Spiced fruit shortcake
1/2 cup sultanas
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots (optional)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp balsamic or wine vinegar
3 large apples, peeled and cubed
about 1 Tbsp custard powder
Base & Topping:
100g softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups standard (plain) flour
2 tsp baking powder
This is a plain shortcake with an interesting spicy filling. It may be made ahead and frozen in one large piece or individual squares, if desired.
Heat oven to 180°C (170°C fanbake), with the rack just below the middle. Line the base and sides of a 23cm square loose bottomed baking pan with baking paper.
For filling, mix the sultanas, apricots (if using), sugar, spice and cloves together in a frypan. Add the orange juice, vinegar and the apple cubes.
Cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes, then thicken with the custard powder (which you have mixed to a paste with a little cold water), until filling is thick enough to keep its shape. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
For base and topping, beat the soft butter, sugar and egg until light and creamy, then mix in the sifted dry ingredients, making a soft dough. Cut the dough in half and chill half in refrigerator or freezer.
Pat out the other piece of dough on the baking paper to fit the bottom of the pan, using enough extra flour to stop it sticking.
Spread the thickened, cooled filling on the base. Roll out the other half of the dough and place on top of filling, or grate coarsely over the top. (The grated topping flattens as the shortcake cooks.)
Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the centre feels firm. Sprinkle with icing sugar before cutting.
Serve warm in large pieces, with whipped cream or ice-cream, or cut in smaller pieces to eat cold, over the next two or three days. Store in the refrigerator.