Feijoas – I’m just about asleep when I hear it the first time: a dull, definite thud, just outside the back door. There’s no wind and no traffic noise, just the moreporks saying goodnight to each other. Then it happens again. I freeze in alarm. ‘Did you hear that?’ I hiss. ‘Mmmm,’ he says sleepily, ‘it’ll be a cat. Don’t worry about it.’ I’m not convinced, but I’m not getting up to look, either. I put my head under the duvet and go to sleep.
The next morning I see them: half a dozen green fruit lying on the deck. The feijoas have arrived. Over the coming weeks we’ll collect hundreds of them. Some will be as small as quail’s eggs, others more like avocados. All are delicious.
You can keep the All Blacks, Crowded House and no. 8 wire — feijoas were what I missed the most when I lived abroad.
In December, their trees bloom with festively appropriate red flowers. In April and May, the egg-shaped fruit start falling faster than we can eat them. They’re the zucchini of autumn — it’s hard to find homes to give them away to, but people are much more receptive to receiving things made with them.
This is a multi-purpose delight in that it tastes fantastic either warm from the oven or cold from the fridge. It also stands up well to being frozen (wrap well first) and delivered as part of a care package.
SERVES 6 | PREP TIME: 20min | COOK TIME: 30min
- 120g butter
- 1⁄2 cup lightly packed soft brown sugar, plus 1 tbsp extra
- 1 free-range egg
- 1 1⁄4 cups plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- 1 1⁄2–2 cups peeled and sliced feijoas
- 1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon
- whipped cream, ice cream or yoghurt, to serve
1. Heat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a large loaf tin or similar (measuring about 13cm x 23cm).
2. Melt the butter in a medium-sized pot set over a low heat. Stir in the 1⁄2 cup of brown sugar, then remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Beat in the egg, then sift in the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt. Stir in the coconut and mix well.
3. Press about two-thirds of the dough evenly into the base of the prepared tin. Arrange the feijoa slices in an even layer on top. Crumble the remaining dough over the feijoas. Mix together the 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and the cinnamon, and sprinkle on top.
4. Bake for 30–35 minutes, until the shortcake is light gold and feels dry to the touch. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then serve with whipped cream, ice cream or yoghurt.