The world is full of biscuits these days, there are even shops which just sell biscuits – ok, so actually they call them cookies, but in essence they are biscuits. My mum was a great cook and baker, and there was always something in the cake tins which she had made – and not just cake also scones and buns, but apart from Viennese whirls and melting moments (which we called cookies) there were no biscuits. We did have packet biscuits sometimes at home, not often it’s true, but we might have jammy dodgers, or custard creams or even occasionally chocolate Bourbons. perhaps home biscuit-making wasn’t popular, maybe there weren’t the recipes available, maybe for some reason she just didn’t make them.
A recipe I’m sure would have been popular in our house is for walnut and date biscuits; dates were an ingredient we always had at home – they were sold in solid blocks of compressed fruit ( we also had boxes of single plump dates, but that was only at Christmas time) The blocks of date were cut or shaved and the fruit used in puddings, cakes and desserts – and also, when we visited my aunty who was on a very limited income and lived a bedsit – date rolls! Date rolls were small bridge rolls, split, buttered and filled with slivers of dried dates.
The main variety of nut when I was a child was the peanut, and they were sold either in their shells, or in their red skins, or roasted and salted. Other shelled nuts were used throughout the year in baking, mainly walnuts and almonds, but also occasionally Brazils and hazelnuts. At Christmas there would be nets of fresh nuts, what a treat – although my grandfather who had spent some time in Manaus, always said Brazil nuts weren’t fresh because the nuts didn’t come down the Amazon until the end of January.
Her is the recipe:
Walnut and date biscuits:
- 180 g flour
- 180 g butter
- 350 g castor sugar
- 225 g chopped walnuts ( plus some whole ones for decoration)
- 1 egg
- 350 g chopped dates (I like them in fairly big pieces)
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- ½ tsp bicarb dissolved in boiling water (I just use self-raising flour as I don’t like that bicarb tang)
- cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
- mix in the egg and vanilla
- mix in the rest of the ingredients and you will have quite a sticky mixture
- drop spoonfuls onto a greased and line baking tray, flattening slightly (I use a fork)
- decorate with the walnut halves and bake at 180° C, 350°F, gas mark 4 for about 12 mins until golden brown
My featured image is of my grandpa who lived in Manaus for a while; I’m sure he would love these biscuits – with string black tea!