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The Dominion Favourite

July 29, 2007

My dear friend in New Zealand sent me an early birthday present that has filled me with delight:  the Edmonds “Sure to Rise” Cookery Book–best selling book ever published in New Zealand (more than 3m copies sold!), continuously in print since 1907.

Nothing brings home the differences between English-speaking cultures like their cookbooks.  The fun of this cookbook for me is in the recipes for New Zealand standards that are rare in the U.S.:  pikelets, for example.  These are sort of a cross between U.S. biscuits and pancakes–think quick bread English muffins.  Chiefly useful for conveying tremendous amounts of hot melty butter to the mouth in an efficient fashion.

It’s in the (NZ) Biscuit section that I get really excited:  Afghans, for example.  Never heard of them.  The recipe looks good–a kind of soft chocolate cookie dough with lots of cornflakes smushed up in it, covered in chocolate frosting.  Can also be baked in cake form, in which case it becomes Afghan Slice.  Belgium Biscuits:  gingersnaps sandwiched with raspberry jam and vanilla frosting.  Melting Moments, which seem to be a kind of tender shortbread, again with jam.  Yoyos, rich with Edmonds Custard Powder in both cookie and filling.  (Luckily, I have a tin of Bird’s in the cupboard, purchased at the World Market for a cookie recipe in Nigella’s Feast, which didn’t pan out. I’ve pretty much given up on Nigella’s baking.  She’s unbeatable in the lunch and dinner department, and my eternal devotion is hers for Forever Summer, but she can’t bake worth a tinker’s damn.)

Cakes is another promising section:  I wanted to try Ladysmith Cake, but my mother, who knows a great deal more about the Boer War than I do, feels somewhat squeamish about it (“Would you eat Gallipolli Cake?”).  I’m going to rename it Liberation Cake, because a cinnamon sponge with ribbons of raspberry jam and chopped nuts running through it is worth going through some nomenclatural difficulties for.  A fruitcake called Tennis Cake will be a tougher sell, mainly because the only fruitcake my family will eat is Black Cake, as made to the sainted Laurie Colwin’s recipe.  I myself hate fruit cake–but I still want to make Tennis Cake, and then have the neighbors in for an afternoon of tennis, and serve Pimm’s Cup and Tennis Cake and cucumber sandwiches, and have someone die unexpectedly, and then . . . yes, this is madness. 

But just try and stop me making Albert Squares, Cinnamon Cream Fingers, or Lamingtons.

(There are recipes for main dishes, vegetables, and other wholesome items–but until I’ve worked my way through all the sweets, it’s no use bothering with them.)

Dear, dear Jo, thank you so much! 

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Jo Fothergill permalink
    July 30, 2007 12:35 pm

    i was originally going to send you my personal copy that falls open to certain pages but decided that i might need it as i travel (for when i get homesick) – mind you – that could have been a good reason to visit you (i just need to check a recipe)

    what i didn’t do was check to see if they’d updated the photos – that could be interesting to compare …

    so – my favourite in the ‘sweets’ section is chocolate fudge – for years mum used to make chocolate fudge in the deep of night and never share it with us – then i discovered that it was an edmonds recipe and after many (delicious) failures finally got the recipe right – i taught it to spacegirl and for years whenever she was invited to a party she was told – no present just fudge

    as for afghans (i suppose that’s not particularly PC either) the base will harden when you cook them so that when you take a bite it crumbles in your mouth …

    besides anzac biscuits my favourite in that section is ginger crunch and my handwritten note beside that recipe is double bottom/triple top (and you cook it in a roasting dish!)

    good luck with the cooking and we’ll have to do some cooking together when i visit

  2. LoM permalink
    July 24, 2008 12:00 pm

    Oddly enough, I was searching the web for the origins of the naming of Ladysmith Cake…and came across your blog.
    Made it last night and had a very good reception from all.

    Not sure if our oven but would recommend keeping an eye on it because cooked before 50min was up.

    Good luck with the baking. I too am avoiding the rest of the book in favour of the Cakes and Biscuits section – working my way through alphabetically to learn to cook. Have yet to do Tennis Cake (?!?!?) and Lamingtons are supposed to be this morning before work…but here I am blogging!!

  3. Anna Peta permalink
    January 25, 2009 2:49 am

    Reading about afghans and the like took me back about 40 years to my childhood!!! Bless you!! I have a worse for wear Edmonds cookbook which we won in a raffle in about 1969!!It’s held together with a rubber band but it’s my bible.
    The butter in New-Zealand in those days was probably the purest, tastiest thing in the world ( and I am still on a never-ending diet because of it).

    Thanks again!

    Happy baking

    • melyndahuskey permalink*
      January 28, 2009 12:44 am

      I’m so glad I could take you back–I hope you went to your kitchen and made something yummy. I just finished the last of a truly glorious Victoria Sponge with strawberry jam and cream . . . but if I could get (and afford) European butter it would have been just that much better.

      We are applying to emigrate to NZ . . . here’s to the best butter in the world!

  4. November 19, 2009 5:38 pm


    Would anyone have the recipe for Albert Square, with icing? My Nan used to make it when I was a child. I would so like to make it for my children.

    Thank you.

    • melyndahuskey permalink*
      November 24, 2009 4:47 pm

      Never say this isn’t a full service blog:

      Albert Squares (from the Edmonds Cookbook)
      125 g butter
      3/4 cup sugar
      2 eggs
      2 teaspoons golden syrup
      1/2 teaspoon vanilla
      1 cup currants
      2 cups flour
      2 teaspoons baking powder
      pinch salt
      1/2 cup milk

      Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in syrup and vanilla. Fold in currants. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Fold sifted ingredients into creamed mixture alternately with milk. Spread into a greased 20 x 30 cm sponge roll tin. Bake at 180 C for 30 minutes or until centre springs back when lightly touched. When cold, ice (see below) and cut into squares.

      Icing: Mix icing sugar, vanilla, and sufficient water to make a spreading consistency. Ice and sprinkle with coconut and lemon rind.

      Enjoy, Anna!

      • November 24, 2009 6:02 pm

        Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You are amazing! Thank you so very much!

        Enjoy your day,
        Anna. -x-

  5. Jojo permalink
    April 12, 2011 7:25 pm

    Hi, I am a Malaysian Chinese who is married to a Kiwi bloke. The Edmonds cookbook is one of the gifts I was given by my mother in law when we first got married. Like you, I worked my way thru the ‘sweet’ section, and have only occasionally wander to the main courses/savouries in the last 9 years 🙂 . My husband’s favourite is the Afghans, mine is the Yoyos, Melting Moments & Ginger Crunch (I cant help myself!) and the Banana Loaf is my 4 yr old daughter’s favourite. I make the loaf into little muffins instead and sometimes ice them to make them into cupcakes. They are so easy that my 4 year old now knows exactly what ingredients and bowls/spatulas etc to bring out of the pantry 🙂 And I’ve started giving the Edmonds cookbook as birthday gifts too, to friends around the world. Love it!

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