Mum’s Recipe Book
Two Classic Recipes from Generations Past
These are two of mums classic afternoon tea recipes; Date Cake and Shortbread Pecan Balls. They’re very easy to make .. even easier if you use a kitchen wizz.
I have such strong memory of mum inviting the “ladies” over for afternoon tea. Beautifully dressed women with powdered faces and smooth lipstick pressed on cheeks as they said hello. The strong smell of perfume, each with their own, creating a heady mix of scent in the dining room. A medley of fine china cups and saucers patiently waiting on the linen covered dining table. No two were the same as mum could never choose only one dining setting, so every cup, saucer and plate was a different pattern.
I loved to scan the collection of gilded edged tea cups and choose the pattern that was mine for the day. And then there were the teaspoons and cake forks, of course! and linen napkins which fine white embroidery on them.. properly starched, stiff and floppy. The flowers, most often camellias, picked from the garden were always artfully styled (a sense of balance influenced, she used to say, by the Ikebana lessons she took in the 1970’s).
The room was filled with clinking cups, warm conversation and laughter It was the like the Country Women’s Association in the city … with aunts and friends and family acquaintances, older and younger women, all sharing their stories. And mum in her element, serving wonderful home made sweet and savoury fare served on green glass plates and platters (she had a collection of post war green glass above the kitchen table which would catch the sunlight and gleam through the kitchen). Here are two of my favourites from her extensive recipe collection.
Classic Date Cake
I have often replaced the plain flour with spelt flour, reduced the sugar or mixed it with coconut sugar but really, just try the classic first.
You can use a lamington tin (31cm x 25cm x 3cm / 13″ x 10″ x 2″) if you want more of a cake or a loaf tin if you prefer more of a Date Loaf.
- 8 oz (225 gms) pitted and roughly chopped dates
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda
- 3 oz (85 gms) Butter
- 1o oz (285 gms) Plain flour
- 1 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 egg
Line your cake tin with baking and grease the sides well.
In a small bowl, soak the dates in the hot water, add the Bicarbonate of soda and mix well.
In a large bowl rub together; the butter, flour, baking powder and sugar. (Or put them all in the kitchen wizz and transfer them to a bowl later)
Then add the egg and the dates and mix together mix together. Pour into your baking tin and cook in a moderate oven for 20 minutes (if using the loaf tin it maybe be a bit more)
For the topping
Ina saucepan boil together the following ingredients for 3 minutes then spread over the cake and top with chopped walnuts or pecans.
- 5 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons cream
Shortbread Pecan Balls
These delicious little morsels are dusted with icing sugar when they are still warm from the oven. The icing sugar sets into the balls giving them a wonderful sweet coating.
- 2 cups Plain flour
- 1 cup Butter
- 1/4 cup Icing Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla
- 1 cup chopped Pecans
- extra icing sugar for dusting
Mix all the ingredients (except the pecans) in the kitchen wizz. When it just starts to bind into a dough stop the machine and transfer the dough to a bowl.
Add the chopped pecans and mix into the dough. Take a spoonful in your fingers and roll into a ball between your palms. Place on a lightly greased baking tray.
Bake at 300-325 degrees (160C) for 30 minutes.
Take out of the oven and cool for a short time. Roll in Icing Sugar while they are still warm.
TIP: You can divide the mix into two and bake one and save the other one in the fridge, wrapped plastic to make second batch later.