest setting of your mixer.

Spread batter in prepared pan(s) and bake for approximately 1 hour.  Check after 45 minutes, especially if using loaf pans.  Watch carefully after the first hour if the cake is not baked.  You may need to turn the oven down to 300 degrees to avoid burning the cake while it continues baking. 

When cake is baked a tooth pick or cake tester should come out clean if inserted in the middle of the cake.

Let cake rest in pan about 10-15 minutes and then turn out on a cooling rack.   When the cake is thoroughly cool it should be transferred to an airtight container or wrapped in several layers of plastic wrap.  It can be sliced and eaten the next day or frozen for no more than up to a month for best results.

Makes 16-20 slices.

Of course, you can eat it right out of the oven if you wish but it will cut better if left to mellow until the next day.  And if it breaks apart by some terrible accident, don't throw it out--eat it chunk by chunk. 



Chop the apricots in small pieces.  Add the sugar, apricots, raisins and water to a saucepan.   Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.  I took the first three pictures when Florence was making a cake and she just uses apricots.  The last picture is of my cake and I used apricots and golden raisins.

When the fruit is cooled start the cake batter.  Cream the butter, cream cheese and butter together.  Add the eggs and vanilla.

When the creamed portion of the batter is done, alternately add the dry ingredients with the cooled fruit mixture.

Make sure everything is thoroughly mixed together.  You can use the lowest setting on the mixer or mix by hand at this point of the recipe.

Place the batter in the prepared pan(s).  I'm using a round pan today because this cake is going on a wedding cake.

Bake until completely cooked in the middle.  Insert a toothpick or cake tester down the middle of the cake.  If it comes out clean with no gooey batter, the cake is done.

When the cake was cold, I sliced it in half to fill it with frosting for the wedding cake.  (I'll post the wedding cake blog later on.)  See that lovely moist crumb. 


There was a little batter left over so I made a miniature cake not much bigger than a cupcake.  I topped this mini cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.


I cut the miniature cake into little slices. There wasn't as much fruit in the little cake as in the larger one.  That's because I scraped as much batter from the bowl as I could to go in the small pan and there wasn't much fruit left in the bowl.  It still tasted very good.


So mouthwateringly moist with cream cheese and dried fruit.




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