An Ode to the Apple: Bourbon Apple Shortcake

September is the season for great apples
Gala apples from Demeritt Hill Farm in Lee, NH.

Gala apples are available at DeMeritt Hill Farm in Lee, among other area orchards. They are ready to pick in mid-September and are both sweet and crisp.

I was asked a few years ago to contribute a food essay about the culinary heritage of New Hampshire for Phaidon’s “America: The Cookbook.” I wrote about my experiences with poutine, which is representative of the state’s French-Canadian heritage. Meanwhile, they asked Alison Ladman from Crust and Crumb Baking Company in Concord to contribute classic New Hampshire recipes. She offered a traditional turkey recipe and this shortcake recipe using apples, one of the state’s largest agricultural crops. The cookbook offers more than 800 recipes and guest essays garnered from 100 contributors. It’s the home cook’s guide to a culinary adventure across our vast nation. You can start in New Hampshire.

Bourbon Apple Shortcake

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Coarse sugar

For the Fruit Topping
6 tart apples, such as Gala or Fuji
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons bourbon
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving

For the shortcakes: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and stir together until the mixture resembles crumbs, with some pieces as big as peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the cream, sour cream and vanilla. Stir into the dry ingredients just until the mixture is moistened. It should look a little rough, with bits and chucks of buttery crumbs.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and pat into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Halve the rectangle lengthwise, then in four crosswise, so you have eight pieces. It is not important that they be perfect squares, just even in thickness and size. Arrange the pieces on the baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with coarse sugar. Bake until lightly golden and just slightly springy-firm, 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the fruit topping, peel, core and cut the apples into ¼-inch thick slices. In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and apples, and cook until the apples are tender, about 8 minutes. Add the bourbon and stir to combine.

To serve, slit the shortcakes horizontally, and top with the apples and whipped creamed cream or ice cream. Enjoy warm.

Categories: Fall Food and Recipes, Recipes