Summer is racing on, and it’s nice to have had some properly hot days to remind us what it feels like.

Having said that, I’d rather not have spent the best part of one of those roasters on a cross-country train with broken air conditioning. I felt like a steamed hotdog. But the trip was worth it, and it was lovely to spend time with old school friends under the clear blue skies of Somerset, and gaze at the stars in a cloudless night sky.

But as summer speeds forward, so do the opportunities for new recipes, as ingredients move into their prime seasons

We’re just entering the, forgive the pun, sweet spot of apricot season and I’m delighted, because apricots are one of my absolute favourite fruits. Their flavour, sweet and uniquely perfumed, is unmistakeable, and lends itself to dishes across the whole range of cuisines and styles.

It makes jams, jellies and pies, yet at the same time sits beautifully when roasted with a lovely crackling joint of pork or a game bird wrapped in smoky streaky bacon. A fresh, ripe apricot, sliced into a bowl of ice-cold Greek yoghurt and drizzled with acacia honey? Ooh, what a treat.

It’s the perfect balance of sharpness and sweetness that makes it one of my favourite fruits to cook with, and this recipe is a great way to use the fruit at its best.

It’s a sort of mash-up of some of my favourite apricot recipes. Firstly, the classic French patisserie standard, the Tarte Aux Abricots, which you’ll see in almost every bakery in the land.

A simple disc of puff pastry spread thinly with almond frangipane, and topped with lightly sugared apricot halves.

Baked to golden perfection, it’s a sheer delight; crisp and sweet, but with an acidity that holds it all together and stops it being sickly. Similarly, upside-down cakes balance the tart fruit (plums, rhubarb, etc.) with a nice sweet, cake-y topping. And finally, the breakfasty delights of a fresh, buttery brioche loaf, spread thickly with unsalted butter and apricot jam – another personal favourite.

So, I combined all these ideas into a simple upside-down apricot brioche cake.

The tart, caramelised fruit is baked underneath a rich, buttery brioche, and when flipped over, soaks into the brioche, making a lovely, sticky cake full of all those tart, sugary, buttery flavours. Perfect with a little chilled whipped cream, clotted cream or a scoop of top-end vanilla ice-cream.

Apricots have never tasted better. A note here, the brioche is best is left to rise slowly overnight, so don’t forget to factor this into your preparations.

For the brioche:

250g strong white flour

25g caster sugar

5g fast-acting dried yeast

A pinch of Maldon salt

70ml full-fat milk

3 free-range eggs, beaten

125g unsalted butter

For the filling:

Approx 400g apricots

The juice of 1 lemon

150g unrefined golden caster sugar

45g unsalted butter


1 x 25-30cm tart case

Vanilla ice-cream


First, let’s make the brioche. Sift the flour into the bowl of a food mixer. Add the sugar, yeast, salt, milk and the egg, attach the dough hook, and mix on medium speed for about 8 minutes, until it comes together to form a smooth, soft dough.

Add the soft butter to the dough piece by piece and make sure each piece is incorporated before adding the next.

Put the dough into a large bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge overnight to allow a slow, steady rise.

The next day, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll out into a disc the size of your tart case.

Cover with clingfilm and allow to rise a little while you prepare the apricots. Preheat the oven to 200ºC / Gas 6.

Lightly butter the tart case. Halve the apricots and toss them in the lemon juice in a large bowl.

Heat a pan, add the sugar and enough hot water to just moisten the sugar.

Gently heat the pan and, when all the sugar is dissolved, raise the heat and bubble the syrup, undisturbed, as it heads towards the caramel stage. Soon, darker patches will appear in the pan. As they do, gently swirl the pan until the whole of the syrup is an even, hazelnut-coloured caramel.

Remove from the heat and add the butter, swirling it around and stirring with a wooden spoon. It will form a smooth thick sauce eventually.

Pour this into your tart case, making sure it goes all over the bottom of the case. Place the apricot halves, cut side down, on the caramel, snuggling them close to each other. Sprinkle over any juices that remain in the bowl.

Gently place the brioche disc over the apricots, tucking it over at the edges around the outside. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is well-risen and golden-brown, and the juices bubbling.

Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes on a wire rack. Carefully, and with oven gloves or similar, invert the cake onto a plate. Resist the temptation to remove the tart case immediately – we need to wait for gravity to help everything come loose. After 5 minutes, gently remove the tart case.

Retrieve any reluctant bits of fruit and pop them back in place.

Serve immediately, or allow to cool completely.