Apricot Shortcake


I was preparing to make my favorite apricot tart for dessert tonight when I  stopped, as though held back by an invisible hand.  This never happens to me.  I love everything about the process of making a tart, from measuring the flour (I know, but I love to do it!), to rolling out the pastry, to fitting it into the tart pan, to inhaling the aroma of it baking.  Eating it is the cherry on top.

But today I wanted something different, and that invisible hand gave me the answer. Instead of baking the fragrant apricots into a buttery pastry, I wanted to pour them over shortcake.  It’s shortcake season, after all. Usually I stay traditional and top mine with strawberries that are mixed with just enough sugar to pull their juices from them, so they stain the shortcake and make it almost juicy.  But today, the apricots beckoned.

Step 1 was to sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the apricots once I’d cut them, so that their juices, too, would emerge.  Then I made the shortcake, folding the dough like puff pastry to ensure its buttery tenderness.

Just before serving the shortcake I whipped the cream, added some vanilla sugar, and put in a big bowl so everyone could garnish their own.  When I served the plates, conversation stopped.  I knew why.  What is more beautiful than a Rouge de Roussillon apricot teamed with a Mara des Bois strawberry, perched on tender shortcake, topped with a cloud of vanilla cream? Nothing, except the unbelievable flavors that follow.

apri shortcake

Servings: 8 people
  • 1 pound apricots pit removed, sliced into 6ths, 500g
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
For the shortcake:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 130g
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons sugar 70g
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter chilled, 3 oz.; 90g
  • 1 cup heavy non ultra-pasteurized cream, 250ml
For the Crème Fraîche:
  • 1 cup heavy non ultra-pasteurized cream, 250ml
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar ground fine, 25g
For garnish:
  • 16-24 strawberries
  1. Combine the apricots and the tablespoon of sugar in a medium bowl, toss, and set aside for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Chill a large-size bowl and a whisk or whisk attachment or rotary blades of an electric mixer (for whipping the cream).
  3. In a large bowl, or in a food processor, combine both flours with the salt, baking powder, and 4 tablespoons of the sugar. Stir well, or process once or twice, to mix. Add the butter and process, or cut it in with a pastry blender or two knives until it ranges from the size of coarse cornmeal to the size of a pea. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, add the cream all at once, and lightly mix until the dough gathers together but does not completely adhere. Be very careful not to overmix.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, dust it lightly with flour, and press it down with a rolling pin until it is somewhat rectangular in shape and about ½ inch (1.3 cm) thick. Fold it in thirds like a business letter, and turn it one quarter turn (90 degrees). Lightly flour it and gently press it out again until it is an even rectangle about ½ inch (1.3 cm) thick, fold it in thirds, and turn it another quarter turn. Lightly flour the dough again if necessary to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin, and roll it out to form a very even rectangle measuring 6 x 12 inches (15 x 30cm). Cut it in half, crosswise, then cut an X through each half so that you have eight triangular pieces. Sprinkle the pieces with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, leaving about ¼ inch (1/2 cm) between them. Bake in the center of the oven until the shortcakes are golden and puffed, about 12 minutes. Slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet and onto a wire rack to cool.
  5. Whisk the cream in the chilled bowl until it holds a stiff peak. Whisk in the sugar and taste - add additional sugar if necessary.
  6. To serve, arrange a piece of shortcake on the center of each of six plates. Top with equal amounts of apricots, and a dollop of cream. Garnish with the strawberries.





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