Biscuits for morning tea

This week, a work colleague will be leaving us for six months to embark on a very exiting project in Queensland. So obviously we have to have a special morning tea for her send-off! Time to start baking…

I found these recipes for some lovely old-fashioned biscuits in the National Archives’ collection – they’re quick to make (ideal, because I have to cook them after the kids go to bed) and they’re yummy.

morning tea in 1938

These elegant women partaking of morning tea in this 1938 photo could easily have been eating biscuits made from the recipes on this page. Or would it have been more lady-like just to have a cup of tea? NAA: M10, 2/143

Honey Cakes
1 tablespoon butter, 1 beaten egg, 1/4 cup of honey, 1 cup self-raising flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, nuts or chopped fruit may be added if liked. Put in basin one by one and stir slowly til thoroughly mixed. Drop teaspoons [of the mixture] on a large buttered tin and bake for about ten minutes.

(note: I added a tsp of cinnamon to the ingredients. I set the oven at 200 deg. C. I also felt very virtuous because I was cooking with homegrown honey and eggs. Yay!)

Jam Drops
2 cupfuls of flour, 1/2 teaspoon bi carb soda, 1 tsp cream of tartar, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cupful butter, 2 eggs. Add the eggs, well beaten, then add the flour. Make into little balls, put a hole in the centre, put jam therein and bake for 15 minutes in a quick oven.

(note: I’ve interpreted a quick oven to be 200 deg. C)

Ginger Nuts
10 oz flour, 4 oz lard, 4 oz sugar, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1/2 tsp bicarb soda, 3 tablespoons golden syrup. Beat the lard and sugar to a cream, add the syrup, flour, ginger and the soda dissolved in a little water. Mix and work all up into a stiff dough, adding more flour if necessary. Divide into pieces the size of a nut, and bake in well-buttered tins in a quick oven.

(note: I’ve interpreted a quick oven to be 200 deg. C)

Princess Mary Biscuits
1 lb flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 8 oz butter, 4 oz castor sugar, 1 egg. Cream the butter and sugar. Add egg well beaten. Slowly mix in flour and salt until quite smooth. Add a few drops of water if needed. Roll out paste. Cut into small rounds. Put into greased tin. Bake ten minutes in a cool oven. When cool, put together with jam or jelly.

(note: I’ve interpreted a cool oven to be 160 deg. C)

These recipes are all from a cook book called The Everyday and Everyway Recipe Book. Published by a Melbournian called Thomas James Holmes, sales from the book were intended to raise money for returned soldiers still in hospital. The book was published in 1925, seven years after the end of the Great War. It’s sobering to think about the men and women who required such long-term care.

War veterans in the Anzac Hostel

A ward for the totally and permanently incapacitated in an Anzac Hostel, 1919 NAA: A7342, Album 1

Holmes published a few books during the 1920s. He submitted them for copyright, which is why his books are in the Archives’ collection. Three were cook books, and one was a general knowledge book, but the book he submitted for copyright in 1924 is my favourite. Titled Revelations: Mental Telepathy,Thought Transference, Mind Reading, Second Sight, Hypnotism etc, it seems to be a radical shift from his other books!

Hmmmmm… the Honey Cakes are just out of the oven and three of them have disappeared already. I’m going to have to hide them if I want to take any to work!

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