Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Vanilla Cake with Apricots and Saving Katie's life

I saved my friend's life the other day.  We were outside waiting for our lunch and that is when it happened.  A giant spruce beetle landed on her chair.  I calmly told her to lean forward, I grabbed a pouch out of my purse, and after only about 20 seconds of hyperventilating, I brushed it off her chair.  She stepped on it.  So you see, I saved her life.

Spruce beetles are the nastiest things.  Some people say they pinch or bite and call them pincher bugs.  They come out in Fairbanks in the first warm part of the summer, usually in June and so they are also called June bugs.  The worse thing about them is they have barbs on their legs so when they fly into your hair and you hysterically try to brush them out (not me, I ALWAYS stay calm), they come out in pieces and the legs stay stuck in your hair.  Nice.

I usually don't go outside the three or four days these beetles are at their height.  But this summer has been a little unusual with the cold May, hot June and spotty July so we haven't seen lots of them yet.

A few summers ago, I was driving home and felt a tickle on my leg.  I looked down and a GIANT spruce beetle was climbing up my leg, toward the opening of the bottom of my capris.  I had to do something fast.  The next stoplight I came to, I stopped, flung the car in park (it doesn't matter the light was green), jumped out, brushed the bug off my leg, jumped around a little bit (o.k. a lot), waved at the car behind me, jumped around a little more, leaped into my car and dashed through the yellow/red light.  I was safe from the big, bad bug and I would never have to see the people in the car behind me ever again...

As I was tearfully  relating the story to my husband, THE CAR THAT WAS BEHIND ME AT THE LIGHT TURNED THE CORNER OF OUR STREET!  Were they mad because I stranded them at the red light?  Were they hunting me down?  "That's the car." I yelled over my shoulder as I headed inside.

I peeked out the living room windows to see my husband talking to the driver of the car and laughing!  It was our neighbor who lives two doors down from us.  My husband was laughing because he said, "I've never seen a white girl dance like that."  Ha Ha Ha.  My life was in danger there folks, that bug could have killed me by chewing off my knees or something.

So, after letting everyone at work know I saved Katie's life, and reliving the bug-on-my-leg-and-dancing-in-the-street story, I believe I have earned a treat.

I made these little cakes and topped them with fresh apricots.  They were delicious, they were small, and they were the perfect thing for a hero like me!

Apricot Cakes
from Bon Appetit, June 2013

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 apricots, halved, pitted, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar

Special Equipment

  • A standard 12-cup muffin pan


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Coat muffin cups with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in another medium bowl, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat until combined.
  • With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Divide batter among muffin cups (cups will be only 1/3 full) and smooth tops. Top with apricot slices and sprinkle with raw sugar.
  • Bake until cakes are golden and a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 20–25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let pan cool 5 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack and let cool completely.

July 24, 2013   Srise: 4:24 am  Sset 11:28 pm (-6min. 51 sec.)  Temp H 74/ L 57°F

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