Two years ago my brother asked me for the recipe my mother used to bake Rock Cakes – known as Klip Cookies in our family in deference to my father’s limited fluency in Afrikaans.
The request brought with it a rush of memories: the mouth-watering aroma of baking filling every corner of my childhood home; my father’s open appreciation of his favourite teatime treat; and of a particular square tin filled to the brim with these tasty fruit-studded cookies.
I recall the tin had a brown background which made the picture of golden shower blossoms decorating the lid stand out most attractively. My mother would line the tin with waxed paper before adding the cooled cookies. To my childish hands there was gastronomic magic within the tin that felt heavy on its first outing, keeping the cookies fresh until the last crumb was eaten.
When we first moved into our current home, a golden shower creeper clambering up the giant Erythrina trees in the back garden happily reminded me of growing up in the then Eastern Transvaal. Now its tendrils poke through the aloes growing next to the pool and it vies with the canary creeper in forming a dense canopy over the ancient plum tree that gave up fruiting years ago. The first buds are already forming and soon we will be treated to cascades of the orange tubular flowers that will brighten up the winter garden while attracting sunbirds, white-eyes, weavers and canaries as well as bees.
Seeing the buds reminded me of the afore-mentioned tin and the Klip Cookies it so often contained. My mouth watered as I paged through my first collection of recipes hand written in a tattered lined hard covered A4 book. Several of the pages have come adrift over the years and the book is now held together with brown parcel tape. Some pages are spattered with egg or butter splodges and now unidentifiable flecks of ingredients, while others bear scorched circles from hot pots or something of that ilk being placed on them. The best recipes look well-used – no pristine pages for them!
The recipe: Cream 250 grams butter with 1 cup sugar. Add 2 well-beaten eggs. Sift together 2 cups flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, a pinch of salt and half a teaspoon grated nutmeg then add to egg mixture, stirring well. Add I cup seeded raisins and stir until evenly mixed. Drop teaspoonful’s of dough onto greased baking sheets and bake at 200°C for 10 minutes until golden brown.
I baked a batch and scraped the bowl with a teaspoon before placing it in the sink. Raw dough … yum! Warning: these cookies do not have a long shelf-life unless baked in secret while no-one else is at home. Do not be surprised if they start being eaten before they are ready to leave the cooling rack. Perhaps that is why my mother baked double batches and kept the lid of the tin firmly closed between tea times.