I had my first strawberry shortcake last fourth of July. I was blown away for a few reasons - one being that it was amazing, but the second being that I hadn't had it before. It's just not a thing in New Zealand. We have scones, which are different to American scones, in that they are more like a biscuit. We call cookies biscuits. It gets confusing fast. The closest we probably get to a strawberry shortcake is a scone with jam and cream, but that isn't the same.
What we refer to as 'shortcake' in New Zealand is two layers of short pastry, filled with some sort of fruit filling. Generally this is apple, and most New Zealand Grandmas have a banging recipe for it. It is drowned in icing sugar, and perfect for heroing seasonal fruit, or using up fruit that is a little worse for wear.
I have subbed the traditional apple filling for apricots, which have just started to pop up in NYC! Yaaaay for stone fruit season! Finally. Finally I can think about fruit without having to consider the over-wintered apples and pears, and start to incorporate fresh stuff into my recipes! Going to make all of the pies this year. All of them. The great thing about this recipe is that it is super versatile - i've had it with rhubarb before, and am definitely going to try it with plum or peach this season!
This is a fairly quick thing to throw together, if you don't count the 45 minutes needed for resting the dough. A quick short crust, with a hint of vanilla bean is mixed together, rolled out and placed in a pan. We then add a layer of apricots, with just enough sugar to take the edge off, and cover it with a second piece of pastry. It is then baked until golden brown, and soon after cooling, is ready to enjoy! It's the best, I hope you try it!
A few wee notes:
- The pastry can seem a little fragile / crumbly. If you do get a little tear or hole in it, don't worry too much, just patch it up, it will all bake up nicely in the oven!
- If your peaches aren't quite ripe, add a little more sugar in the filling. With that being said if they are very ripe, hold back a little on the sugar.
- Make sure this is cooled completely in the tin before you remove it for slicing!
- If you store this in an airtight container the shortbread will go soft, so if you would like it to stay a little crispy, store this out of a container lightly covered with a paper towel.
- Makes 16 squares-
2 cups (300g) flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp cornflour / cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
125g (9 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cold, diced
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1-2 Tbsp milk
600g (21oz) fresh apricots
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 c (50g) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
- PROCESS -
Place the flour, baking powder, cornflour, salt, and sugar in a bowl, and mix to combine. Add the butter and rub in using your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg, vanilla and one tablespoon of the milk, and mix until a stiff dough forms. Add the second tablespoon of the milk if it seems too dry. Divide the dough into two pieces, and form each into a rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap, and allow to rest in the fridge for 45 minutes to an hour.
Remove the stones from the apricots, and cut each half into approx eight pieces. Add to a bowl and toss with the sugar, flour and vanilla. Set aside while you roll the pastry.
Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Line a 9" square pan with two sheets of parchment paper, so you have four 'wings' to remove the shortcake once it is cool. Remove the dough from the fridge. Roll each piece out to approx the same size as the tin. Place the first piece of dough in the tin, trimming where necessary, and patching up in any spots if needed. Pour the apricot filling over the pastry, flattening gently. Top with the second piece of pastry.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling slightly. Allow to cool completely in the tin. Remove from the tin using the parchment wings, and dust liberally with icing sugar before cutting into squares.