Showing posts with label apricots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apricots. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Apricot Kolaches #BreadBakers

Kolaches are a Texas breakfast treat that can be either savory, think sausage and cheese or sweet, usually with a fruit filling. The filling in these apricot kolaches isn’t traditional but they are delicious. 

Houston has a homegrown doughnut chain called Shipley Do-Nuts, one location mere minutes from our house there. It’s a treat to go early in the morning and get a dozen of their hot glazed doughnuts, fresh out of the fryer. The place smells of sweet sugar and fresh coffee and since there’s no place to sit and eat, folks are lined up to place their orders to go. They even have a drive-through. This is Houston, after all. Everyone drives everywhere. And since it’s also Texas, Shipley's makes kolaches. My personal favorite is jalapeño sausage with cheese. Divine.

So why are kolaches typical in Texas? There are many towns and rural areas where folks from Czechoslovakia came to settle during the mid- to late 19th century. Along with their devotion to the Catholic Church, strong work ethic and love of polka music, they brought their kolache making tradition. If you are ever headed to Texas, make sure to check the events calendar for a Czech Fest. Taking place in several towns, the fun starts on Labor Day weekend with the biggest, Westfest. While many of the Czech fests include a kolache baking contest, they all have polka bands and you will be required drink cold beer and get up and dance. It’s a rule.

This month’s Bread Bakers challenge is to use stone fruit like cherries, peaches, nectarines, mangoes and the like. Problem is, except for mangoes, the stone fruit that is imported to Dubai never really smells or tastes of properly ripened summer fruit. Traditional fruit kolaches have a cooked fruit filling in a sweetened yeast dough so I could have made do. After all, every fruit is sweet if you cook it down with sugar. I decided to use canned apricot halves and leave them whole instead. Just because I think they are pretty that way.

The dough divides nicely into 18 pieces, but my can of apricots was short one half. No problem, I filled that final kolac (<that’s the singular) with some homemade preserves, in this case, fig. You could actually do the same with all of your kolaches if you can't be bothered to make filling.

This recipe calls for chilling the dough in the refrigerator overnight so start one day ahead of when you’d like to serve these kolaches. This is ideal since then they can be fresh baked for breakfast.

Ingredients for 18 kolaches
For the apricot filling:
1 can apricot halves (net wt. 410g, drained wt. 240g) in syrup
1/4 cup or sugar, or more to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the dough:
1 cup or 245g sour cream
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup or 113g butter, melted and cooled, plus more for buttering the dough bowl
2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup or 120ml lukewarm water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4-5 cups or 510g strong white bread flour

For the crumb topping:
1/4 cup or 42g all-purpose flour
1/8 cup, firmly packed, or 25g brown sugar
1/8 cup or 25g granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

To assemble the kolaches:
≈ 2 tablespoons fine semolina

Take your eggs and sour cream out of the refrigerator and leave them to come to close to room temperature.

Drain the apricot halves and put the syrup in a small pot. Lay the apricots out on some paper towels to dry.

Cook the syrup with the sugar over a medium low heat until the liquid has reduced to about 1/3 cup. Add in the butter and salt and stir well. Add in the apricot halves and set aside to cool. Once cool, the syrup turns into a kind of jelly. Refrigerate the apricots and jelly when the dough rests overnight.

Put the yeast in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer. Add 1 tablespoon from the sugar for the dough and the warm water. Leave to proof for a few minutes.

Add the butter, sour cream, egg, sugar and salt into the mixing bowl. Beat until well combined.

Add in four cups or 385g of the bread flour and beat well. The dough will become quite thick but still very soft and sticky.

Use your bread hook to add in the last cup or 125g bread flour and knead for a few minutes. It's still going to be pretty soft and sticky but, fear not, it will be easy to handle once chilled.

Put the dough into a buttered bowl, cover with cling film and pop it in the refrigerator. Let it rest overnight.

When you are ready to bake the next morning, take the apricots and dough out of the refrigerator.

Cut the dough in half. Then cut each of those halves into three equal parts. Then divide the three parts into three more. This should give you 18 reasonably equal pieces of dough.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Roll the dough pieces into small balls and place them evenly spaced on the lined baking sheets.

Cover the balls lightly with cling film and set in a warm, draft-free place to rest for 10 minutes.

Use your fingers and thumbs to press out an indentation in the middle of each ball that’s large enough for your apricot halves.

Sprinkle a healthy pinch of fine semolina – perhaps a 1/4 teaspoon – into each indentation.

Add about 1/2-3/4 a teaspoon of the jellied apricot syrup into each as well. Tuck a half apricot in on top of the jelly.

Combine the all-purpose flour, sugars and butter in a food processor and pulse until crumbly to make the crumble topping.

Sprinkle the crumble liberally on top of the apricots. Set the pans in a warm, draft free place for about 30 minutes.

When the resting time is almost up, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Bake the kolaches in your preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown.

There's the fig preserves one, top right. 

Enjoy with a hot cup of coffee or tea. Polka music optional.

Many thanks to Mireille from The Schizo Chef for hosting Bread Bakers this month. Are you ready to get baking with stone fruit? We’ve got plenty of great recipes for you!

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Apricot Habanero Jam

This spicy apricot jam is fabulous with some cheddar or cream cheese on crackers or toast, but our favorite way to enjoy it is as a glaze and/or topping on pork chops. 

This week we are Saving Summer with lots of great recipes that take advantage of nature’s bounty during the growing season and extend its use into fall and winter. Farmers’ markets and roadside stands are redolent with summer produce, if you are fortunate enough to live or visit some place that’s not hotter than the hinges of the gates of hell right now. 

As much as I love Dubai, there is no other way to describe our summer heat index. Just recently, though, I was able to visit the island of Jersey in the English Channel and I was practically skipping with joy to buy eggs and Jersey Royal potatoes at roadside stands. It’s all on the honor system. You just take what you need and drop the money in the box!
Photo credit: Glenys Claverie

Here in Dubai, the farmers’ markets close for the summer but fresh produce is flown in from everywhere around the world. These apricots were from Lebanon, if I remember correctly. I try to buy those items that have traveled the least distances.

Make sure you scroll on down to the bottom and check out all the lovely recipes and “how-to” instructions we have for you this week. And many thanks to my co-host, Tara, from Noshing with the Nolands. She’ll be leading the Saving Summer Twitter chat this evening so be sure to join in!

2 lbs or 910g fresh apricots
1 small habanero
3 1/2 cups or 700g sugar, divided
Half pack pectin - Just less than 1 oz or about 25g (I use the Sure-Jell brand and the box says 1.75oz or 49g.)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
 1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup orange juice, most pulp

3-4 clean, sterilized jam jars
Wide-mouth funnel for filling jars

N.B. Make sure your jars and lids are thoroughly sterilized because this quick canning method does not require a hot water bath or pressure cooking. If you have any doubts whatsoever, store the jam in the refrigerator once cooled.

Halve your apricots and remove the pits. Pull the stem off of your habanero and discard it.

In a large pot, heat your apricots with the habanero, 3 cups or 600g of the sugar, the sea salt and the lemon and orange juices.

Cook over a low to medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally and skimming any white foam that forms around the top. The apricots and habanero should start falling apart and turning to pulp.

Get your jars ready for filling by lining them up on some paper towels (to catch the inevitable drips onto your countertop) and inserting a metal teaspoon into each one. A wide-mouth funnel will make this so much easier! Put the funnel into the first jar, at the ready.

Meanwhile, mix your pectin with the remaining half cup or 100g of sugar.

Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool for just a few minutes. Use your hand blender to puree the mixture to your desired consistency.

Return the pot to the heat and add in the sugar/pectin mixture. Mix well and bring the pot to a full rolling bowl for at least a minute.

Ladle the boiling hot jam into the clean jars, moving the funnel along as you go. Do be careful not to splash jam on yourself.

I completely missed taking a picture at this stage so here's one from when I made tomato chutney for Sunday Supper. Pretend this is apricot habanero jam. :) Same process.

Remove the teaspoons and screw the lids on the jars very tightly, using a towel to hold the jars and turn the lids, starting with jar one. When you get to jar three or four, start over at number one, trying to tighten them all just a little more.

Turn the jars upside down so that the hot jam further sterilizes the insides of your clean lids.

Leave the jars upside down until the jam has completely cooled, which could take several hours. Turn the jars upright and check that the center button on the lids have popped in, if your lids have those. Any jars whose buttons have not popped in should be stored in the refrigerator as this means the seal is not good and bacteria could get in. If this jam lasts that long. :) I could eat it with a spoon.


Garden growing overtime? Fruit and veg box overflowing? Can't resist the local produce at the farmers' market? Then this is the Sunday Supper for you!

Learn how to …

Sip sunny cocktails and smoothies

Scoop up special salsas and sauces

Jump into jellies, jams and preserves

Pucker up for pickles

Slurp and spoon soup and a side dish

Dive into divine desserts

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Upside-down Apricot Butter Bundt #BundtBakers

Baking an upside-down cake in a Bundt pan is not for the fainthearted. But with lots of butter in the caramel and in the batter, it can be done! 

This month the Bundt Bakers are celebrating stone fruit. Things like peaches, apricots and plums or cherries and nectarines, in fact anything with a hard stone or pit in the middle, so even avocados would qualify. This great theme was chosen by Felice of All That’s Left are the Crumbs but unfortunately, she was unable to host this month, so I’ve stepped in. We miss you, Felice, and are all wishing you well!

We can get beautiful apricots here in Dubai, but they aren’t the sweetest so I decided to use canned ones for the cake. If you have sweet fresh apricots, by all means, substitute. The cake batter is a simple buttery pound cake, spooned into the caramelized sugar Jamie Oliver uses for his apricot tarte tatin, which is one of my favorite desserts to make. Although I usually leave the pistachios off. Must share that one soon too.

For the cake:
1 pound or 450g unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 pound or 450g sugar
5 eggs
3 cups or 375g all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup or 240ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the “upside down” caramelized apricots:
3 1/2 oz or 100g sugar
2 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons or 1/3 cup or 70g unsalted butter, diced
1 can (14 1/2 oz or 410g) apricots in syrup, well drained

In a small skillet, cook your sugar and water over a low to medium heat until it starts to brown. Watch it carefully the whole time! You do not want this to burn, just to caramelize. When it gets a nice medium brown, take the skillet off the stove and add in the butter.

Stir vigorously but don’t splash yourself! That stuff is hot.

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and butter and flour your Bundt pan thoroughly.

Mix your flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside.

With a mixer, cream butter and sugar together in another bowl. Add the eggs to the creamed butter, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

First egg and fluffy butter creamed with sugar

By the time the last egg goes in, it may look a little curdled but don't that alarm you. Now add the dry ingredients alternately with milk, starting with the flour and ending with the flour, mixing well after each addition.

Mix in the vanilla extract.

Pour your caramelized sugar and butter mixture into the prepared Bundt pan.  If it has started to harden up, you can warm it again very gently - just until it will pour - but you don't want it too hot.

That's a lot of butter in there. No way this can stick! Just keep repeating that.

Gently lay the drained apricots, round side down, in the caramel.

Spoon the batter carefully into the pan, first on top of the apricots so they stay down and then all around them. Keep spooning the batter until it is all in the pan. If you pour, you risk dislodging the apricots.

Smooth out the top and bake for 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

If you are a thermometer-using type, according the King Arthur Flour website, the internal temperature should be about 200°F or 93°C when a pound cake is done.

It looks a bit funny around the edges because the caramel bubbled up as it baked.
You can still see a little caramel there on the right. It soaks into the cake as it starts to cool.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 10-15 minutes before turning out. I wouldn’t leave it any longer though because you don’t want the caramelized sugar to harden again and stick to the pan. There is no sound more beautiful to a Bundt baker than that gentle thud of a cake turning loose.


Do you love baking with stone fruit? We’ve got a great bunch of recipes for you this month!


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send me an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove @

Friday, January 24, 2014

Apricot Blue Cheese Pecan Bites

The mix of salty blue cheese and sweet apricots topped with toasted pecans makes the perfect bite for happy hour.  Enjoy these with a glass of crisp dry white wine or an ice cold beer. 

Here’s the thing.  I love salty stuff.  I’d choose a piece of bacon over a slice of chocolate cake any day.  But if you add salty to sweet, I’m still in.  The idea for these apricot blue cheese bites came to me in a flash of inspiration when I was using canned apricots in muffins.  They are the perfect little vessel for melted cheese!  I used blue but if that’s not your favorite, try Brie or Camembert or even a goat cheese.  Don’t have pecans?  Top them with toasted walnuts.   No matter how you make them, I’d like to come over for the party!

1 can (14 1/2 oz or 410g, net weight) apricot halves
3 1/2 oz or 100g blue cheese
1 oz or 30g whole pecan halves – one per apricot half so your weight may vary slightly.
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

Drain the juice or syrup out of your can of apricot halves and put them on bed of paper towels to absorb any moisture.   Count how many there are and count out that many pecans plus a few spares.  My can had 17 apricot halves.

Toast your pecans in a non-stick skillet over a medium flame.  Toss or stir them frequently to avoid scorching.  When they are browning nicely, remove the hot pan from the stove and sprinkle in the sugar.

Toss the pecans around quickly to coat them with the sugar which will begin to caramelize immediately as it hits the hot pan.  There may be smoke.  Just keep tossing.  Set aside to cool.

Wipe out the non-stick skillet and pop in the apricots.  On high heat, cook them quickly until they are browned or a little charred on both sides.

Put the apricot halves in a baking pan, hole side up.

Cut your blue cheese into small pieces and put some in each apricot.

Put the pan under the broiler or grill in your oven and cook for just a few minutes or until the blue cheese is melted and bubbly.  Some of the cheese may melt out onto the pan but as it cools, you can scoop it up and put it back in the apricot.

Top each with a toasted pecan.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Sharing with your helper is optional.  But, frankly, not really recommended.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Apricot Muffins #MuffinMonday

Canned apricots and their syrup add wonderful flavor to this vanilla muffin, made even prettier when topped with a sliced apricot half before baking.

Today’s muffin comes to you with a little added history lesson.  Did you know that canned food, first in glass bottles and then in cans made out of tin plate, dates back as far as 1809?  Canning was first devised as a way to feed armies on the move and sailors on long sea voyages, until mechanized production of the actual cans and the sterilization of their contents eventually made canned food accessible and affordable to the masses.  What I find funniest about this whole story is that the first can opener wasn’t invented until 30 years after the first can.  Soldiers used bayonets and rocks to open them.

Nowadays we take for granted that grocery store suppliers fly in fresh produce from all over the world and we can eat most anything, even out of season, because it’s in season somewhere.  We also take for granted the humble can.  According to a BBC magazine article quoting the Can Manufacturers Institute in Washington DC, Europe and the US alone use more than 40 billion cans of food a year!  This week’s muffin, using canned apricots, is a tribute to the innovators who first came up with the idea.  Gentlemen, I salute you!

1 can (14.5 oz or 410g, net weight) apricot halves in syrup
1 3/4 cups or 220g flour
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup or 60g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup or 60ml milk
1/4 cup or 60ml apricot syrup (from the can of apricot halves)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.  Prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by putting liners in the muffin cups or greasing them well with butter or non-stick spray.

Drain your apricots, making sure to save the syrup.  Set aside the prettiest six for decorating the tops before baking.

Chop the rest of them in small pieces.  Cut the pretty ones in half and then make three slits almost all the way through to the top so that you can fan out the apricot half in four sections.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk together the melted butter, milk, syrup, vanilla and egg in a bowl until combined well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold to combine.

Gently fold in your chopped apricots.

Divide batter among muffin cups.

Decorate each with a fanned out apricot half.

Bake in your preheated oven until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove to a wire rack to cool.