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Steamed Apricot Sponge Recipes extracted from: The Farm Table by Julius Roberts. Published by Ebury, £27. Photography by Elena Heatherwick Demeter
April 2024
Reading time 2 Minutes

A steamed sponge is a glorious thing: effortless to make, juicy and light as air

These mini sponges are cooked with tart stewed apricots at the bottom of the moulds, which ooze into the sponge when flipped. Apricots are my favourite fruit for cooking, their tartness just heaven against the sweetness of the sponge. But the apricot season is short and this is a dish worth making throughout the year, so substitute in any stewed fruit - just make sure it's jammy and not too wet. In winter, marmalade makes a great replacement.
  • For the stewed apricots
  • 40g butter
  • 6 apricots, halved and destoned
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • a splash of apple brandy, Madeira or any sweet booze
  • For the sponge
  • 90g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 90g caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 115g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • For serving
  • homemade custard, ice cream, crème fraîche or double cream

Preheat your oven to 180C fan and generously grease four dariole moulds with butter. Start with the apricots. Put the butter into a pan that will fit the apricots snugly in one layer, then turn on the heat and when the butter begins to foam, add the apricots cut side down. Sprinkle over the sugar and cook for four minutes, until they begin to soften, then flip the apricots and pour in the brandy. Cook for a further three minutes, then turn the heat off and let them sit in their own juices. You want them cooked enough that they’re softened and have created a lovely syrup but aren’t falling apart.

For the sponge, use a stand mixer or electric whisk to cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest for about five minutes, until pale and fluffy. With the mixer/whisk still running, slowly pour in the beaten eggs. Then sift in the flour and baking powder, fold together and stir through the milk and lemon juice.

Place three apricot halves and a generous spoonful of their syrup in the bottom of each mould. Top with the sponge mix but don’t fill it right to the top, as they rise quite a long way up. Cover each mould with a circle of baking parchment. These can sit in the fridge until you want to cook them. Place the moulds in a high-sided baking tray and fill the tray with boiling water to come halfway up the moulds. Cover the tray tightly with foil and bake for 35–40 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a skewer into the centre of the sponge; it should come out clean. Remove from the oven, take off the baking parchment and run your knife around each sponge. Flip them into bowls and serve with homemade custard, ice cream, crème fraîche or double cream.

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