Archive for the 'biscuits' Category

Beskuit – South African rusks…

Frank loves South African food, a trait for which I am very grateful. Or shall I say: for which he is very grateful. I’m not sure what I would do if he didn’t like it! When we first started dating I bought him some biltong, which is similar to jerky, and he loved it. (I also gave some to a British colleague who said “what is this disgusting stuff?” to which I replied “if any other South Africans see you pulling that face or hear what you just said you’ll be getting a beating. Just so you know.”)

One of the most traditional South African foods is the humble rusk. Historically, rusks evolved, along with biltong, during the latter country’s early pioneering days as a way to preserve bread in the dry climate. It was also extensively used during times of war or when travelling long distances.

In the UK and Australia they are fed to babies, but our rusks are crunchy and delicious and designed to be dunked into a piping-hot cup of tea or coffee. (But not for too long, you don’t want mush on the bottom of your mug) They aren’t too sweet, and everyone who tried them loves them. Especially Frank! When I made the first batch of these babies Frank was sneaking them out the oven and munching them before they were dried.

I’m lucky enough to work with a South African guy whose mother has passed down the family rusk recipe to his beautiful wife. She, in turn, passed it to me as my family doesn’t have a rusk recipe that I know of. And now I pass it on to you! If you have any South African friends, making these will bring back their memories of home. And if you are South African, these are much better than Ouma rusks!

Beskuit – recipe from Estelle Meyer

1 kg self raising flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 cups of bran
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sultanas
500gms butter, cut into cubes
500ml cultured buttermilk
3 eggs
2 cups sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan-forced.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and rub in the butter. (If you’re in a hurry, you can melt it first).

Mix together the eggs and the buttermilk and add to the dry mixture, mixing thoroughly with your hands.

Put mixture into a bread/loaf pan, and bake for an hour, until golden.

Cool in pan and reduce oven temperature to 100C, then cut mix in slices like bread. Cut those slices into thin strips and place on baking paper directly on the oven racks and leave to dry for 3 hours.

Can be stored for up to two weeks in an airtight container, but I doubt they’ll last that long…

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Hertzog cookies

Please don’t get me wrong, I love Australia. But when I’m walking down the street and I hear a South African accent, I realise just how much I miss home. I’m not sure if I miss the lifestyle I had there; but I miss my friends and family, and that feeling of “familiar”. We moved around a bit as a kid, so in total I have grown up in three towns and lived in three countries, and yesterday I had a minor crisis that I might end up forgetting my roots.

But really, the South African in me is as strong as ever! I speak Afrikaans to Frank quite often (and he has the grace to nod and give me what he thinks is the correct answer, even though he doesn’t speak the language. Although I think he nods and gives what he thinks is the answer whether I’m speaking Afrikaans or English…) and I regularly lapse into South African expressions, which tends to cause a bit of confusion. For example:
– Loll to Frank: “wow, he’s not the brightest khoki in the box, is he?”
– Frank to Loll: “yep, he definitely isn’t the brightest cookie in the box.”
At which point I was on the floor laughing at the fact that Frank thought I was just saying “cookie” in an Afrikaans accent! (For those who aren’t South African, a khoki is a felt-tipped pen.)

So, to celebrate our rich South African culture (and to make Frank a little chubby), I decided to make something I haven’t eaten in years: Hertzog cookies. These jam and coconut tartlets are known as Hertzog koekies in South Africa, and are part of every South African housewife’s traditional recipe collection. They were named after General J.B.M. Hertzog, prime minister of the South African Union in 1924.
These cookies are fairly easy to make, and taste amazing. I’m going to make another batch as soon as I can!

Hertzog cookies – recipe from Margaret Ramsbottom’s “Cooking is fun”

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup castor sugar
125g margarine/butter, softened
3 large eggs, separated
4 tbsp water
½ cup apricot jam
1 1/4 cup white sugar
2 cups desiccated coconut

Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced
Sift Flour, baking powder and salt together. Add castor sugar and rub in butter.
Beat egg yolks and water together and add to dry ingredients, mixing to a soft dough.

Roll dough out thinly and press out circles. Line a greased muffin tin with circles. (I used a mini-muffin tin, but it’s best to use a mince-pie/patty pan tin)

Spoon a teaspoonful of apricot jam into middle of each circle.

Beat egg whites until soft peak stage. Add the white sugar slowly, while still beating. Fold in coconut and spoon the egg mixture onto the preserves.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes
Turn carefully onto a wire rack to cool.

Orange & coconut shortbread cookies

My brain was gifted to me in marble-form. For most of my childhood I carried the full collection of marbles, taking different ones out to suit the situation. (And, at times, they would get stuck in the bag and refuse to come out. Usually when my brother was trying to convince me I was an alien.)

However, I strongly suspect that when I reached adulthood my marble-container became perforated, and one or two began to fall out. There has been a substantial amount of rattling in there, but when I come to use particular ones they are nowhere to be found.
I find myself forgetting the simple things, like how I got home from work (sober, I promise). Or, if I did indeed send that letter to the client like I said I would. Or the time I broke a flat-mate’s expensive glass and convinced him that he did it when he was drunk. Or what I gave Frank last year for his birthday.

At first it was frustrating to realise that I’ve lost a couple of marbles, but I am comforted to know it’s a family thing. (;), only kidding family!) One day I am fully expecting to lift up the couch cushions and find those little marbles waiting for me, or perhaps Frank will slip on a couple while getting out of bed…

One day when I was having a quick search for my marbles, I remembered Frank had requested I make him some biscuits. So I had a quick look in my recipe books, and found this easy and delicious recipe. The dough feels beautifully silky when you roll them, and they look like slightly flat marbles when they come out! Be careful though, they are incredibly morish…

Coconut & orange shortbread biscuits – recipe adapted from AWW’s “Mix” book

250g butter, softened
Scant cup icing sugar
1 ½ cups plain flour
2 tbsp rice flour
2 tbsp corn flour
½ cup almond meal
½ cup desiccated coconut
2 tbsp orange juice
½ tsp orange blossom water (optional)

Preheat oven to 150C/130C fan-forced and line two baking trays with baking paper
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy.

Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until dough is formed.

Shape level tablespoons of mixture into balls and place 3cm apart on the baking tray. Flatten with a fork.

Bake for 25 mins or until firm. Leave to stand on the tray for 5 mins, and then place on a wire rack to cool.
Cover with additional sifted icing sugar if you choose.

Gingerbread biscuits

My nickname isn’t Piglet for nothing. Despite the fact that my mom thinks I look exactly like him (all I need is the pointy ears apparently), I think my appetite had more influence on my name. In London, the department I worked in was known for the amount of treats in the communal area.  There was always chocolate on the shelf, and people used to hang around the door at tea time to see what we had that day.

My line manager at the time, Bockers, (who I am proud to say is a very dear friend) used to bring in treats that his wonderful wife made. Her speciality was gingerbread biscuits. Her gingerbread biscuits were so delicious that Bockers and I almost came to blows many times in order to get the last biscuit.  Her biscuits were literally like a ray of sunshine, one of the few reasons I was flying out of my seat in excitement.
It got so bad in the office that Bockers would sneak the biscuits into the communal area, I would spy them out the corner of my eye, and we would run up and snatch them as fast as we could. We ended up counting how many the other person had and arguing that the last one was ours.

Bockers is one of those people who would be classified as an anchor in people’s lives. He is the eye in his friends’ internal storms, and he is the one that turns your frown upside down. He and his wife brought me a lot of joy during my time over there, and I thought I’d attempt to do the same to my team over here. The recipe is easy to follow, and (if you like ginger) the results are delicious. I hope they bring the people in your life as much joy!

Gingerbread biscuits – recipe courtesey of Catherine Richmond, thanks Catherine!

350g Plain Flour
Up to 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
100g of butter/margarine
175g of soft light brown sugar
1 egg
4 tablespoons of golden syrup

Pre-heat oven to 190C
Put the flour, ginger and soda into a bowl and rub in the butter.

Add the sugar and stir in the syrup and egg to make a firm dough. (don’t be afraid to get your hands in at this point)

Roll out dough to about 5mm thick and cut out your shapes.

Bake for 10-15 minutes (make sure you leave plenty of space between each shape on the baking tray because they grow!)

 

My nickname isn’t Piglet for nothing. Despite the fact that my mom thinks I look exactly like him (all I need is the pointy ears apparently), I think my appetite had more influence on my name. In London, the department I worked in was known for the amount of treats in the communal area.  There was always chocolate on the shelf, and people used to hang around the door at tea time to see what we had that day.

 

My line manager at the time, Bockers, (who I am proud to say is a very dear friend) used to bring in treats that his wonderful wife made. Her speciality was gingerbread biscuits. Her gingerbread biscuits were so delicious that Bockers and I almost came to blows many times in order to get the last biscuit.  Her biscuits were literally like a ray of sunshine, one of the few reasons I was flying out of my seat in excitement.

It got so bad in the office that Bockers would sneak the biscuits into the communal area, I would spy them out the corner of my eye, and we would run up and snatch them as fast as we could. We ended up counting how many the other person had and arguing that the last one was ours.

 

Bockers is one of those people who would be classified as an anchor in people’s lives. He is the eye in his friends’ internal storms, and he is the one that turns your frown upside down. He and his wife brought me a lot of joy during my time over there, and I thought I’d attempt to do the same to my team over here. The recipe is easy to follow, and (if you like ginger) the results are delicious. I hope they bring the people in your life as much joy!

 

Gingerbread biscuits – recipe courtesey of Catherine Richmond, thanks Catherine!

 

350g Plain Flour

Up to 1 teaspoon of ground ginger

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

100g of butter/margarine

175g of soft light brown sugar

1 egg

4 tablespoons of golden syrup

 

Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees centigrade (gas mark 5)

Put the flour, ginger and soda into a bowl and rub in the butter.  Add the sugar and stir in the syrup and egg to make a firm dough.

Roll out dough to about 5mm thick and cut out your shapes.

 

Bake for 10-15 minutes    (make sure you leave plenty of space between each shape on the baking tray because they grow!)

 

Lemon shortbread biscuits

Stress is not fun. I think it’s safe to assume that everyone feels stressed at some point in their lives, and I am a naturally “highly strung” person (I can feel Frank nodding his head rapidly while reading this) so I think I feel it more often than most. I was having a particularly stressful day in the world of bean-counting, so much so that I thought I would lose my mind and people would find me running around the office with my underpants on my head. I pottered off to make myself and my boss some lunch – I had excess and he doesn’t eat most of the time – and I realised while making it that cooking, or preparing food for people, calms me down when I’m stressed. Repeating what my clever friend Welly said, I am lucky to have a hobby/activity in my life that I enjoy so much. Take that stress!

And on the note of my lovely friend Welly, she invited us to dinner on Friday night. She and Mr Welly have a beautiful house, love cooking as much as I do, and are fabulous company, so Frank and I couldn’t wait to get there. Not wanting to arrive empty-handed, I decided to make some shortbread biscuits to take along with us. While wondering what flavour I should make, Frank mumbled “you still have a massive pile of lemons in the dining room”. Lemon shortbread it is! My Gran used to make the best shortbread, and my Scottish granddad loved it, so it must have been good. Sadly I didn’t think of getting the recipe from her, so this was my attempt at re-creating it.

Lemon shortbread – recipe from Women’s Weekly “Mix” recipe book

250g butter, softened
1/3 cup castor sugar
1 tbsp water
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup rice flour
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp lemon rind

Preheat oven to 160C/140C fan-forced. Grease two oven trays. Beat butter, castor sugar and lemon rind in medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy; stir in the water and sifted flours, in two batches.

Knead on floured surface until smooth.

Shape dough into a 30cm x 4cm rectangular log, cut into 1cm slices.

Place 3cm apart on oven trays; spinkle with raw sugar and bake for about 25-30 mins. Stand for 5 mins, place on a rack to cool. If the biscuits are squishy (technical terms of course) when pressed, leave to dry in warm oven that has been turned off.

Shortbread can be stored in an air-tight container for up to three weeks. Suitable to freeze for up to three months.


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