We've all heard horror stories about microwaved coffeecakes. The good news is that microwaved coffeecakes are moister, taller and more uniformly fine in texture than those baked in conventional ovens. Also, they cook 66% faster.
To simulate a brown crust, grease the baking pan with vegetable shortening, unsalted butter or margarine (not oil--since crumbs won't stick to it), then coat evenly with fine graham cracker or gingersnap crumbs.
To keep fruits and nuts from plummeting to the bottom of coffeecakes, mince them fairly fine and toss them with the dry ingredients.
To make coffeecakes cook evenly, spread the batter smoothly in the pan. Also use a turntable centered on the oven shelf. Failing that, elevate a turntable on an upside-down shallow bowl, and if you have neither turntable nor shelf, elevate the pan and rotate it during microwaving. It's often best, too, to microwave coffeecakes in ring-shaped containers. So what if they resemble giant doughnuts?
To complete the cooking of a coffeecake after microwaving, let it stand flat on a heat-resistant surface--the handiest is the floor of the turned-off microwave oven. This conducts heat back into the coffeecake, especially the bottom, which is the last to cook, and also gives the top time to dry.
To minimize stickiness, cool coffeecakes before turning them out. And to keep their moist tops from sticking to cooling racks, turn the loaves right-side-up on serving plates at once. And finally, to keep coffeecakes from drying after they microwave, cool them loosely covered with cloth or paper toweling, then wrap airtight.
ALMOND-APRICOT BUNDT BREAD
2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted blanched almonds
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl, add brown sugar and rub between fingers to break up lumps. Add almonds and apricots and toss. Make well in center of dry ingredients.
Combine milk, oil, egg and almond extract. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Spoon batter into 9-inch (8- to 10-cup) microwave-safe Bundt pan that has been greased and then coated evenly with graham cracker crumbs, spreading evenly and taking care not to dislodge crumbs.
Center pan on turntable on oven shelf or elevate on upside-down shallow bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on MEDIUM (50% power) 8 minutes, rotating pan 180 degrees after 4 minutes if not using turntable.
Rotate pan 180 degrees again (if not using turntable) and microwave on MEDIUM-HIGH (70% power) 1 to 2 1/4 minutes until bread is springy and wood pick inserted in bread comes out clean. Moist spots on surface will dry as cake stands.
Let bread stand, uncovered, 15 minutes, loosen carefully and invert on serving plate. Cover loosely with cloth and cool to room temperature. Makes 12 servings.
Note: In ovens of less than 600 watts, increase cooking time about 15%.