From Ngaire’s journal 9th May, 1965 (Mother’s Day)
‘Carol, Stan, Michelle and Nigel presented me with a very useful stapling machine and some chocolates. Gerald has given me a new hat.’
I’m a practical sort of girl, but I don’t hold with gifts like irons, saucepans or staplers for Mother’s Day. Or birthdays. My mother tried for years to give me a wheelie laundry basket for my birthday, but finally gave in and now gives me beautiful scarves, fat books and lovely bits of bone china (suitable only for leisurely cups of tea).
Making apple shortcake seems suitably Mother’s Dayish, if a little clichéd, particularly since I have several crates of apples from the farm on the front veranda. They’re covered with old sheets to discourage the possums. The Golden Delicious are especially good for cooking — very sweet but not cloying.
It’s more traditional to make the shortcake in a square tin, then slice it in to squares. That’s what Ngaire always did for the men’s morning and afternoon teas on the orchard. Whatever the shape, the combination of tart, soft apple and short, sweet cake is delicious — especially with a great dollop of cream.
6 Golden Delicious apples, ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ cup hot water
Peel, core and slice the apples. Put in a saucepan, sprinkle with cinnamon and pour over the hot water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir very gently to combine the ingredients. The apples should be soft but not mushy (and a word of warning: if the pieces are too firm, they may shoot across the room when the cake is cut…)
6 oz (180 gm) butter, 2 ½ cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 2 tsp baking powder
Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the egg and then fold in sifted flour and baking powder. Press the mixture into two greased and lined 20cm cake tins and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. They should be golden. Cool on a cake rack.
Assemble when cool. Put one short cake on a plate and top with apple. Use a slotted spoon to do this as you don’t want any of the juice. I like a generous layer of apple. Pop the other cake on top and dust with icing sugar or ice with lemon icing.