With the cool, crisp weather we’ve been having lately, my desire for warm, comforting food has only increased. Because to be honest, comfort food is always a winner no matter what the season. For me baking is the ultimate in comfort food. While I love a buttery cupcake, or a creamy cheescake, there is something about fruit and pastry that warms the cockles of your heart. Especially when you make sure it’s sweet, oozy, jammy fruit and rich, crumbly shortcake. Drizzled with some thick cream and you have yourself the perfect winter warmer treat.
This cake uses apricots and blackberries, but feel free to play around with other stone fruits and berries that are in season, as it is hard to go wrong. Macerating the fruit slightly in the lemon and brown sugar helps it to soften and lets those flavours sink in before they are developed further and intensified in the oven. The addition of clove adds a subtle spice and the almond meal keeps the cake from being too heavy. While this cake has a few steps, each of them is easy and you should be able to get this out of the oven within an hour which is perfect for when those cravings come calling.
Apricot and Blackberry Shortcake
Adapted from a recipe by Karen Martini in goodfood.com
8 large ripe apricots (can used can if not in season)
3 tbsp light brown sugar, plus extra to garnish
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 punnet blackberries (if using frozen, ensure they are thawed first)
1 handful toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
150g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
100g almond meal
1/2 tsp ground cloves
160g butter, room temp
140g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a 22- to 24-centimetre springform tin.
2. For the filling, slice the apricots in half and pit. Place the halves into a ceramic dish and toss with brown sugar and lemon juice. Allow to sit, cut-side down, for 10 minutes, then bake for 25 minutes or until the apricots are just starting to collapse. Remove apricots and set aside on kitchen paper. If using canned apricots, you can don’t need to bake them, just place them in the lemon juice and sugar mix and leave aside until required.
3. For the shortcake, mix the flour, cornflour, baking powder, almond meal and cloves together.
4. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until pale and light. Beat in the egg, then add the flour mix and thoroughly combine to a thick paste.
5. Scoop two-thirds of the shortcake into the tin and press into base and up sides in the shape of a shallow basin. Place apricots on the dough, cut-side up, scatter over the blackberries, and dab pinches of the remaining shortcake over the top, leaving some fruit showing.
6. Sprinkle some extra brown sugar and the hazelnuts on the shortcake blobs and bake for 30-40 minutes or until light golden. Allow to cool a little before unmoulding and slicing.