Baked Apricots with Buttered Breadcrumbs
The Savory Way by Deborah Madison
If you're longing for the kind of tree-ripened apricot you tasted in California or France but have only underripe fruit available, this recipe offers an approximation. Baking greatly improves the slightly green fruit we find in our markets, almost ripening it in the oven. But include some ripe apricots as well if you can. Their flavor is incomparable, and they break down to make a little sauce for the dish.
When I first made this recipe, I didn't use the bread crumbs but, following the advice of Elizabeth David, set the apricots in a pan over a piece of vanilla bean, added a little water, sprinkled them with sugar, and baked them. The apricots tasted wonderful, but they collapsed completely and looked rather unappealing. The covering of bread crumbs helps protect them and makes a fragile, buttery crust. It's a little like eating warm fresh jam with toast. The simpler version though, uses no butter. The cooked fruits are delicious served chilled with Ricotta Cream Cheese.
Makes 4 modest servings
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh apricots
- 4 to 5 tablespoons vanilla sugar or plain sugar plus a 2-inch vanilla bean
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 cups fresh bread crumbs made from white bread
- 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Wash the apricots, slice them in half, discard the pits, and toss them with the sugar. Put the water in the bottom of a glass pie plate or baking dish. If you're using the vanilla bean, slice it in half lengthwise and lay it in the water; then set the apricots on top. Toss the bread crumbs and melted butter together; then spread them over the apricots. Bake until the bread crumbs are just lightly browned and the fruit tender, about 25 minutes. Let the dessert settle and cool before serving it warm with a pitcher of cream or a bowlful of lightly whipped cream sweetened with sugar and a drop of vanilla.
Excerpted from THE SAVORY WAY by Deborah Madison Copyright© 1998 by Deborah Madison. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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