Shop-bought biscuits were not something I knew as a kid. Oh no, one baked. Being a diplomatic sort, gran never said it outright, but her inference was pretty clear: buying was for lazy wives, bad mums and townfolk.
The world has moved on a bit since then. I figure gran would probably have been OK with me going the shop route, as I mostly do. I will admit though that few things come close to a home-made biscuit and very few things top a soetkoekie. For my foreign readers, literally translated this means ‘sweet cookie’.
I do not consider it a proper soetkoekie if it doesn’t contain cinnamon and cloves. Unlike the very traditional one, this recipe also contains coconut and oats, so purists may take issue with me for calling it a soetkoekie. But it is packed with cinnamon and cloves and, more importantly, gran called it a soetkoekie. She’s no longer around for anyone to argue with, so there you have it – soetkoekies with coconut and oats.
All you need is…
5 cups flour
6 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1½ cups oats
1½ cups desiccated coconut
1 tbs powdered cinnamon
1 tsp powdered cloves
3 cups castor sugar
1½ cups butter, at room temperature (use Lurpak, Kerrygold or Woolies butter)
½ cup of milk
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the oats, coconut, cinnamon and cloves. Cream together the castor sugar and butter. Add the eggs to the butter mixture and beat well. (You will have noticed me being quite particular about the butter. That’s because not all butter is created equal and many of the other brands have a weird rancid undertone that I pick up in a flash and simply loathe.)
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well. (You could be pernickety and try to do this with a spoon, but I find my hands work better.) Add the milk and mix. Allow the dough to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes. Roll small balls (a tablespoon of dough per ball) and press flat on a greased non-stick baking tray. If you find the dough’s a bit sticky to work with, simply lightly flour your hands. Gently flatten balls a bit with the palm of your hand.
Make an indent on top of each biscuit with the back of a fork. This serves no purpose other than decorative. But hey, pretty is important. Bake until light brown in a 190-degree Celsius (that’s 375 F) oven – it takes 20-25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. The biscuits will crisp up as they cool. Store in an airtight container. This recipe makes 70 (they didn’t do things small 60 years ago!) so if you wish to make fewer, simply halve the recipe. (See TIPS, TRICKS & TRIVIA below for my take on an ice cream wafer using these biscuits.)