AN APRICOT tree laden with ripe fruit in late summer is a fine sight for any gardener. These beautiful buttery bakes complement the tart fruit perfectly.
The cut surfaces of an apricot tend to oxidise and lemon juice helps to halt the process. Even if they brown a little, they will still taste fabulous.
Cuts into 16 squares
2 level tablespoons apricot jam 450g apricots 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Plus: 250g plain flour 2 level teaspoons baking powder 75g butter, diced 75g golden caster sugar, plus more for finishing 1 medium egg, beaten 4 tablespoons milk
Method Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan oven) gas mark 6 or equivalent. You will need a buttered 20cm (8in) brownie tin or similar, bottom lined with greaseproof paper and cut to fit. Heat the jam gently in a heavy-bottomed pan until softening. Wash the apricots. Pat dry. Halve along the groove and remove the stone. Cut each half in two or three equal sections. Add to the pan. Squeeze over the lemon juice. Cook gently on a low heat turning carefully occasionally. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter, stir in the sugar and make a central well. Combine the egg and milk and pour into the dry ingredients. Gradually incorporate dry ingredients into the wet with a wooden spoon, then bring the mixture together with your hands. Gently knead into a smooth ball. Divide into two equal pieces. Roll the first piece gently into a rough rectangle the same size as the tin and press lightly over the bottom to make the base. Arrange the filling on top. Roll out a second piece of dough and cover the apricots. Sprinkle with more sugar and bake for approximately 20 minutes until risen and golden. Cool in the tin and mark into squares.
Apricot shortcake is a mouth-watering and fruity treat