Apricot Cake (Marillenkuchen)

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about my time in Austria and discovery of the myriad of apricot dishes, especially in late summer. And while it’s not currently stone fruit season in NYC, it is a 3-day weekend and we’re expecting a snowstorm later this afternoon, so I decided to to dig out the recipe my host mom gave me for her amazing Marillenkuchen (apricot cake)!

I’ve kept her original recipe intact except for the addition of a bit of lemon zest, just to give the cake a bit of that zesty flavor to really complement the apricots.

If fresh apricots are hard to come by, a great thing about this recipe is that you can also make it with peaches, raspberries, or most other fruits that might be in season/locally available.

And in case you haven’t figured by now, Marille means apricot in German. 🙂

Recipe:

Note: Since this recipe is straight from Austria, the ingredients below are measured in grams. If you have a kitchen scale, no problem! If not, I’ve also included approximations of measurements in standard American conventions.

Ingredients

  • 200g butter, softened at room temp (~1 1/2 stick)
  • 200g powdered sugar (~1 5/8 cup)
  • 5 eggs
  • 200g flour (~1 3/8 cup)
  • 8g vanilla sugar (1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 4g baking powder (1 tsp)
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 5-6 apricots

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Rinse and quarter apricots.
  3. Beat together butter, half the sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and egg yolks. Then add in flour and baking powder.
  4. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until frothy, then add in second half of sugar until mixture is peaked and stiff.
  5. Gently fold egg whites into first mixture.
  6. Grease 9″ round baking pan/pie dish and sprinkle with flour. Pour mixture evenly into pan.
  7. Bake for 25 min or until cake is starting to firm. Line the top of the cake with apricot pieces in whatever pattern you like. (If you put the apricots on the cake from the beginning, they will likely sink to the bottom! This happened to me once…)
  8. Bake for additional 15 minutes, or until cake turns golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool a few minutes and dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Mini Cakes & Austrian Apricots

A few summers ago, I lived in a small town – Feldbach – in southeast Austria with the most wonderful host family anyone could ask for. During that summer, I first experienced baking with the metric system: no measuring cups nor tablespoons nor other American conventions, only host mom’s digital kitchen scale. Converting recipes from cups to grams was a bit of a pain (though if you’re ever in this sort of situation, here’s a helpful guide!), but once that was done, measuring everything in grams is actually quite convenient. No hassle of needing 1/4 cup vs 1/3 cup; having to use the 1/2 tsp for vanilla, then rinse/drying it for 1/2 tsp of baking powder. Just measure everything out into the same bowl on the scale!

I returned to visit host fam the following summer for a couple weeks, and while there I decided to make these mini fruit cakes for my family, taking advantage of the famous fresh Austrian apricots (Marillen) available in late summer. During my first summer in Austria, I discovered (and became obsessed with) the apricots of Lower Austria and the numerous dishes in which they use this fruit: MarillenknödelMarillenkuchen, Marillenmarmelade, Marillentorte

The cakes were nice and light with a vanilla cream cheese frosting on top, and the mini size was perfect for popping in your mouth in one bite! They turned out so beautifully, even better than I had hoped. And I know host fam (particularly host dad) thoroughly enjoyed them.