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 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup dried apricots (or other chosen fruit)
What to do
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Flick the oven on & heat it to 200 C static or 180 C fan bake.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.