Biscuits by Force

From Ngaire’s joural, 1st October 1957
I spring cleaned the sitting room today”

I didn’t. Spring clean that is. Instead, I cleared a little spot on the kitchen bench and made forcer biscuits. You might remember that it was my grandmother Ngaire’s birthday last week, and that in 1950, for her 45th birthday, she was given a biscuit forcer.

My mother passed her own biscuit forcer on to me years ago. She said it would be handy for school lunches but I never quite got the hang of it. I remember Mum producing tins full of them, some plain and some iced, but I could never get the consistency of the dough right. Apparently, that’s because I wasn’t using Auntie Verna’s Forcer Biscuit recipe.

Auntie Verna, my father’s aunt, was one of those extraordinary country cooks who could produce miracles with only a wood stove and an egg beater. Verna and Jim produced their own milk and cream on their farm at Banyena – the separating room was just across the veranda from the kitchen – so she was especially famous for her cream cakes. Mum says that while most farmers’ wives fed shearers fruit cake and buns, Verna produced elaborate morning and afternoon ‘lunches’ with  cream horns, chocolate éclairs, sponges and tarts. With their mutual love of cooking, Ngaire and Verna got on well, and I can imagine them swapping recipes. I think they’d both approve of me passing this one on.

Verna May’s Forcer Biscuits

4 oz (110 gms) sugar, 6 oz (170 gms) butter, 1 egg, 10 oz (280 gms)  plain flour, 2 1/2 tspn baking powder.

Cream the butter and sugar, add the egg then the dry ingredients.
Using the biscuit forcer, squeeze directly onto a lightly greased biscuit tray. Don’t use baking paper as the biscuits won’t come away from the forcer cleanly.
If the mixture seems too soft, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer for 10 mins or add another tablespoon of flour.
Bake biscuits in a hot oven (190 C) for 10 minutes or until golden.
Can be joined with icing if you’d like.
Serve smugly – they do look very smart.

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