A drum-shaped nut grinder is the best tool for grinding pecans. You can also use a food processor; add one tablespoon of the flour, and process in pulses.
- Unsalted butter, for pans
- 2/3 cup sifted plus 1 tablespoon cake flour, (not self-rising), plus more for pans
- 1 1/2 cups pecans
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups chunky apricot preserves
- 1/2 cup dried apricots
- Confectioners' sugar, for decorating
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Toast pecans for 5 to 6 minutes, or until they release their aroma. Cool completely, and grind to a fine powder. Place in a bowl; combine with flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks with half the granulated sugar until mixture is thick and pale and holds a 1-second ribbon. Beat in vanilla, and set aside.
- In a clean bowl, whip egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Add remaining sugar; beat until stiff peaks form again.
- Stir 1 cup of the whites into yolk mixture. Place a quarter of remaining whites on top, and sprinkle with a quarter of the flour-nut mixture. Fold in quickly. Repeat until both flour and whites are used up. Turn batter into pan, and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then unmold.
- When cake is completely cool, invert and split into two layers with a serrated knife. Warm preserves; spoon 1 1/2 cups onto bottom layer. Replace top layer. Strain remaining preserves, and brush onto sides. Decorate cake with confectioners' sugar. Note: To make a chunkier preserve filling, simmer 1/2 cup dried apricots cut in pieces in water until soft, and add to warm preserves.
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