It’s apricot season once again!

Upside-down apricot cake (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Upside-down apricot cake
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
When I was little, whenever my parents wanted to tell my siblings and me that the unequivocal answer to our request was no, they would say in Arabic “Bukra fell mishmish,” which we understood to mean don’t even bother arguing with them. Years later, I found out that it literally means “Tomorrow, when it will be apricot season.” Now, we all know that apricot season is incredibly short, and so I guess what my parents meant with that phrase was: It ain’t never gonna happen.
Now that it actually is apricot season here in Israel, we can take advantage of this sweet, tangy orange-yellow fruit to make an assortment of creative cakes for our friends and family. Some apricots are hard, while others are soft, and this mostly depends on how long ago they were picked.
Apricots originated on the Russian-Chinese border around 3000 BCE, and are related to peaches and plums. The Romans transported apricots to Europe along the Silk Road, and the Spaniards then introduced them to the Americas. A large percentage of the world’s apricots currently grow in California, and Turkey and Greece are the main growers in the Middle East.
In Israel, apricots begin to ripen in May and June, and there are two main types: large orange “Ra’anana” apricots, and the smaller, yellow “Baladi” apricots. Apricot season usually lasts only about four to six weeks, when they suddenly disappear from the shelves of supermarkets, so now is the time to stock up, if you want to make dried apricots or jams for use throughout the year.
Apricots are rich in beta-carotene (which our body transforms into vitamin A), potassium, fiber, vitamin B, and iron.
A medium-sized apricot has about 48 calories, and its soursweet taste blends nicely with both savory and sweet flavors.
Here are four recipes for desserts incorporating apricots, which are best served cold and are perfect for a hot summer day.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
TiPascaleUse only soft apricots for baking.
• You can puree apricots and make fruit leather, jelly or cooked fruit puree from them.
• If you want to cut nice, clean pieces of apricot cake, place the knife in hot water before cutting each slice.
Upside-down apricot cake 
Base: ■ 2 Tbsp. butter, parve substitute or coconut oil ■ 1 Tbsp. brown or golden sugar ■ 12-13 fresh apricots, halved and pitted ■ 2 Tbsp. blanched almonds, ground ■ 1 Tbsp. coconut flakes Cake: ■ 1 tub labaneh, yogurt, sweet cream, or 200 ml. coconut cream ■ 3 large eggs ■ 1 tsp. vanilla extract or 2 packets vanilla sugar ■ ½ cup oil or 100 gr. butter, butter substitute, or coconut oil ■ 5 Tbsp. brown or golden sugar ■ 1½ cups flour or whole spelt flour ■ 1 packet baking powder Syrup: ■ ¼ cup warm water ■ 1 Tbsp. silan (date syrup) ■ 2-3 drops vanilla extract Decoration: ■ ¼ cup coconut flakes ■ ¼ cup almond slivers.
Directions: To make the base, grease a pan well on the bottom as well as on the sides. Sprinkle sugar on the bottom of the pan. Arrange the apricot halves in the pan, fitting in as many as possible, with the flat sides facing down. Sprinkle the almonds and coconut flakes on top of the apricots.
In a medium bowl, mix all the cake ingredients vigorously until mixed well. Pour the mixture over the apricots and make sure all the apricots are covered. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 170º.
Remove and let cool.
Take the serving plate and place it upside down on top of cake. Then flip over with the cake. If the cake doesn’t slip out of the pan easily, take apricot pieces that came apart and place them back in their slot on the cake.
In a bowl, mix syrup ingredients and then use a spoon to cover cake, spoonful by spoonful, between apricots. Decorate with coconut flakes and almonds.
Cheesecake with apricots and Jell-O
Ingredients: ■ 3 tubs (750 gr.) white cheese, ½% or 0% fat ■ 1 tub sour cream ■ 5 eggs, separated ■ 3 packets vanilla sugar ■ 1 Tbsp. lemon zest ■ 3 Tbsp. flour, sifted ■ 1 cup sugar ■ 10-12 apricot halves, from a can of preserves, drained ■ 1 package apricot Jell-O Directions: In a bowl, add cheese, sour cream, egg yolks, vanilla sugar, lemon zest, flour and ½ cup sugar. Mix well.
Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed and gradually add rest of sugar. Mix until stiff peaks appear. Then, fold the egg whites into the mixture in two or three segments and mix gently.
Apricot meringue cake Cream, apricot and Jell-O layer cake
Dough: ■ 2 medium eggs ■ ½ cup self-rising flour, sifted ■ 1 Tbsp. corn flour ■ ½ cup sugar ■ 1 packet sugar vanilla ■ ½ cup oil Cream: ■ 1 container (250 ml.) sweet cream ■ ½ cup milk ■ ½ packet instant vanilla pudding ■ 1 container (250 gr.) white cheese Topping: ■ Apricot slices or 1 cup apricot jelly ■ 1 box Jell-O, prepared according to directions In a large bowl, mix all the dough ingredients until smooth. Pour into a greased pan and bake at 170º for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and dry. Let cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the sweet cream with the instant pudding and milk until firm. Fold cream into mixture.
Spread cream on top of cooled cake.
Arrange the apricot slices or spread the apricot jelly on top of the cream. Put in the fridge to cool for an hour. Prepare Jell-O according to directions and pour it carefully on top of the chilled cake. Cover with aluminum foil and store in fridge for five hours before serving.
Ingredients: ■ 4 eggs, separated ■ 1¹⁄3 cups sugar ■ 1 packet sugar vanilla ■ ¹⁄3 cup oil ■ ¹⁄3 cup water ■ 1½ cups self-rising flour, sifted ■ 10 apricots, halved and pitted (fresh or canned) ■ ¼ cup sugar Directions: In a large bowl, add egg yolks, 1 cup of sugar and the vanilla sugar.
Mix well and alternately add a little oil and water. Add the flour and mix until smooth.
Pour mixture into a greased and floured pan. Dip the cut side of the apricot in sugar and place on top of the mixture. Bake for 45-50 minutes in an oven at 180˚ or until cake is golden brown and firm.
Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed. When peaks start to form, gradually add remaining sugar. Continue mixing until firm.
Spread the egg whites on top of the cake and bake for another 7-10 minutes until meringue turns golden. Let cool.