Apricot Cornmeal Cake
½ cup (125 ml) sunflower or extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the baking pan
1 cup (125 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the baking pan
½ cup (60 g) fine cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
1 large egg
½ cup half-and-half or whole milk
Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
1 cup (200 g) sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
¼ tsp. pure almond extract
6 ripe (but not mushy) apricots , halved and pitted (Ruby Queen plums, peach slices or perhaps berries, blueberries and blackberries and red raspberries are available)
¼ cup (30 g) sliced almonds
2 Tbs. (28 g) salted butter, at room temperature
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Heat the oven to 375° F (190° C). Lightly oil an 8-inch (20-cm) springform pan. Line the bottom with a round of parchment and oil it. Dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, egg, half-and-half, lemon zest, 1 cup sugar, and almond extract, mixing until thoroughly blended.
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Do not over-mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Set the pan in the oven to bake for 15 minutes.
Combine the sliced almonds, 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons butter in a small bowl and mix it all up with a fork or your fingers until it clumps together.
When the timer dings remove the partially baked cake from the oven and arrange the apricot halves on top, cut side up. Drop little clumps of the almond-butter mixture all over the surface of the cake, including on top of the apricot halves. Work carefully but quickly; you don't want the cake to cool too much.
Return the cake to the oven to finish baking for 40 to 45 minutes, until the topping is golden-brown and the cake is puffed up around the fruit. A cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean.
Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes. Remove the ring from the pan and let the cake cool another 30 to 45 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Carefully invert the cake onto another rack and remove the bottom and the round of parchment. Re-invert onto a serving platter.
Dust with confectioners' sugar right before serving and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you like.