Fruit Shortcake

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Fruit Shortcake


This is the kind of slice that’s perfect for a picnic or to transport to a friend’s place for afternoon tea. It’s fab with copious cups of hot tea, but it also works as a dessert, served still warm, with a melting blob of vanilla ice cream or a jug of runny cream on the side. It’ll keep for 2-3 days in a cake tin.

Serves: Makes 24 or more slices


Fruit topping
200g (7 oz) dried figs
250g (about 8 oz) dried apricots
250g (about 8 oz) pitted prunes
½ cup brown sugar
25g (1 oz) butter

¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
100g (3½ oz) butter
2 Tbsp sugar (superfine granulated)
1 large (size 7) free-range egg, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup water
1½ cups standard flour
Pinch of salt
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda


1 Cut figs in half through the middle, removing hard stalks. Soak figs in hot water to cover for 2 hours, or until tender, then drain. Soak apricots and prunes in hot water for 1 hour, then drain. Mop fruit gently with paper towels. Line a Swiss roll tin (jelly roll pan) with baking (parchment) paper, then arrange fruit in a pattern on top (the fruit will become the top of the shortcake). Sprinkle with brown sugar, then spoon over melted butter.

2 Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). To make the base, warm condensed milk and butter together until butter has just melted; either do this in a microwave, or in a small saucepan, then transfer to a bowl. Beat in sugar, egg, vanilla and water. Sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together onto a piece of paper, then sift the dry ingredients over the top of the liquid ingredients in the bowl. Mix together with a large spoon, then beat briefly until a smooth batter forms. Pour batter over fruit, spreading it to cover the fruit with a knife.

3 Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake batter is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with a finger. Leave in the tin for 15 minutes, then invert onto a cake rack and peel off paper. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into slices.

Fruit Shortcake
Peel back the paper to reveal the dried fruit topping.

Recipe Notes

The shortcake can also be made with apples. You’ll need 4-5 tart apples such as Granny Smith, peeled, halved, cored and thinly sliced.

A confession: I was texting my daughter Ilaria throughout making the shortcake. I should know better! I got the shortcake in the oven, and Oh-Oh, you know that sinking feeling … I could see the egg still on the benchtop. I had thought the mixture was a little firmer than it should have been when I spread it with the knife, but it still worked. Lucky! It was a little denser than it should have been, but as always if you keep these things to yourself at serving time, no one will be any wiser!

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