S is for Shortcake

For the latest instalment of my A-Z baking challenge blog I've made an oldie but a goodie - shortcake.  Apricot shortcake.  It was my first time making shortcake & although I do like it with apricots, I think it would be even nicer with apples or berries such as blackcurrants (or both!).  Definitely best eaten warm & my husband rightly commented that it would be nice with some custard for a dessert. 

So I think next time I'll slice some Granny Smith apples (these are an Australian variety of tart, green cooking apples), lay them in the middle & lightly sprinkle them with sugar & cinnamon.  I think that would make quite a tasty dessert with some ice-cream or custard!  

The good thing about this recipe is that it's super easy to make & once you've tried it & realised how easy it is, you'll be able to use your imagination for next time & experiment with different fillings inside.  I also wonder what rhubarb would be like... I might try that one day too!

This recipe comes from one of my favourite books, 'Ladies a Plate - traditional home baking' by Alexa Johnston.  Page 92.

Righto - on to the recipe!


4 oz soft butter
1 cup sugar 
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup dried apricots (or other chosen fruit)

What to do
  1. Take the butter out of the fridge, measure & cut into cubes or slices.  Leave at room temperature to soften.  Take the egg out of the fridge & sit that somewhere safe so it warms to room temperature as well.
  2. Measure out the apricots, place them in a bowl & then cover with hot water.  Leave aside for around 30 mins to allow the apricots to soften.
  3. Next thing to do is have a fossick around for a shallow, round tin which is 20cm in diameter (or thereabouts).  The tin I used was a sponge tin of 18cm in diameter & just over 4cm in depth.   
  4. My tin was already a non-stick tin so I just sprayed it with cooking spray.  However, if it's an older tin & you're concerned about the shortcake sticking to it, give it a good spray with cooking spray or grease it with butter & then sprinkle it with flour.  Just to be on the safe side, put a circle of non-stick baking paper in the bottom as well. 
  5. Flick the oven on & heat it to 200 C static or 180 C fan bake.
  6. Once the butter & apricots are soft & you've prepared your tin, cream the butter & sugar using a freestanding or hand held electric mixer (or by hand if you're feeling really energetic!).  Beat in the egg & mix well.  Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl every now & then.
  7. Sift the flour & baking powder into the bowl with the butter mix (I'm sure I don't need to tell you to turn the mixer off first...).  Beat until everything is combined & you're left with a moist, soft dough.
  8. Now - because the dough is so soft, you need to clear a space on your bench & sprinkle a good handful of flour on to it.  Scrape the dough onto your floured bench & then with well floured hands, gently form the dough into a ball.  Cut it in half. (If the dough is sticking to your bench or hands, you need to use a little more flour - but not so much that you end up drying out the dough - it's meant to be soft.  You just need enough flour to stop it from sticking to the bench & your hands). 
  9. Gently pat down one half of the dough slightly so you have a rough disk shape & then lift it into your prepared tin.  With floured fingers, lightly press it into your tin making sure that it's nice & evenly spread out.
  10. Drain all the water from the apricots (I threw mine into a sieve & gave it a good shake!) & then lay the apricots evenly around the dough base.  
  11. Take the second piece of dough, again pat it into a rough disk & lift it gently into your tin.  With floured fingers, gently press the dough to cover the apricots so you have a nice even top.  
  12. Bake for around 30 mins, turning the tin half way through to ensure an even bake. You'll know when the shortcake is done - it'll be a nice golden colour all over & evenly risen.  
  13. Remove from the oven & cool in the tin for around 20 mins.  Turn the shortcake out on to a wire cooling wrack.
To serve, grab a plate & gently place it on top of the shortcake & flip it over so the shortcake is the right way up.  Sift some icing sugar over the top & serve warm or cold.  Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Enjoy! x


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