If you're lucky enought to have an apricot tree laden with fruit (or a neighbour with one!) this is a great way to use the bruised or ugly ones. Companies like Hakanoa Handmade and Six Barrel Soda Co. produce beautiful syrups which you could use as an alternative base for the topping. Just add 1/2 cup of Ginger Syrup in place of the raw ginger and reduce the amount of poached apricot juice you use to 3/4 cup.
Step 1. To Poach the Apricots
Place the sugar, water, lemon zest and juice, cinnamon stick, juniper berries and star anise in a large saucepan. Bring up to a simmer then add the apricot halves. Turn the heat down to low, and gently poach fruit for 10 minutes until it begins to soften. The apricots will be cooked again, so make sure they are still slightly firm. Remove from the heat and cool. Refridgerate until required.
Step 2. Thyme & Ginger Syrup
Place all the ingredients into a small saucepan and place on a medium heat. Simmer for 20 minutes and reduce by almost half. Pass through sieve.
Cool syrup and refrigerate until required.
Step 3: To Bake the Cake
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Place the first measure of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until frothy, nutty smelling and the milk solids have turned a deep golden brown. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
Place icing sugar, ground almond, flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a cake mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the egg whites and mix until combined. Add the brown butter (with all the solids) and mix on medium speed for 60 seconds. The batter should be thick.
Place a 25cm overproof skillet on medium heat, and evenly spread the sugar over the base, then leave it to colour. Once it begins to turn a caramel colour you can stir it to even the colouring, but not before that point as it will crystallise. When the sugar is a light amber colour, remove from the heat and add the second measure of butter to stop the caramel from burning.
Carefully place the apricots in the skillet, skin side down, fitting as many as possible side by side and overlapping them a little bit. Press flat with the palm of your hand and fill any large gaps with torn pieces of apricot.
Pour the batter over the apricots and bake for 40 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. Test with a skewer if required. Cool the cake in the skillet for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a board.
Step 4: To Serve
Cut thick slabs of cake, and serve with a dollop of creamy yoghurt and a generous drizzle of thyme and ginger syrup.
Photography: Kieran Scott