Our final APPLE WEEK recipe is a twist on traditional strawberry shortcake. The “shortcake” is baked whole rather than divided into individual biscuits, layered with apples and then topped with an irresistibly sweet and sticky combination of brown sugar and homemade apple cider syrup. If it sounds amazing, believe me – IT IS! And at a mere 15 mg sodium per serving, too!
Adapted from New England Cooking: Seasons & Celebrations by Claire Hopley.
Yields 12 servings.
SODIUM CONTENT: 15 mg per serving
2 c. flour
1 T. Featherweight sodium-free baking powder
1/2 c. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. apple cider
1 apple (your choice) cored and sliced thinly
1/2 c. apple cider
3/4 c. brown sugar, divided
3 whole cloves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch cake pan and set aside.
To make the batter, measure the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the flour, rubbing the mixture until a coarse crumb has been achieved. Stir in the sugar, then make a well in the center of the bowl. Break the egg into the well then add the apple cider. Stir to form a soft, sticky dough.
Flour your hands and keep extra flour nearby – this dough will cling! Divide the dough into two equal parts. Press one half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking pan, re-flouring your hands as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.
Set aside 8 apple slices aside for decorating the cake, then arrange the rest of the slices on top of the dough in the pan.
Flour your hands once again, then press the remaining half of the dough on top of the apple slices. It may look messy and imperfect, but it’ll be fine after baking. Decorate the top of the cake with the reserved apple slices. Be creative! I made a spiral but there are many other patterns to use.
Place the cake on the middle rack in the oven and bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean.
While the cake is baking, prepare the sticky syrup for the top. Measure the apple cider into a small saucepan, along with 1/2 cup of the brown sugar and the 3 cloves. Reserve the remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar for sprinkling on after baking.
Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. The mixture should now be syrupy (and it thickens considerably as it cools). Remove from heat, fish out the 3 cloves and discard.
Once the cake has baked, remove from oven.
Immediately sprinkle the top of the cake with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the reserved brown sugar. Follow by drizzling a third of the syrup over top. Wait 5 minutes, then repeat process with another 1 1/2 T. brown sugar and another third of the syrup. Wait another 5 minutes and repeat with the remaining sugar and syrup.
Let the cake stand 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving. Then dig in and ENJOY!