An easy tray bake of sweet, fruity biscuit fingers

Baking: This apricot and almond tray bake will be a popular biscuit-tin filler

Tray bake: Apricot and almond fingers

Tray bake: Apricot and almond fingers

 

These deliciously sweet, fruity biscuit fingers are one of my favourite tray bakes. I can’t remember who gave me the recipe, but the handwritten copy is in my recipe journal.

Every recipe in that notebook has served me well. I would recommend to anyone interested in cooking to keep a similar book and fill it with their favourite recipes. My husband has created his own one, which he studiously filled with his mum’s wholesome soup recipes. He now treasures it.

Tray bakes are always popular as a biscuit-tin filler. They can be portioned easily into small bites or fingers, making them easily transportable. Many of us have memories of these homemade treats brought along on a weekend away, a day out or even stowed in a picnic basket.

I rarely buy apricot jam to spread on toast, but I use it regularly in baking. When warmed slightly, it serves as a handy glaze to pretty up all sorts of fruit-filled tarts.

These nutty apricot flavoured fingers marry different textures in three layers. The buttery shortbread provides a firm base for the moist and sticky jam filling. My favourite part is the meringue topping, which once baked, forms a brittle shell which provides a delightful bite.

The biscuits can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for two or three days. You can freeze them too. In fact, I found that freezing them makes them slightly easier to portion neatly without cracking the delicate topping.     

APRICOT AND ALMOND FINGERS
Serves 8

Ingredients
160g plain flour
pinch salt
40g caster sugar
110g butter, cubed
1-2 tsp water, as required
75g flaked almonds
75g apricot jam
1 egg white
60g caster sugar

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan), or equivalent. Grease and line a 20cm by 20cm square baking tin with parchment paper.

2. In a food processor, blitz together the flour, salt, sugar and the cubed butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, adding a teaspoon of water if the mixture appears very dry. (Alternatively, to mix by hand place the above ingredients into a large wide mixing bowl and rub the shortbread ingredients together using your fingertips until they resemble breadcrumbs).

3. Press the dough into the lined tin, patting it firmly with your fingers, then use the back of a spoon to give a smooth level surface. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly in the tin.

4. Meanwhile, reserve a third of the flaked almonds for the topping. Toast the remaining almonds in the oven at 180 degrees (fan) for six to eight minutes until golden in colour. Allow the nuts to cool.

5. Use a knife to spread an even layer of apricot jam over the surface of the pre-baked shortbread (right to the edges). Scatter the toasted flaked almonds over the layer of jam.

6. For the topping, place the egg white in a medium-size spotlessly clean, grease-free bowl. Using an electric mixer, whisk on high speed until the egg white forms stiff white peaks. Use a metal spoon to gradually add in the caster sugar until fully incorporated and the mixture is glossy and holds stiff peaks.

7. Use a spatula to spread an even layer of meringue mixture over the layer of apricot jam and nuts.

8. Scatter the reserved untoasted flaked almonds over the top of the meringue layer.

9. Transfer the baking tin to the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake for approximately 12 minutes until the topping is slightly golden in colour.

10. Once baked, remove the tray bake from the oven and set aside to cool fully in the tin before portioning into equal sized fingers or squares.

Variation: Chopped toasted hazelnuts can be used in place of almonds.

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