Benjamina Ebuehi’s recipe for apricot camomile cake

Apricots rank pretty high up on my list of favourite stone fruits, and they score extra points when they’ve had some time in the oven to soften and release all of that sweet, slightly sharp nectar. Here, I’ve nestled them in a cake rather than a tart, because it can be a bit of a pain trying to keep pastry chilled in a hot summer kitchen. The camomile, subtle but present, brings such a soothing, floral vibe that just makes me want to hold on to summer for as long as possible.

Apricot camomile cake
Prep 30 min
Cook 1 hr 10 min
Serves 8-10

150ml milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 loose-leaf camomile tea bags
175g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
160g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
6 apricots, halved and pitted
1 tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped

For the syrup
60g caster sugar
2 camomile tea bags

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4, and grease and line a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin.

In a small saucepan, gently heat the milk, vanilla and camomile tea bags until hot to the touch. Take off the heat, cover the pan and leave the milk to steep and cool for about 20 minutes.

In a bowl, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest with an electric whisk for three to four minutes, until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well to combine after each addition.

Sift the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt into a second bowl. Add half of this to the butter mixture, stirring until just combined, then mix in the cooled camomile milk, and finally the rest of the flour mix.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin, and top with the apricots cut side up (it’s fine if they overlap a little). Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean; if the cake looks as if it’s getting too dark before the time is up, cover with a sheet of foil and continue to bake.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. Heat the sugar, tea bags and 40ml water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, simmer for a minute, then take off the heat and set aside.

Once the cake is out of the oven, brush all over the surface with the syrup, leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then remove and leave to cool completely. Top with the chopped pistachios before serving.