DAY TO REMEMBER
A TIN OF HOMEMADE BISCUITS BECAME A FATHER’S DAY FAVOURITE AND AN ENDURING FAMILY TRADITION.
Father’s Day always evokes memories of Nanna’s Biscuits for Maureen Spiers, who would help her mum make this recipe for her grandfather each year.
WHEN THEY WERE GROWING UP, Maureen Spiers and her sisters, Leanne and Gail, always knew when Father’s Day was near. As soon as their mother, Helen, clamped the meat mincer to the kitchen table, they would gather around to help make a batch of special biscuits for their grandfather. “The biscuit mix was extruded from a biscuit attachment that came with the mincer,” Maureen explains. “We would wind the handle and Mum would cut them off at the other end.” Once the biscuits were baked and sandwiched together with icing, Helen (pictured above on her wedding day) would pack them side-by-side into an old Arnott’s bickie tin until no more could fit in. “She always planned a trip to Adelaide and on the way we would drop them off at Gumeracha, in the Adelaide Hills, where my grandparents had retired.” Maureen, 61, was in her teens when Helen started making the biscuits every Father’s Day. “I think she had exhausted all other present ideas and the thing her father liked most was the biscuits. He liked the fact they were made with love by his daughter. His surname was Rich but he was never really interested in monetary things.” Born in 1927, Helen was one of four children and grew up in Cromer, SA. Her father, David Rich, was a beekeeper and her mother, Bertha, was a housekeeper. When she left home, Helen took a job as a hospital cook at nearby Mount Pleasant. The catering skills she learnt there came in handy when she married Dudley Hocking and moved to a mallee farm near Swan Reach. “Every August, Mum would cook for the shearers,” Maureen recalls. “Each morning she milked the cows, fed the chooks and got us off to school before tending to the shearers’ needs. The morning and afternoon teas were delivered by hand and a cooked lunch was always served at the kitchen table… She couldn’t go anywhere off farm during shearing time.” Helen was revered for her never-fail sponge cakes, and her pantry was full of homemade jams and preserves. When her youngest daughter, Gail, and her husband, Wayne Fromm, purchased the family farm, she gave them the meat mincer and biscuit recipe, too. “Gail cooked a few batches of biscuits and Mum made a few ‘comments’ until she got them right,” Maureen says, with a laugh. “Now Gail makes them for her sons on their birthdays and they’ve become a family tradition.” Helen passed away in 2017, just shy of her 90th year, and now Father’s Day evokes memories of ‘Nanna’s biscuits’. Maureen is even considering getting her own mincer: “You can buy them online, so maybe I’ll try and match my sister’s biscuit-making skills one day.”
Makes about 28 2 cups plain flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 175g butter, softened ¾ cup caster sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla essence 2 eggs ICING 1½ cups icing sugar mixture 1½ teaspoons butter, softened 1 tablespoon boiling water 2 tablespoons raspberry jam
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 5 large baking trays with baking paper. Sift flour and baking powder together into a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Spoon biscuit dough into a piping bag fitted with a 9mm star nozzle*. Pipe 4.5cm lengths of dough onto prepared trays, allowing dough to ruffle slightly as you pipe. Pipe biscuits 4cm apart to allow room for spreading. Bake for 12 minutes or until biscuits are light golden. Cool on trays. To make icing, sift icing sugar into a medium bowl. Place butter and boiling water in a heatproof jug and stir until butter melts. Add butter mixture to icing sugar and mix until smooth. Add raspberry jam and mix until well combined. Spread flat sides of half of biscuits with icing and sandwich together with remaining biscuits of a similar size. Store in an airtight container. NOTE: You can also roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and place on trays, allowing room for spreading. Using the back of a floured fork, gently flatten dough balls and create shallow indents. *We have used a piping bag instead of a mincer with biscuit attachment. SHARE YOUR FAMILY FAVOURITES Do you have a recipe that has been passed down through generations? Send us your recipe, the story behind it and a photograph (preferably a copy or scan) of the relative who passed it on. Remember to include a daytime telephone number. Email Sarah Neil at email@example.com or send a letter to Heirloom Recipe, Country Style, PO Box 4088, Sydney NSW 1028.