Jane: This is the time of year for lovely comfort puds like crumbles and roly polys and here’s a fantastically stodgy teatime equivalent beloved of all members of our family. It’s a heavyweight buttery shortbread with a sweet and fruity layer that makes you think spring might be on the distant horizon. It’s also good to make as a traybake for school dos as both children and adults like it a lot, and you can make 24 or so slices in one batch.
500g unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large egg yolks
200g caster sugar
450g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
400-500g apricot compote (I use Bonne Maman’s big pots – the rhubarb is delicious too – but you can make your own with whatever fruit is to hand)
Icing sugar for dusting
In a large bowl, beat the butter until pale and soft. Add the egg yolks and sugar, and beat well until light and creamy. Add the flour, polenta and salt and stir in with a metal spoon or on the lowest speed of your electric mixer. The mixture will be very thick – almost too thick to stir. Divide into two batches, wrap in cling-film and chill in the fridge for half an hour or so.
Meanwhile, line a 30 by 23 by 4cm baking tray with baking parchment. Take one batch of dough from the fridge, and grate the mixture straight into the tin, using the largest holes on your grater – it will come out like fat worms. Press lightly down into the corners and to make sure the layer is level. Spoon over the apricot compote evenly.
Then take the other batch of dough from the fridge, and grate it evenly as before over the apricot layer. This time don’t pat the dough down – it looks better if the top surface is a little crumbly and uneven.
Bake at 175 degrees C/Gas Mark 4 for about 40 minutes or until the shortbread has taken on a golden colour. As soon as it comes out of the oven, dust heavily with icing sugar. Cool on a rack, then cut into squares or slices.