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Fresh apricot cake is a subtle sweet

Although fresh fruit shortcakes are traditional during the strawberry and fresh peach seasons, this moist apricot cake should take its place with any dessert whenever apricots are available.

It is from Marjory Blanchard's book, ''Backyard Harvest'' (Bobbs-Merrill, $10 ) in which she gives all kinds of instructions for planting and tending an orchard in a suburban backyard or the smallest plot of land.

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Recipes to go with the fruits of the harvesting include dishes such as Applesauce Stuffing for Veal, Lemon Cheese Pie, and Orange Walnut Chicken. Anne's Apricot Cake 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup brown sugar 12 large apricots, pitted, halved (11/2 to 2 pounds) 1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup sugar 1 egg 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 cup plain yogurt 1 cup flour 11/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoons almond extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put 2 tablespoons butter into a 6 by 81/2 by 2 inch baking dish or any shallow oblong dish. Place dish in oven and heat until butter is melted. Sprinkle brown sugar over bottom of dish.

Arrange apricot halves over sugar. Cream together 1/2 cup butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg. Add soda to yogurt. Add baking powder to flour.

Beat yogurt and flour mixtures alternately into butter mixture. When smooth, blend in almond extract. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes until cake tests done. Serve warm with whipped cream.

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