Larger and flakier than a scone, this American-style shortcake is sturdy enough to hold a jammy compote but rich enough to be served as dessert. Substitute peaches, apricots or berries for plums – simply adjust the sugar to the sweetness of the fruit or your palate. The creme fraiche won't whip to the billowy fullness of cream, but, spooned messily over the fruit, it will provide a deliciously tangy note against the buttery shortcake.
For the plum compote
750g red plums, stones removed, sliced 1/2cm thick
100g caster sugar
1½ tbsp lemon juice
seeds from 3 cardamom pods, crushed with a mortar and pestle (optional)
For the shortcakes
140ml double cream, plus 1 tbsp extra for brushing tops of shortcakes
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
50g caster sugar, plus 2 tsp extra for sprinkling on top
½ tsp salt
1 tsp orange zest
65g unsalted butter, cold and firm
30g roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
For the creme fraiche
300ml creme fraiche
50g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
icing sugar, for dusting
1. In a large sauté pan, combine the plum, sugar, lemon juice and cardamom (if using). Cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved, then increase heat to medium-high and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the juices thicken and turn syrupy. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 200C fan-forced (220C conventional). Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Whisk the egg in a medium bowl, then add the cream. Beat lightly until combined, then set aside.
3. Place the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and orange zest in a large bowl and whisk lightly to combine. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the cold butter directly into the flour mixture. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until it is the texture of coarse meal. Gradually pour in the egg and cream mixture, stirring gently with a large fork to incorporate. When the mixture starts to come together, press the dough onto the sides of the bowl to form a rough ball. Note that you may need a little extra cream to bring the dough together if it is a little dry, or a little extra flour if the mixture is too wet. It should come together quite readily and be slightly tacky to begin with.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench and sprinkle a little extra flour on top of the dough. Knead gently for a few seconds to smooth it out a little, then pat or roll out to a thickness of 1.5cm. Using a round biscuit-cutter (about 7cm diameter), stamp out circles of dough and place on the prepared baking tray, spaced a few centimetres apart. Gently re-roll the dough scraps and cut out more circles, so you have six altogether.
5. Brush the tops of the shortcakes with the extra cream, then gently press some chopped hazelnuts on top of each one. Sprinkle with the extra sugar, then bake for 15-18 minutes, until the tops are brown and the sides of the shortcakes are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
6. When ready to serve, gently whisk the creme fraiche, brown sugar and vanilla essence in a medium bowl until combined. Split the shortcakes in half horizontally and place the bottom of each shortcake on a plate. Cover the bottom piece with a large spoonful of the plum compote, then add a dollop of the creme fraiche mixture. Dust the top half of the shortcakes lightly with icing sugar, then rest against the bottom piece on an angle. Serve immediately.
Find more of Helen Goh's recipes in the Good Food New Classics cookbook.