When I was in primary school we lived on Sydney’s North Shore in a suburb called Lindfield. If we won lotto I would probably spontaneously start looking at houses in Lindfield such is my love of that place, nevermind it is 30 years later and it has changed more than I care to accept or that our lives are now firmly etched into Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Lindfield and indeed the North Shore calls me back time and time again.
Every slice needs a good foundation
We had a little row of shops just across from the train station. There was Mr Steenbolm’s chemist, our doctor down the laneway, an old lady’s dress shop, a milk bar (owned by the compulsory and seemingly only Greek family in the area) and best of all, the cake shop. Most Saturday’s mum would take my brother and I to the cake shop for a treat. Mine? A pineapple passionfruit tart while my brother used to get a sausage roll. My GOD those sausage rolls were good.
There was a glass L-shaped counter, one side taken up solely with display cakes for birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations. Remember when you would get those little figurines to sit on the top of the cake? I still have the ballerinas and Mum still has the cricketers that appeared on our respective cakes for years.
The other side was a hotbed of mock cream and sugar. Neenish tarts, Pineapple Passionfruit tarts, those marzipan green frog tarts (which I once begged mum for and proceeded to scar me for life on all things marzipan), palmiers, meringue mice, big fat wedges of vanilla slice, custard tarts showered in nutmeg, gingerbread men and a sugar topped apple slice. I must confess that apple slice never piqued my imagination as there was so much else vying for my attention. But then Fiona at Inner Pickle posted a recipe for an apple slice and all of a sudden I was 8 and back in that cake shop.
Ready for cookin’
This is now on such high rotation in our house that if there is none people, Jasper in particular, get antsy. It is his absolute favourite above all else. It has kicked my lemon curd slice to the curb and THAT is saying something.
Get in my mouth
Fiona at Inner Pickle
- 2 cups plain flour
- 2tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 125g butter
- 1 egg
- 2 cups of stewed apples (no added sugar)
- Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 27x13cm tin (I just make mine in a 20cm square tin)
- Process the flour, baking powder, sugar and butter in a food processor and then add the egg (don’t worry that the dough seems quite crumbly, it comes together)
- Divide the dough in two and roll out to fit the tin
- Top with the apple, then roll out the other half of pastry and place over the top (don’t get precious about it, if it breaks it breaks, I call this “rustic”)
- Brush the top with some milk and then scatter over caster sugar
- Bake for 25minutes
- Leave it in the tin and don’t cut it until it’s cool (it will totally fall apart if you do, ask me how I know) then store in the fridge.
So good. So very very good.
Straight from the oven
I adore shortbread. Far more than standard biscuits. Something to do with the mealy buttery nature of them I suspect. This is in the current issue of Donna Hay magazine and as soon as I saw them I knew I must bake them.
Donna Hay Magazine
- 150g butter
- 1/3 cup icing sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 3/4 cups plain flour
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 2/3 cup icing sugar
- Beat the butter and sugar for 8-10 minutes until pale and creamy
- Add lemon juice, zest and vanilla
- Add the flour and cornflour and beat until a smooth dough forms
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 pieces
- Roll into 2x20cm logs, wrap in cling film and freeze for 30 minutes
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Cut dough into 1cm thick rounds
- Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden
- Gently toss the warm shortbreads in the extra icing sugar, cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.
So the first time I made these, which granted has been the only time but I’m so making them again because oh my they are good, the recipe is all wrong. Well, by ‘all wrong’ I mean not enough. But then maybe it was just me, however it’s the second recipe I’ve made from Apples for Jam and I’ve found both recipes need a bit of tweaking in terms of process or quantity rather than the outcome, which has always been delicious.
Anyway, I saw this prior to Christmas and it stayed in the forefront of my cooking (and eating) desires right through that festive season.
As you can see from the picture below, there was simply not enough shortbread dough to cover the entire tray – so in the recipe below I’ve doubled the original as this should do it.
In the original recipe Tessa Kiros says any jam can be used but a fig jam is particularly special. I happened to have a jar of Fig and Ginger Jam in the fridge (a gift to mum that she regifted to me) and indeed, it was special. But somehow I think it needs a red jam, just to look pretty against the buttery shortbread goodness that encases it.
Adapted from Apples for Jam
- 200g butter, softened
- 200g caster sugar
- 400g plain flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- a few drops vanilla
- about 200g of your favourite jam
- Preheat the oven to 170C and line a 30x40cm baking tray so there is a decent overhang (you’ll need this once it’s cooked to lift it out)
- Cream the butter and sugar by hand
- Add the flour and baking powder
- Add the eggs and vanilla and knead them until it is all compact and smooth
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour or until the dough is firm enough to roll out
- Divide the dough in half and roll each half to about 2-3mm thickness on a lightly floured surface (I do this between two sheets of greaseproof paper because I can never get any form of pastry or dough off the surface in one neat piece otherwise. I then simply lift the piece up on the paper and invert it over the dish or tray it’s going into.)
- Spread over the jam then roll out the other half of the dough and place over the top
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until the shortbread is turning golden
- Remove from the oven and let rest for five minutes, then lift out using the baking paper as a lever
- Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter or simple squares or diamonds, or indeed, just cut chunks off as you walk by.
It makes about 12-15 pieces and it will (apparently) keep for five to six days