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 sneil@bauer-me­ or send a let­ter to Heir­loom Recipe, Coun­try Style, PO Box 4088, Syd­ney NSW 1028.

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