Spiced apricot & almond shortbread 

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An easy fruity shortbread with a hint of spiced citrus and a gentle kick of almond.

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This is my reworking of a recipe inspired by apricot shortbreads from the BBC Good Food Magazine from years ago. It’s a lovely recipe but I think it benefits from a bit of embellishment.

Rich, buttery and crumbly, the shortbread contains ground almonds, almond extract and orange zest – giving it something of a wake up call!

These shortbreads perfect made in advance and it keeps well for up to a week in an airtight container.

The sticky apricot filling is wonderful used on scones or to sandwich together cakes and it will keep in an airtight jar for weeks in the fridge. I love using Fiori di Sicilia: it’s intense aroma and gorgeously spiced citrus flavour can do wonders to enhance biscuits, cakes and breads.

Filling variations

I sometimes make this with mincemeat instead of the apricot filling for a mince pie-style traybake. It is also wonderful made with dried figs or stoned dates in place of the apricots – in which case, blitz them as in the recipe, and heat them with 100ml water and 100g sugar until they go thick and pulpy.

Posher biscuits!

Rather than make them as a traybake, you can make them more refined by cutting out circles of dough using a standard biscuit cutter – either plain or fluted. Then put a small amount of the apricot filling on the centre of half of them, place a second circle of dough on top and lightly press around the edge with a fork. These bake for 5-10 minutes shorter.

Recipe: spiced apricot & almond shortbread

Apricot filling:

  • 150g dried apricots
  • 4 tablespoons apricot conserve
  • 1 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia extract
  • juice of 1 large orange
  • 2 tablespoons apricot brandy, Amaretto or rum

Shortbread:

  • 240g plain flour
  • 100g cornflour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 250g very soft unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 large orange
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

To finish:

  • a tablespoon or so of caster sugar

(1) Make the apricot filling by blitzing the apricots in a food processor until they become almost a paste, with a few small chunks of apricots. Scrape into small saucepan with the jam, the Fiori di Sicilia and the orange juice. Bring to a gentle simmer and let it all cook down for about 15 minutes until thick and pulpy. If it is too thick to beign with, add a splash of water. Stir in the Amaretto and leave to cool.

(2) Preheat the oven to 160C (fan). Oil and line a rectangular cake tin (about 18cm by 24cm) with greaseproof: I use my standard brownie tin.

(3) Cream the butter, sugar, almond extract and orange zest into a bowl for a few minutes until light and pale and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well to give a soft dough: after a while it will start to come together and then go in gently with your hands to give a soft ball.

(4) Split the dough in half and pat one half into the base of the tin, making sure you go right into the corners. Roll the other half of dough to a thin rectangle to the size of the tin or a little over – it is easiest rolling it out between two sheets of greaseproof.

(5) Spread the apricot mixture over half of the dough rectangle, leaving little border of dough exposed all around. Place the second half of the dough over the apricot and press lightly around the edges to seal.

(6) Prick the top lightly with a fork, trying not to go through to the apricot centre, and bake for about 30 minutes until the edges are just starting to turn a very light golden-brown. Sprinkle with a little caster sugar and leave to cool fully. Cut when cool.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking & eating.

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