If you’ve been visiting here for a while you’ll know that at my bridal shower last year, my grandma gifted me three of her old recipe books one of which was an original 1940s edition of The Commonsense Cookery Book. I posted a photo of its guide to meat cuts on Instagram last week and learned just how popular this brilliant book is.
Little did I know it has a recent version in hard copy and metric and more than one million copies have been sold. There’s nothing like an original though. The copy I have even has ads for local businesses in the front (I’ll share them another time). I especially like the little details like serving instructions – serve on a doily on a plate and the specific instructions like ‘attend to oven.’ I took that to mean pre-heat as I assume attending back in 1940 had something to do with Aga.
Last week was my first time cooking from the book and I had my heart set on baking biscuits which I found in the ‘cake’ section. I think anything that has flour and sugar and is baked falls under this category. I’m a sucker for anything with a quirky name but really, who can pass up baking sunbeams especially lemon and macadamia sunbeams?
If they’re not guaranteed to brighten your day then I don’t know what is. From the sounds of the recipe, I thought that the resulting biscuit would be rather crunchy, sort of like a sugar cookie but boy was I wrong.
Sunbeams are like little bites of heaven. It takes just the gentlest bite to snap off a little mouthful of buttery, tender-crumbed deliciousness. If it weren’t for the macadamias, the entire biscuit would melt on your tongue. I’m not sure how I came to combine macadamia and lemon other than purely for the fact that I had both in the fridge at the time.
The beauty of the recipe is that you can add any sort of flavouring you like. A sprinkling of brown sugar and cinnamon would be wonderful in winter and orange zest with poppyseed would be a nice burst of freshness. I imagine crystallised ginger and a little lime zest would be pretty delicious too. Oh the possibilities!
Just as a side note, if you noticed there are quite a few different photos in this post you’re very observant. I was having a very indecisive afternoon. The photo above was taken on the floor after I piled everything up to take it back to the kitchen. I thought it made a cute arrangement.
I strayed a little from the original recipe and modernised it by making the dough in the food processor. They’d be pretty quick to make by hand but using the machine meant that from opening the cookbook to transferring the lemon and macadamia sunbeams to the wire rack to cool they took about 25 minutes.
You could even prepare the dough, fill it and roll it up the pop it in the freezer ready to slice up and bake at a moment’s notice. Enjoy!
What about you? What would you fill them with? Have you heard of The Commonsense Cookery Book?
- 115g butter, chopped
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 60g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp crushed macadamias, toasted
- Place the butter, flour, baking powder and salt in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles wet sand.
- Add the sugar and blitz again then add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest and process until it forms a dough.
- Take it out of the mixer and roll out on a lightly-floured surface until it is 1cm thick and a rectangular shape.
- Sprinkle the crushed macadamias over the top and then roll it up from a long side to form a log.
- Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes (optional – I didn’t and they were perfect but if it’s really hot you probably want to do this step).
- Pre-heat the oven to 170C fan-forced and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Slice the dough up into 1cm slices and place on the baking tray leaving 2cm between each one.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until they start to turn golden.
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