Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Old fashioned raisin squares
These cookies were my favourites when I was a little girl in Bloemfontein, when two big glass cookie jars stood near the back door in the kitchen, every now and then going ke-chink, as a lid was lifted and replaced, very quietly and sneakily, triggering my mother to yell from the other end of the house, down the passage, "Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeil!!!" as our swift-footed, chubby young neighbour made off with his haul...The back door was always open. And Neil always came back. Can't blame him.
160 gr/ 5 1/2 oz raisins (or currants)
1 cup water
1/2 a cup sunflower oil
200 gr/ 7 oz sugar
1 lightly beaten egg
220 gr / 8 oz cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarb (baking soda)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 a teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
70 gr/ 2 1/2 oz chopped pecans
Heat oven to 375'F (190'C). Heat raisins/currants and water in a saucepan to boiling point. Remove from heat and stir in the oil. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in the sugar and the egg (if it is still too hot the egg will scramble).
Sift dry ingredients(I never do, lazy) into a bowl and pour in wet ingredients. Stir. Stir in the nuts.
Now, "Pour into a greased Swiss roll tin," says my mother's recipe. This is sweet. I don't know if people would know them as Swiss roll tins anymore. Except perhaps in the Midwest, or Martha-world? We knew them, because we were fed freshly-made Swiss rolls stuffed with apricot jam and sugary on the outside, then, for special dessert. Those were in the days of sit-down lunches. Father in suit, home from chambers, children in school uniforms, home from school. Doris Day singing in the kitchen. Milk to drink, from a jug on the table. MILK!!!
Back to the cookies. Now, a rectangular cookie tin with sides about half an inch high will do, greased. Bake for 12-16 minutes until a skewer comes out clean, or a finger pressed leaves no dent (that's my instruction. Scientific, hey?).
When cool, ice with water icing (powdered sugar and water) made with lemon juice instead of water. This is key. It is delicious. After the icing has set, slice into squares in pan, I don't know why I turned mine out to cool. They are easy to lift out square by square.
Try not to eat them all at once. They are good for everything. Stress, sadness, an excess of anything.
And brilliant for breakfast with cup of strong coffee.