Thursday, 29 May 2014

Plum and fig shortcake

Picture this: a small girl holding a pot of yoghurt in the backseat of her parent's car, "accidentally" putting her fingers through the foil top, and spilling it everywhere.  This was my first taste of yoghurt.  Unhappy memories 'cos mum yelled at me, and happy ones due to the weird, tangy, outrageous (to an 8 year old) flavour burst in my mouth.  See the small girl sucking it off her fingers, and not being sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing but determined to give it another go.  And yes I do now love yoghurt;  it is great for breakfast or with curries; plain or sweet and fruity.  Oh well, clearly not sweet and fruity with a curry!  I found an intriguing little tub of black plum and roasted fig yoghurt in my local grocer's recently, and thought to use it in a baked dessert.  You can make a shortcake with any number of different fruits, but I decided to go with plum and fig as I had been given some lovely dried figs by a friend.  (She is also a wonderful poet- see one of her poems here.)   I think it turned out rather well even if I do say so myself.  It was sweet and comforting, with some crunch from the nuts and the toffee.  And you can tell yourself it is good for you with all that yoghurt and fruit!
(Recipe for the original shortcake base came from here.)

Ingredients:

Before you do anything else, remember to soak your figs in liqueur for 4-6 hours before starting the recipe!

Shortcake base:

200g of butter at room temp.
1 cup caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp instant coffee granules
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice

Filling:

825g tin of plums well-drained and pitted-- (I just pitted them with my fingers; so much easier than a knife)
20g of chopped walnuts
6 dried and finely chopped figs that have been soaked in liqueur or juice or even the syrup from the plums for 4-6 hours - I used Frangelico which gave it a lovely nutty taste
150g of black plum and roasted fig yoghurt

Topping:

to the final third of the dough you add:

60g chopped walnuts
2 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp instant coffee granules

Yoghurt cream:

150mls whipped cream
150g black plum and roasted fig yoghurt

Toffee crackling:  (optional)

1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tbs water
1/3 cup chopped walnuts


Method:

Place the butter and sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl and beat them together till smooth and creamy
Throw in the egg, vanilla extract and coffee granules and give it another whiz with your electric beaters (or beat vigorously by hand) till well-mixed
Tip the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and mixed spice into the bowl and beat again for a short time, just to get the flour and spices incorporated--you will end up with a thick dough-like mixture; this is what you want!
Press 2/3 of this mixture into a lined pan- I used a throw-away foil pan, approx 26cm x 18cm.

Take your very well-drained, pitted plums and place them over the shortcake base
Add on the chopped walnuts, finely chopped figs (which have also been well-drained; cook's privilege to drink the remains) and spoon over the yoghurt

Now mix the other amount of chopped walnuts, the brown sugar and the coffee granules into the final third of the base mixture
Then take small handfuls of it and drop it in small clumps over the filling; it will spread out as it cooks
Bake for around 35-40 minutes at 180C till puffy and golden on top
Leave it in the pan to cool and serve either warm or room temp.

Serve with the yoghurt cream- equal amounts of whipped cream and yoghurt folded in together

Toffee crackling is optional but delicious!

Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan on a low heat and stir till sugar is dissolved
It will start to bubble so keep a good eye on it
Cease stirring and just watch it carefully, giving it an occasional swirl around the pan if you like
It will go golden very quickly and keep heating, so once it starts to go a lovely golden colour, take it off the heat and cool for a minute
Throw in the walnuts and pour it all onto a lined baking tray to cool completely
Take your rolling-pin or muddler and give it a few good whacks to shatter it
Sprinkle a few pieces-or lots-over your serve of shortcake.


creaming the butter and sugar; adding egg and vanilla

flour and spices go into the mix; base and filling squished into the pan

all topped off ready for the oven; yoghurt cream done; eat!

making the toffee crackling



(figs on the tree-photo by Vinshi)




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