There are few things nicer in life, I think, than a perfect apricot, picked and eaten warm from the tree. Almost overpoweringly fragrant and juicy; ripe apricots are on another level to the cold, hard and mealy ones we all get stuck with from the shops from time to time (though if you do find yourself with a kilo or two of these, all's not lost - just dust them in cinnamon sugar, dot with butter and roast for a bit - they'll come up beautifully).
Here in Orange, many orchards have just finished picking their apricots. These locally harvested ones can be found at our monthly markets (which are on tomorrow morning) and shops like The Agrestic Grocer and Hillside Harvest. And they are superb.
We went straight to the source the other day and asked some friends, who happen to have their own orchard, if we could please come and pick a basket or two. This family have 800 or so apricot trees on the slopes of Mount Canobolas and a pretty incredible view too. Our kids are at school together and so they all had a ball picking and playing while we did the same.
It almost seems a shame to do anything with perfectly ripe apricots like these, being as they are, just perfect on their own. But because I was in a baking mood on the weekend, a handful or so of our haul, were tucked into soft discs of brioche dough, sprinkled with sugar and baked until collapsed on their buttery base. And actually, they were one of the best things I've made all year. Though as we're only a few days in that's not saying much. Kidding, they were amazing.
There are plenty more apricot recipes here in the archives too; including recipes for apricot ice cream, apricot chicken, apricot frangipane tart and apricot curd.There's also one for apricot and vanilla jam, this was one of the first recipes I ever posted here on the blog and is still a favourite of many lovely readers!
Brioche isn't a particularly useful thing to make; a little too rich for breakfast and not really sweet enough for pudding. But in my opinion, absolutely perfect for a nice little brunch or morning tea.
It's also a real joy to make. Rich, golden and bursting with butter, I love working with this dough and the way it makes my hands feel and smell. I love and the gradual process of rising, shaping and pressing into smooth round discs. And of course, I love the end result.
Apricot BriocheYou can swap the apricots with pretty much any seasonal fruit, figs would be beautiful here as would berries or sliced peaches. If making these for brunch, just make up the dough the night before then divide up into smaller balls when you wake up, let them rest for a couple of hours and pop in the oven just before your friends arrive and/or you fancy eating them. This recipe is adapted from one in my new favourite cookbook Huckleberry. If you like baking, then you'll absolutely love this one.
4 tbsp full fat milk
2 tbsp active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups 00 baking flour (plain is ok too if that’s what you have)
1/4 cup caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tsp sea salt
5 eggs, beaten
220g unsalted butter, cubes, very soft
1/2 cup almond flakes
Warm the milk just a little then place in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook. Sprinkle in the yeast and whisk to combine. Set aside for a few minutes or until frothy. Add the flour, sugar, salt and eggs then mix on low for a few minutes or until the dough comes together.
Increase the speed a little and work the dough for five minutes, stopping every now and then to scrape the dough down from the sides of the bowl.
Now, reduce the mixer speed again to low and add the butter a little at at time. Pausing every now and then to scrape any dough down the sides of the bowl. Mix until all the butter is completely integrated into the dough and you have a beautiful smooth mixture. Remove from the mixer bowl and with lightly floured hands, work into a ball.
Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with plastic and place overnight in the fridge.
The next morning, take your dough out of the fridge and gently cut into four or six small balls, depending on how big you want them and how many you want!
Gently work the first piece of dough into a smooth dough, pinching the sides down to the base so the sides are all even. Then, using the heel of your palm, flatten the first into a disc (keep the remaining covered with a damp tea towel while you work), with a gentle indentation in the middle. Place on a greased, lined baking tray and repeat with the remaining dough.
Cover loosely with plastic and set aside at room temperature again for two hours. After an hour and a half, preheat the oven to 180C. Slice the apricots into halves or quarters and arrange in the indent of each brioche.
To make the egg wash, combine two tbsp double cream with 1 egg and whisk well. Brush this over your brioche and then sprinkle liberally with the extra sugar and the almond flakes.
Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the brioche are golden brown. Serve straight away!