28 June 2012

Apricot & Mascarpone Cake and San Vito di Cadore, Dolomites




Our apricot tree is right in front of one of our windows.  Every year, it is a spectacle for me watching the life cycle of the fruit.  I like seeing the first signs of life after winter when the tiny bumps in every branch give way to flower buds in the rich color of bordeaux.  Then they open  up to white flowers that completely cover the whole tree.  It's a marvelous sight!  I never get tired of taking pictures of them every single year. 


When the flowers are all open, the bees come swarming in to do their pollinating.  And I love documenting this activity too with my camera.   The petals start falling off and cover the ground with a white carpet.  Then leaves come out, making the tree green finally.  That's the time when the fruit grow from tiny little bumps to big round green fruit that slowly turn yellowish then orange with slight tinges of blush.  That's the time when the fruit are saying that they are ready to be harvested. 

Like every single year, they are always ready when we are about to leave for our holiday.  So a day before leaving, I had a big basket of them.  Done with my usual jam making, I still had some apricots to "terminate".  I found a recipe of torta di mele e mascarpone (apple & mascarpone cake) that seemed perfect for my mission.  I substituted the apples with apricots. 


I had a feeling that the cake would come out very good because the mascarpone should give the softness and perfect consistency that I was looking for in a cake.  Having a lot of apricots, I decorated the top with some slices then glazed them with the apricot jam that I just made. 


After making the slice, I hastened my usually long photo shoot and took back the cake to the kitchen.  Looking at it through my lens was torturing me.  How long did I have to stare at the cake before I succumb to my hunger pangs?  I gathered everyone and we had a big snack that afternoon.  Truth be told, my husband and I both think that this is the best cake that I have ever baked.  I don't really have a vast baking experience to boast of but there was not a single mistake this time. My persistence finally paid off. 


And here is the first place we went to upon arrival at the Dolomites.  San Vito di Cadore is the closest town to where we always stay.  It's one of my favorite small places in this area where the atmosphere is perennially friendly and homey. 

The mountain chalet we rent is immersed in nature and is quite isolated from the usual town activities.   We take refuge in the shops of San Vito di Cadore for our daily needs.  It's a small town surrounded by mountains 360 degrees around it.  It's breathtaking!  Going downwards from the center of the town, there is a quiet lake called Lago di Mosigo where it's possible to go fishing or just enjoy the view.  




Let me leave you with this recipe and these holiday pictures for now.  There are already a number of dishes that I prepared here along with pictures of other towns I have visited that are in my queue of blog posts to compose.   I'm hoping to post the next one soon!

Hoping everyone is having a good week!



Apricot & Mascarpone Cake


Ingredients:
10 - 12 servings
For a round cake of 28 cm. diameter
  • 250 grams flour "00"
  • 250 grams mascarpone
  • 4 eggs
  • 150 grams sugar
  • 800 grams apricots, (400 grams diced / 400 grams sliced thinly for garnish)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 packet of 16 grams lievito di birra in polvere (baking powder)
  • 1 packet of .05 grams vanillina in polvere (vanilla extract powder)
  • icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons apricot jam (can be replaced with any jam that has similar taste)
  • cinnamon powder (optional)
  • mint leaves (optional) 
 Directions:
  1. Beat the eggs with with sugar and salt until the mixture becomes light-colored and fluffy. 
  2. Put the mascarpone in another bowl and stir it to soften.  
  3. Add about a couple of tablespoons of the egg & sugar mixture to make it less dense.  Then mix all the remaining egg & sugar mixture in the bowl.  Mix gently.  
  4. Add the sifted flour, baking powder & vanilla extract to the mascarpone.  Mix gently to combine.
  5. Add the diced apricots.  Mix gently.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a 28 cm. cake pan that had been greased with butter and sprinkled with flour.
  7. Bake in a pre-heated oven of 180°C for about 1 hour.
  8. If the cake's surface becomes too dark in the middle of cooking, cover it with an aluminum foil and continue cooking.  (At exactly 30 minutes, my cake turned brown already so I covered it with an aluminum foil.)
  9. Check if the cake is cooked by inserting a toothpick at the center of the cake.  If it comes out clean, then it's already cooked.  If not, leave the cake for a few more minutes in the oven.
  10. Let it cool.  When it has cooled, take it out from the pan.
  11. Arrange the sliced apricots on top. 
  12. In a small saucepan, warm up the apricot jam for about 2 minutes. 
  13. Brush the jam on the sliced apricots carefully.  
  14. When you have covered all the apricots, sprinkle a lot of icing sugar and cinnamon on top.  Decorate with some mint leaves.







36 comments:

  1. Absolutely stunning, I know this cake would become a new favorite for me with just one bite!! Love your photos of the Dolomites too!

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  2. I have my vanilla packets from my last trip to France! But I'm not sure about the baking powder packet, is it a small spoonful? I want to make your gorgeous cake next year with my apricots. I'm ready for my trip to the Dolomites, that's for sure- your photos are so inviting;-) Have fun, it all looks wonderful;-)

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    1. Hi Patty. I just wrote the exact amounts of the baking powder & vanilla extract in powder. Baking powder is 16 g. and vanilla extract is .05 g. If you go to the Dolomites, you won't be disappointed, wherever you are.

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  3. This is absolutely gorgeous - I would kill for an apricot tree outside my window!!

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    1. It is nice to have a tree just outside your window. It gives us such a nice view.

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  4. What a colour pop! I love the little pieces of apricot within the cake - and I can just imagine how wonderfully moist the mascarpone makes it!

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    1. The mascarpone made it extra moist. It really is a must try.

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  5. Rowena, your photos are captivating. I find myself scrolling up and down to gaze at them again and again. I'm not quite sure where the Dolomites are, but I can see a Bavarian influence in San Vito di Cadore and the views from your mountain chalet are absolutely stunning! And your apricot mascarpone cake is gorgeous as well :)

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    1. Hi Priscilla! The Dolomites are the mountains in the northeast of Italy, close to the border of Austria. The mountains had been mostly a part of Austria until after World War 1 when Italy won the area, moving the border of Austria backwards. For that the culture, the people, the language & the food are more Austrian. I don't know so much about its history but I hope this explains why it's different.

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  6. Oooooooooh YES! Gorgeous :)

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  7. Rowena your cake looks delicious with all the apricots in and on top. The mascarpone cheese would make it so moist too. The photos of the the trees and the mountains are just lovely and oh how I wish I could be there. Although through your photos I do feel like I am.

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    1. That's so nice Suzanne! Yes, the mascarpone really made the cake extra moist.

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  8. Now where can I buy type '00' flour here in North America? Is there a good substitute?

    As usual, your vacation pics are breathtaking! The town really is a testament to its closeness to Switzerland, as the chalets look like they are Swiss! Stunning! The views are spectacular - it makes my heart swoon! I'm so inspired by the loveliness of it all! Wish I were there...

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    1. Hi Jen. I read that the Canadian all-purpose (unbleached) is a good substitute. I got it from this thread. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/356547 It does have a similarity with the Swiss Alps. Thanks Jen!

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  9. Each time I visit, I am transported to a wonderful place and you never disappoint! I had to laugh when I read that you have long photoshoots - I do the same thing. Hubby is now use to it and he is actually always happy when he finally gets to eat the final product. I must make this cake, especially since you both said its the BEST cake you have ever made. Stunning photos!!!

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    1. So funny how our lives are Lisa. Our hubbies have to be very extra patient with us. I promise it is a wonderful cake!

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  10. I've seen apricot recipe lately and I'm very much inspired to make something with it. After I baked the blueberry cake, I'm little more hopeful that I can make this cake... maybe? =) Aw, your vacation pictures are wonderful! I hope you are having gorgeous time there. You deserve every minute of it! I wish I can be there with you...at least my heart! ;-)

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    1. Nami, we are both non-bakers so I am very sure that you can easily do this! Wish you can have a vacation with us too!

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  11. Rowena, the timing of this post could not be more perfect. I just made quite a lot of mascarpone today, and as it was draining I was thinking what to do with it. Also, tomorrow we are going to meet with friends and I was looking for a dessert recipe to make. And then I saw this GORGEOUS cake! It was love of first sight - I saw it and I knew that was my fate!
    The only change I made was using peaches instead of apricots. And I made 2 8 inch cakes instead of one 11 inch, it's exactly the same quantity. This way I can take one cake to my friends and keep one for us :-). I am still waiting for them to cool down, I am so impatient - it feels like it's taking forever. I will come back and report about the taste tomorrow. But judging by the look and the smell they must be wonderful. Thank you so much!
    By the way, the photos are beautiful, Lago di Mosigo must be an amazing spot to spend a week or two.

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    1. I can't wait to know how the cakes were. Thank you for the note!

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  12. That cake looks amazing! I can see why you gathered everyone right away to eat it! The pictures are amazing too - those mountains and the lake, just make for some beautiful scenery.

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    1. Thanks Erin! We couldn't wait to start attacking this cake as soon as I finished with the photo shoot.

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  13. Hi Rowena, I'm back :-). So one of the cakes is gone, to the last crumb. Fortunately it's the cake that we took to the party today, and I still have one full cake in the fridge :-), which makes me very happy, because the cake was delicious! I decorated it with peaches, so it did not look as orange and shiny as yours, but was still very pretty. And I used rose petal jam, because it was the most liquid jam I had at home.
    Brilliant recipe! I also took some pics, but did not have a chance to download them yet. In any case, my photos are never even close to yours :-).
    Thanks once again for this great recipe!

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    1. I'm happy that the cakes went well! And I appreciate your feedback so much. I would love to see the outcome of your cakes. Will you please send them to me through my Apron an Sneakers Facebook? Thanks!

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  14. Not only did I make this cake, I also posted the recipe on my blog, which is a very rare occasion for me these days, unfortunately. But this cake was so amazing that I found the time :-). I linked back to you. Thanks once again!

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    1. That's marvelous news to me! Thank you for letting me know. I'll check out your link now.

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  15. Great photos! And what a wonderful cake you have here! I'm insanely jealous of your apricot tree!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, we're lucky to have an apricot tree right in front of the house.

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  16. What stunning photos Rowena...just gorgeous! And this cake is simple divine!

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  17. how amazing that you have an apricot tree... they are one of my all time favorite fruits. And what a brilliant idea to use mascarpone in this cake to make it extra moist. I MUST try this.

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    1. Mascarpone made it very moist and extra delicious too!

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  18. Oh, I am in the US and I am use to cups not grams, I hope to find a chart to help me make the conversion. I adore this cake!!

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    1. You can find a lot of charts if you google grams to cups. This one seems easy to use http://calculator-converter.com/converter_g_to_c_grams_to_cups_calculator.php. Thanks!

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