Old Fashioned Baking

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Old Fashioned Sweethearts
Lynley Ruck 

Some of our very first kitchen experiences were often at the knees of wonderful wise folk who seemed to be able to conjure cakes and slices from fresh eggs, a whiff of vanilla or the mere hint of lemon. Home baking is alchemy of sorts that produces wonderful aromas that in turn create feelings of nostalgia and sometimes even of hope and comfort.

The sense of smell is our first and most immediate link to the world around us. It reminds us of what (and who) we love. Smell is perhaps the most complex sense we possess and possibly this is why it is the least understood and most often taken for granted. Scent does not actually trigger memories – it triggers the emotion that caused the memory to be formed in the first place. Scientifically speaking, olfaction and memory do seem to be linked. According to studies there is a biological basis to their close association. Olfactory neurons send information immediately into areas of the cerebrum, while others simultaneously travel directly into the portions of the limbic system associated with memory.

There is that certain smell of mechanical kitchen machinery and the creaming of butter and sugar in a flour dusted chrome and formica kitchen that, for me, captures the essence of my childhood and home. These days there are more than a few cafes popping up around the countryside that have managed to enchant their customers with mismatched crown lynn crockery, sugary treats and milky tea – tapping into some of those early memories.

Afternoon tea – a great New Zealand institution that was an opportunity for the housewife to display her baking prowess has all but disappeared and sadly there are many children today who have never sampled home baking icons such as Ginger Kisses, Neenish Tarts, Madeira Cake , Gingerbread or homemade shortbread.

Good old fashioned recipes have recently been resurrected around modern coffee tables, as they jolly well should be. Lovely books with titles such as ‘Afternoon Tea’ published by Frankie an Australian magazine and  ‘Ladies a Plate’ by Alexa Johnson are full of old favourites photographed on delicate crockery and vintage linen, are arriving in bookshops hopefully encouraging a new generation of home cooks to embrace their roots and fill the tins!
Jan has just started a blog on this – Cooking the Past.

 Back in the day, at school, we were all taught how to make Hokey Pokey Biscuits, a rather plain but extremely delicious lunchbox staple. The warm and buttery aroma of these gorgeous golden syrup delights floating from the cooking room weeks before it was our turn to cook was even better than actually eating them.  Mothers and fathers, teach your children how to make these biscuits!
Thinking of hokey pokey biscuits reminds me of Highlander biscuits and Kiwi crisps.  They were never chocolate chip biscuits but kiwi crisps – when did they change? 
Of course Highlander biscuits were Kiwi crisps without the chocolate.

 You can’t perfect these recipes – they are as good today as they were 50 years ago.

Raspberry Jam Drops
Tan Square
Nutty Biffs
Sponge Cake
Dates and Cream Cake
Belgian Slice
Ginger Crunch
Bran Biscuits
Chocolate Afghans

Chocolate Weetbix Slice
Date Loaf
Gingerbread Men
Queen Cakes
Melting Moments

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13 thoughts on “Old Fashioned Baking

  1. Where have the recipes gone for this article? I get an error message when I click on the recipe name. Have you deleted some of your recipes from your website recently as there are other favourites that have disappeared?


  2. Im mad on Neenish tarts. Just love them. Really like your thoughts on smell. I still come over all emotional when I smell my [deceased] Grandmothers perfume.
    The nameless contributor is ok with not being a domestic Godess. No problem with domesticty but the whole godess thing could be a bit problematic.

  3. Thank you very much Lynley. Possibly Kellog’s now own that brand ,as happens now – a case in point is Flemming’s Rolled Oats – now Uncle Toby’s.I’ll check over the weekend at supermarket that I have it right. I’ll certainly give this recipe a go – thanks again for your research :)

  4. Heather – I was looking through some old collections of recipes I have found in junk shops over the years – and found this recipe which is cut from the back of a packet (either the flour or the bran as both are named by brand). The bran is not Kellogs and I really am not sure if ‘V*-Bran’ is the same thing or not – but it is muffins and it does have all the other ingredients you mention:

    V*-Bran Muffins
    140g (5 oz/1large cup) Flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    115g (4oz 1.5 cups) Vi Bran
    55g (2oz 1/4 cup) sugar
    1 egg
    1 level tsp soda
    225g (8oz) milk
    1 tbsp golden syrup
    1 tbsp butter

    Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add V*-Bran and sugar. Beat egg well, add soda dissolved in milk, then butter and golden syrup, warmed together. Stir liquid quickly into the dry ingredients until the flour is just dampened. Put in cold, greased patty tins (or muffin cases – lynley) Bake at 220 deg C for 12-15 minutes. For variety raisins may be added.

  5. Oh Lynley – you are truely a domestic godess, unlike the other contributor (who shall remain nameless) on this site!
    I bake weekly for my kids lunches and get bored with the usuals, so this is great inspiration. ps: I loved YOUR italian recipes!
    pss: I think I have that all bran muffin recipe – will have a look and post if I can find it.

  6. Great article that evoked fond memories. My Mum baked all the time and I too am a baker, the trick is not to eat it though! I am wondering if anyone has the recipe for bran muffins that used Kellog’s AllBran. It is an old recipe that my Mum used to make – long before muffins were trendy and huge in size. She made them in the patty pans. I know it had butter, golden syrup, baking soda and sultanas and as well as the AllBran some white flour. I’ve had a few goes at experimenting but need the correct quantities. I have my Mum’s recipe book but I fear this was one she kept in her head.Here’s hoping :)

  7. Sorry Gail – it was my fault, I must have loaded things too quickly and made a mistake or two. the link is now corrected.
    If anyone has any recipes that they would like to share then it would be great to add them to this feature, full credit will be given to the person the recipe is attributed to.

  8. Thanks for all those memories Lynley. I’d love your recipe for Bran Biscuits but when I click the link, all I get is the Ginger Crunch recipe…..am I on my own here or are others experiencing the same problem?

  9. Jennie thanks for pointing that out! I have added the chocolate in to the recipe now.
    Yes we always used Sante bars – maybe that is because chocolate chips were not easily found or was it because you could chop bigger pieces?

  10. Dear Helen

    I read the newsletter re oldfashioned baking
    and immediately clicked on Kiwi Crisps. I have a recipe handwritten in my mother’s old recipe book (the one that all new brides collected from friends and relatives in the 30s and 40s!)from my greataunt – but it included chocolate chips. I used to make a batch of these every second Sunday night (listening to Sherlock Holmes on the transistor radio)when I was a teenager – it was our family’s morning tea biscuit of choice. In the 70’s, of course, you bought a bar of Energy chocolate (my greataunt’s recipe used Sante bars, but even I am too young to know what they were!) and chopped it by hand, with bits of chocolate flying everywhere. The problem in our household was concealing the chocolate from my father – he could sniff out a bar unerringly!
    I digress! Obviously you forgot the chocolate in your recipe – you refer to it in the article.
    Thanks for the memories!