I am very happy to buy Lois Daish 'A Good Year' recipe book a year ago, not only for a collection but also very useful as the recipes work all the time. I love the photos, simple styles (which is not too good to eat with expensive tablewares kind of style ), and homey recipes which tend not to produce an amazement, like she wrote
'We sit at the table and the eating begins. The food is simple and no one gasps with amazement. That's the way I like it. I want us all to enjoy the food, but to talk about something else.'
I followed her food column on The NZ Listener week after week, though have missed some issues as we didn't go out for papers. Now that she's retired, I certainly will miss her recipes.
She ever wrote about Famous Four, the biscuits which are famous nationwide in the old or modern kitchen. They are pretty easy to make and are no fussy. I will be writing more of her Famous Four recipes to pay a tribute to her as my favorite food columnist. I have written about Anzacs last time to be included as one of the Famous Four she wrote but I decided to write my own recipe. Still I was inspired by her.
For chocolate icing, I used my own recipe. This recipe produces dense-free textures. I have to reduce the amount of sugar in the biscuits because the icing will make it too sweet for the kids. I also substitute the flour with gluten-free flour.
Source: A Good Year [Lois Daish. 2005. A Random House Book. New Zealand] p.62
200g soft butter,
60g caster sugar,
1 tsp vanilla essence,
170g standard flour,
2 Tbs cocoa,
1 tsp baking powder,
60g crushed cornflakes or wheatflakes
Chocolate Icing: 125g icing sugar, 2 Tbs cocoa, 2 Tbs water, 2 Tbs caster sugar, 2 Tbs butter
To Finish: 24 freshly cracked walnut halves or pieces (I used whole pecans)
Preheat the oven to 175C (not fan-bake). Line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and use an electric beater to beat until pale and softly whipped. Add the vanilla. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix thoroughly, followed by the crushed cornflakes.
Using your fingers, or a teaspoon if you prefer, put mounds the size of a small walnut on the lined baking tray, allowing some room for spreading. Use a fork to lightly press the afghans, but don't make them flat and thin. Bake for 12-14 minutes. The tops will have started to develop small cracks, but the biscuits will still feel slightly soft when pressed. The colour will be almost unchanged. Cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack until cool.
Chocolate Icing: Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a medium sized bowl. Put the water, caster sugar and butter into a small pot and heat gently until the butter melts and the mixture starts to boil. Simmer for 1 minute to form a syrup, then remove from the heat. Beating all the time, pour about ¾ of the hot syrup into the icing sugar and cocoa. Add the remaining syrup if needed to make a thick, glossy icing. Or you may need to add a little more hot water if the icing is too thick. While the icing is still warm, spread it onto the cool afghans. Immediately press the walnuts into the icing before it sets. Store in an airtight container.