Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Apricot Lattice Cake

Probably I ought to head this recipe, Do Not Attempt in a Summer Rental. It turned out fine, but if one follows the recipe scrupulously, which I did not, one would turn out with a much more impressive, decorative product. For one thing, it calls for a rolling pin. I have no rolling pin. For another, six cups of flour and a pound of butter take up a lot of space in a bowl. I have a medium size steel bowl I rescued from the garden shed at my parents' house. All the rest of the cooking implements went ruthlessly to the Salvation Army. After my sister died,  I didn't want to think about that stuff, and I didn't until the following summer, when it occurred to me that I could have used it.
As a result, I had to cut the butter into the flour very carefully, because it overflowed onto the table.
But it didn't matter in the long run. In spite of gluten related aches and pains, I ate a couple of the bars, and they were delicious.
I'm sure that the ultimate recipients didn't care either. I decided I would start making baked goods for the stream of Appalachian Trail hikers that are pouring over the mountains this time of year. Along with cooking and reading indiscriminate crap, (and dressage(Don't tell Barack Obama.)) my other hobby is hiking on the AT. I have so far completed about half the state of Virginia, all of Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and just yesterday, New York. Also all but three miles of Massachusetts, up on the Vermont border.
The Appalachian trail has a tradition of something called "trail magic." Trail magic is when people leave stuff for hikers. It can be water, soft drinks, food, anything. Sometimes people stage giant cookouts for hikers. I have been the recipient of trail magic. I love hiking, but at the end of a day spent staggering around in mosquito-ridden woods with the temperature in the low 90s, if someone gives you a piece of pizza, it is enough to bring tears to a person's eyes.
It's been dry this summer, so I have been leaving a couple of gallons of water at the trail crossings. I decided I would leave baked goods from the cookbook as well, and knock off more of these cookie recipes.
Apricot Lattice Cake is really cookie bars. One makes a rich dough and presses it into a jellyroll pan. I used a cookie sheet I had just gotten. Everything comes through with a heavy nonstick finish which is just great. Then, apply apricot jam, and finally, lay a series of strips made from the rolled out dough over all to form the lattice effect.
Well, when it got to the last step, I resorted to rolling the dough between the palms of my hands the way children do with Playdough in nursery school. I made irregular, fat snakes of dough that I laid down to form the lattice. Considering that I had eaten a fair amount of dough after I pressed down the bottom layer,  and my snakes used much more dough than rolled out strips would have, it was not surprising that the lattice was somewhat...irregular. Hey, I am sure the hikers didn't care.

Apricot Lattice Cake

6 cups flour
1 pound butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
grated rind and juice of  half a lemon
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup to one and one half cups apricot preserves

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the flour in a large bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry blender or the finger tips as though starting pastry dough. Mixture should resemble coarse oatmeal.
3. Add all remaining ingredients except preserves and work with hands into a dough.
4. Cut off one-eighth of the dough and set aside. Using fingers, spread bulk of dough evenly in a lightly greased 10-by-15-inch jellyroll tin. Spread with preserves.
5 Roll out reserved dough in one-eighth-inch thickness on a lightly floured pastry cloth or board. Cut into pencil-thin strips and arrange over the cake in a crisscross lattice design. Bake twenty-five minutes or until lightly browned.
6. Cool in the tin on a rack and cut into squares, triangles or bars. This is very rich.
Makes about 40 bars.

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