Thursday, 29 November 2012

Gooseberry shortcake ~

It is now the beginning of the gooseberry season, and I have had the great good fortune to be given a bag of this delicious fruit by a friend.  I love them as preserves and jam but decided to celebrate the beginning of the season by searching out a new recipe.  I found one similar to this and adapted it.  It is scrumptious.

Here it is dusted with icing sugar and ready to serve.

~ RECIPE (slightly) REVISED DECEMBER 2014 ~

I bake the shortcake in a round pie tin which is 20cm / 8 inches in diameterThe recipe fills this sized tin perfectly.  It could also be baked on an oven tray

The shortcake is a form of short pastry, and very light and delicious:
  • Flour, plain / standard: 225 grams / 8 ounces / 2 cups
  • Butter: 125 grams / 4 ounces
  • Baking powder / 1 teaspoon
  • Egg: 2
  • Sugar: 2 dessert spoons
This is the filling:
  • Gooseberries, chopped in half: I used approximately 230 grams / 8 ounces.
  • Sugar to toss with chopped gooseberries - I used about half a cup / 125 grams
  • Some fresh, finely chopped mint leaves if you feel inclined - I love mint with gooseberries!
(Note that this is a fruit-to-sugar ratio of about 2 to 1, whereas the ratio I use for preserves is 3 to 1.)

The mint is a special ingredient: it makes an excellent combination with gooseberries, drawing out their delicate flavour!

  • Finely chop the mint leaves - if you want to include them
  • In a medium sized bowl combine the mint with the sugar
  • Chop the gooseberries in half and add them to the sugar and mint and toss them
  • Set these aside while you make the pastry, stirring from time to time, which will coat the gooseberries with the sugar and mint.  The sugar is likely to liquify somewhat.
  • Grate the cold butter, put it in a bowl and then put it back in the fridge if the day is warm and it may have softened while being grated.
  • While you have the butter out take a knob of it and grease the pie tin with it. 
  • Set the oven to heat to 200 degrees Celsius
  • Sift flour and baking powder
  • In a separate bowl beat the eggs and add the sugar to them, then continue to beat until they have  thickened and gone creamy.  Keep aside a few tablespoons of it.
  • Combine the chilled butter with the floury mixture.  I use first a knife and fork, then a serated knife.  Pastry dough should be handled as little as possible to prevent it from becoming tough.
  • Add to it the larger amount of the egg and sugar, using firstly a knife or similar and then kneading it very lightly with the fingertips until the pastry adheres to itself and can be rolled out with a rolling pin.  If the dough doesn't seem damp enough add a small amount of cold water.  I may add up to a quarter of a cup if needed.
  • Note that the pastry is much more successful if it starts out a little too damp rather than a little too dry, and you can dust a little additional flour over the pastry as you are working with it to make it just right.
  • Divide the pastry in two halves; if using a tin for baking make one a little larger than the other.
  • Dust with flour the board or bench surface on which you will be rolling it out, keeping perhaps half a cup of flour to one side in a bowl to continue to dust the dough as you roll and turn it so that it doesn't stick to your working surface.
  • Take the larger half of the pastry dough and roll it into a circle large enough to line your tin.  It can be about half an inch thick although I usually make my pastry thinner.
  • Lift it into the baking tin.  You can either make a proper pie case (with sides) or simply cover the base of your tin leaving enough room around the edges so that the top cover can be pressed down into the base
  • Now use the small amount of egg and sugar that you have set aside to brush the inside of the pastry case, including the upper edges where it will meet the pastry used to cover the top.  This will seal in any liquid from the cooking gooseberries so that the base doesn't go soggy.
  • Note that milk brushed onto pastry will also assist edges to join which are pressed together. 
  • Spread onto this pastry case the chopped gooseberries, sugar and mint that have been standing to one side
  • Roll out the second round and place it over the top
  • Press the edges of the two layers together with your finger tips, trimming any excess which can then be made into decorative shapes for the lid.
  • Place these decorations on the lid after dipping them in milk 
  • Brush the lid with milk to enhance the golden colour it will turn when baked - if you feel like it
  • Slash the pastry lid with a sharp knife so that steam can escape
  • Place into your heated oven and cook for at least 30 minutes.  
Ovens vary considerably so your own judgement will be useful in deciding when your shortcake is fully baked.
The pastry should be golden and the fruit juicy.  It may be starting to ooze.  The fruit does need to be well cooked.  If it isn't the fruit will have considerably less flavour.
Tip: if you find that the fruit isn't adequately cooked whereas your pastry is, you can even things up by placing portions of it in the microwave for a brief burst.

Once cooked to your satisfaction remove your shortcake from the oven and let it stand until it has cooled sufficiently to be able to be lightly handled.  Turn it out onto a serving dish, dust with icing sugar, slice into wedges and serve with whipped cream.

Turning cakes and pies out of their tins:  
I use this method for the shortcake:
  • Check that the cake is free from the sides of the tin by carefully running a knife or thin spatula around the inside edge, gently easing it inward as you go.  
  • Next, place a large dinner plate over the top of it; then, holding the tin and the plate firmly together, turn the cake tin upside down.  The cake, pie or shortcake will now be sitting on its head on the plate and hopefully free of the tin which can be then lifted off.  
  • (If the cake doesn't come free from the tin when it is turned upside down, I turn it right way up again and once again use the knife or thin spatula to ease it away from the sides.) 
  • Next, the serving plate is the placed on base of the upside-down cake. 
  • Now, firmly holding both plates which now have the cake sandwiched between them, reverse them once more, lift the plate off the top and there is the cake, the right side up again!  
I have no idea how other people get their cakes the right way up after removing them from their tins - I've just always done it this way.  Cake racks can be used in place of the plates of course, but not everyone has them.

My other gooseberry recipes can be found by following the link below:
To find my other articles about food and working in the kitchen click on the link below:

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