April was a disappointing month reading wise. I blogged about it here. None of the fiction I read inspired me to get into the kitchen.
May, however, is off to a cracking start with Alli Sinclair’s, The Codebreakers.
Set in Brisbane during WW2, The Codebreakers is based on the women of the real-life top secret Central Bureau – Australia’s Bletchley Park. It’s a great read – and one that features three Aussie tea-time classics – pound cake, scones and yoyo biscuits.
I was tempted to make a pound cake, but figured I hadn’t made yoyos since I was a kid growing up in country NSW so yoyos it was to be.
Yoyo biscuits are an Australian country classic, and as with most country classics, the actual origins are a tad dusty. What is known is that in the late 1800s in South Australia two German immigrants, John and Magdalena Menz commercially made the biscuits.
Since then country women around the country have gotten hold of the recipe and made their own tweaks. What is generally agreed though, is that they should be a meltingly short biscuit filled with buttercream. They should also contain custard powder – this being the primary difference between a yoyo and a melting moment (which contains cornflour).
Not only are these super yummy, they’re also a standard at country shows across Australia – under the watchful collective eye of the CWA (Country Women’s Association). Although if you were to exhibit these at a show, you’d be wanting to weigh each one to ensure a standard 15g of dough was used. And the filling would need to be piped. And therein lies the reason I used to stick with scones for the Bombala country show. I can’t be doing with piping.
Anyways, here’s the recipe I used. But first, a note on the icing sugar – it must be sifted. Here in south-east Queensland icing sugar clumps easily and resolutely and it’s a pain in the proverbial to break up and push through a sieve. I take a shortcut and pop it in the mini whizzer. Job done.
What you need
For the biscuits
- 180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 50g icing (powdered) sugar, sifted
- 150g self-raising flour
- 75g plain (all purpose) flour
- 60g custard powder
For the filling
- 250g icing sugar, sifted
- 40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- A few drops of food colouring
What you do with it
Preheat the oven to 160C (fan) or 180C (static) and line a couple of trays with baking parchment
Cream the butter, icing sugar and vanilla. I use a stand mixer, but handheld beaters will do the trick.
Sift together the flours and custard powder and ado the mixer – a little at first – and slowly so your kitchen doesn’t get covered in flour dust. Keep adding, scraping down the sides of the bowl as required. Mix until it comes together in a dough.
Okay, now it’s time to roll the cookies. You’re after walnut-sized balls – so about a teaspoonful of dough. Place them on your prepared baking trays, leaving a little space between each and flatten slightly with the back of a fork. (Handy hint – dip your fork into flour so the dough doesn’t stick.)
Bake for about 10-12 minutes. You want them to be the lightest of gold and don’t want your cookies to brown. They will firm on sitting. Once out of the oven let them cool on their trays for about 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack and allowing them to cool completely.
Now for the icing.
Beat the butter, vanilla and lemon juice together. Handheld beaters are best for this.
Add the icing sugar – again a little at a time, beating well between additions. It might look as though it’s never going to come together, but it should. Add a few drops of food colouring and mix again.
Sandwich the biscuits together using a teaspoonful of icing and press together lightly.