July 15, 2009
One of my dearest friends turns 30 today, and so, because I can't be there to celebrate with him, I set out this afternoon to make him an e-cake. Really, if I were making a cake for this friend, knowing he would eat it, it would be something slim and elegant, dark with the darkest of chocolate, a touch of alcohol, maybe the faintest taste of orange. But since he's not here, I ended up with this instead: an apple and blueberry shortcake that's really, let's face it, a pie.
It's Bill Granger's fault that I started out making a cake and ended up with a pie, but it would be ungracious of me to complain, because this cake/pie is so very good. In fact, now that I think further on the issue of the cake/pie, the final effect is something more like an enormous, soft and delicious cookie stuffed with stewed apple and blueberries. I'm certain my friend would approve, and so I offer it to him with love: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
I was halfway through making this when I remembered that the springform cake pan I assumed I had ready to use was actually in storage a few thousand miles away. So I made mine a little more free-form, just laying baking paper down on a flat baking sheet and forming the shortcake on top of that. I'm sure using the tin, as Granger's recipe instructs, would result in a slightly more cake-like cake - I'm certain mine spread more than it might have otherwise, resulting in the (I think, rather charming) globular effect on top. (The person I did share this cake with, who is not celebrating a birthday today, referred to these with affection as the cake's "boobs". I was reminded of this statue.)
Apple & Blueberry Shortcake
from Bill's Food, by Bill Granger*
4 large Granny Smith apples
finely grated zest from 1 lemon
2 tbsp sugar
125g (4 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
125g (1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
185g (1 1/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tsp baking powder
155g (1 cup) blueberries
demerara or granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Peel and core the apples, then cut into about 16 slices. Put the apples, lemon zest, the 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water into a medium saucepan, then cover and stew over a low heat for about 10 minutes, until the apples are soft but not mushy. Allow to cool.
Cream the butter and caster sugar together in a bowl until fluffy and smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Sift the flour and baking baking powder into the mixture and stir until combined. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Divide into two and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / gas 4. Roll each half of cake dough into a circle approximately 22cm (8 1/2 inch) across. Press one circle into a 24cm (9 inch) non-stick springform cake tin. Spread the apples over the dough, leaving a small border around the edge. Sprinkle with blueberries. Place the other round of dough on top and press the edges together. Brush with water and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, then allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before removing. Serve with cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 8 to 10.
* I actually just remembered that this book was a gift from my birthday friend! That was a lovely accident.