The Dominion Favourite
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!