This is the official recipe from the CWA (Country Womens' Association), Brisbane, the War Widows Guild, Brisbane and Queensland State Headquarters of the RSL (Returned Servicemen's League).
1 cup good quality rolled oats (don't use quick-cook oats)
1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup coconut
125g butter - ESSENTIAL - margarine is not authentic and just WON'T DO!!!
2 tablespoons golden syrup (note that Aussie golden syrup fairly dark, more like a light treacle)
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon boiling water
Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut.
Combine butter and golden syrup, stir over gentle heat until melted.
Mix soda with boiling water, add to melted butter mixture, stir into dry ingredients.
Take teaspoonfuls of mixture and place on lightly greased oven trays; allow room for spreading.
Cook in slow oven (150°C) for 20 minutes.
Loosen while still warm, then cool on trays. Treat them gently while they are warm as they will break easily - they will harden as they cool.
Makes about 35.
I make a double quantity, cook about an eighth of the mixture and make the rest into about seven sausage shapes. Wrap in baking paper and freeze. When guests are on the way I turn on the oven, grab a 'sausage', cut it into around 8 slices and lay them on the tray. By the time the oven temp is right I can just pop in the tray and fresh biscuits are ready in no time at all!
The best thing about this method is that you don’t have to hover around the kitchen all day while it rises, in fact it is perfect for working people as it just needs a couple of minutes first thing in the morning and then can be finished and baked in the evening. This suits our tropical climate as the oven only has to go on as the day cools down a bit. The method can just as easily be used ‘t’other way round’, setting it going at night and baking it first thing next morning – it really is very flexible and I’ve never had a failure with this method.
NOTE: It is vital to use a proper bread flour – this is sometimes called strong flour, baker’s flour or 000 flour. The stated quantity makes one large loaf. As it is so packed full of goodness you will find one slice far more satisfying than 2 or 3 of the awful, tasteless, additive-laden, puffed-up (do you get that I don’t like bought bread?) stuff that you buy in the supermarkets. Also, bread that is given a long time to rise needs less yeast and the flour develops differently to the fast-rise commercial breads so someone with MILD gluten intolerance may be able to eat this bread.
In the morning:
Put one cup of white bread flour, one cup of wholegrain bread flour and a tablespoon of yeast in a large bowl and combine. I am experimenting with using less yeast and it is so far working well with a about a teaspoonsful but start out with the full quantity if you’re a beginner. Zap 2 cups (500ml) filtered water in the microwave for 30secs to warm it to blood heat, add it to the bowl and mix well – a whisk is quicker. The water needs to be filtered as most tap water contains a high level of chlorine and that can inhibit the growth of the yeast. Cover the bowl with a clean teatowel and leave it on the workbench. (I put the cup and spoon in the flour bin to use again later, so the only washing up so far is the whisk).
The mixture needs to be left for at least four hours, but all day is fine and as long as you put it in the fridge it can even be ok for 24hrs. The mixture may separate if left a longer time, with a liquid underneath and the bubbly, floury stuff on top, but just mix it together again and it will be fine.
Later in the day
When you are ready to do the rest – add another cup of white flour, a tsp of sugar or honey, a tsp of salt and a tbsp of oil. Mix in well with a wooden spoon or spatula, then gradually mix in another cup of wholegrain flour. Generally you will need 4-5 cups of flour IN TOTAL but this will vary a lot depending on the weather, the type of flour and so on. Generally I find that at this stage (4 cups) it is still very sticky but mostly keeps its shape. You can add any additions (I like pepitas, linseeds and sunflower kernels but it’s entirely up to you) at this stage, too. Turn out onto a well-floured board, scatter more flour on top and start to knead with the heel of ONE HAND ONLY (or this is the time when the ‘phone rings!), pushing a handful away from you and then pulling and folding it towards you, do a ¼ turn and repeat. Gradually add more flour on top and underneath as above, and knead for 10mins in total. The dough will still be slightly sticky but should now be smooth and hold its shape. Fold the edges under so that it is broadly round or oval, then lay it on baking or greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Slash the top several times with a sharp knife (helps it to rise without splitting) and cover with a cloth. Start the oven now (200C) and leave the tray in a warm place for about 20 mins, by which time the oven will be fully hot and the dough will have increased in size. Place an ovenproof dish of boiling water on the tray with the dough and put the tray in the oven. The water helps to steam the bread as it bakes and gives a better rise. Usually it needs about 25 mins, then I turn it down to about 180 for 10 mins. It is ready when the base sounds hollow. Put on a cooling rack.
IMPORTANT RULE: It is the cook’s duty to eat the first crust, warm from the oven, thickly spread with real butter, in order to test that it is edible!!!
I usually do double quantities, wrap the loaves in tea towels overnight and slice them next morning. What’s not needed that day goes straight into the freezer ‘coz it’s far too tempting.
SWEET TOMATO JAM
Note that this is a sweet jam for toast or scones. Why not try a big blob in the middle of a bowl of porridge on a chilly morning - yum.
3Kg of ripe tomatoes
2 to2.5 Kg sugar
½ cup lemon juice
Maybe some pure pectin if required*
Peel the tomatoes by cutting a cross lightly into the skin and plunging into a pot of boiling water. When the skins start to peel back take the fruit out and put into cold water. The skins should come off easily. Don’t worry if some bits of skin are left – in fact you can leave all the skin on if you wish and I would definitely not peel cherry tomatoes!
Chop the tomatoes roughly and put into a big pot with about half the sugar. Heat gently for about 10 mins, stirring until the sugar has dissolved – the tomatoes should start to get a bit ‘squishy’. Add the rest of the sugar and all the LJ, again heating gently until the sugar is dissolved. Then bring up to the boil, stirring frequently and skimming off any scum that rises to the top. Once it is boiling turn down to simmer, put your clean jars in the oven on low and boil the kettle. Put your lids into a deep bowl and cover with boiling water. When the jam starts to feel a bit thicker (probably after about 20-25 mins) test for set (eg put a little on a saucer that’s been in the freezer). When you are happy with the set ladle the jam into the jars, screw the lids on tightly and turn upside down for a couple of minutes then leave to cool the right way up.