Tiny Chocolate-Apricot Swirl Pound Cake

21 07 2009

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Occasionally the past just hammers me over the head. Like this weekend when I heard Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” on the radio. It reminded me of my 8-year-old self, and of sitting in my father’s burgundy Monte Carlo, listening to that same song, waiting to go through the car wash on a Saturday and thinking to myself, “This is it. This is what life is, I guess.”

Is there anything more sad than Elton John?

The memory of the car wash sparked a chain of reminiscence from that era – the early elementary school era – of my life. Such as how, when I was in the first grade, I spent every afternoon after school at my great aunt’s house. She would watch Days of our Lives, I would do my homework. And of course there was always a snack, usually a slice of pound cake and a glass of milk. There was something about that pound cake. Store-bought, a little oily; it really hit the spot. 

So when I was pottering around the kitchen yesterday with that memory fresh in my head, I thought I might make a pound cake. I turned, of course, to my guru (Debbie Maugans Nakos, author of Small-Batch Baking). She had a couple of pound cake recipes; I had a couple of apricots getting mushy. I decided to swirl her recipe for chocolate pound cake around with some of those apricots and see what might happen.

The end result was a swirly, marbly chunk of bliss. Of course, on its own, Debbie’s (I like to think we’re on a first-name basis) chocolate pound cake is heavenly. But the changes I made added a level of… intrigue. The original recipe calls for unsweetened cocoa powder to be added in with the dry ingredients. However, I mixed the ingredients as instructed but omitted the cocoa powder. Once the batter was mixed, I separated it into two bowls. Into one of the bowls I mixed the cocoa powder, into the other I mixed three diced, smashed apricots. I feared this might have altered the chemistry of the recipe and destroyed the cake, but I think it turned out well. When baked together, the two batters did have different consistencies. The chocolate was traditional pound-cakey. The apricot part was extremely dense and moist, akin to a cream cheese swirl. I finished the loaf off with a simple powdered sugar glaze, but that was probably totally unnecessary. 

In 25 years, what song will hearken me back to this pound cake? I hope it’s nothing by Coldplay. THAT would be sad. 

Chocolate-Apricot Swirl Pound Cake (sort of adapted from Small-Batch Baking)

Ingredients

3 Tbs room-temperature butter

1/4 C plus two tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons plain yogurt

1/8 tsp baking soda

Yolk of 1 large egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/3 C sugar

2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

1/8 tsp salt

2 – 3 apricots, chopped and mooshed up

Grease and flour a mini loaf pan (about 3 x 5), and preheat oven (or toaster oven!) to 350.

Mix yogurt, baking soda, egg yolk, and vanilla in a small bowl.

Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in a second bowl. Add butter and half of the yogurt mixture. Beat with an electric mixer until batter becomes light and fluffy and… well, bigger. Then add the remaining yogurt mixture and beat some more.

Divide the batter into two bowls. Into one bowl, add cocoa powder. Into the second bowl, add apricots.

Add both batters to the loaf pan, alternating blobs of chocolate and apricot. Swirl with a knife. 

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Bake for about 30 minutes, glaze if desired. Consume while listening to Elton John and thinking of his giant glasses and your childhood.

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