"Her Saturdays were something of a ritual. She always went to the President Hotel for tea in the morning, and then, after a quick shopping trip, she would return and make lunch. In the afternoon she would have a nap, as Mr J.L.B. Matekoni also sometimes did, before getting up to make biscuits for tea." (from Tea Time for the Traditionally Built)
The scale of Mma Ramotswe’s biscuit output is very much more modest than that of Prince Charles, of whom Mma Ramotswe has read. She had determined that one or two of the plain Marie biscuits would definitely make space in the tin labelled ‘pencils’ if ever a royal biscuit should happen along. After all, these were biscuits not only of a royal, but of a man who respects cattle.
Lemon and Condensed Milk Biscuits
Makes around 24 2-inch diameter biscuits
These egg-free biscuits are light, yet rich. Friends or family should appreciate the traditionally built lady rousing herself from a well deserved rest and, as she fills the home with the warm smell of baking, such a provider may wish to check that condensed milk, spooned straight from the tin, tastes quite as delicious as she remembers it. Members of the community look to ‘ladies with a reputation for baking’ to answer such questions and it is important not to disappoint.
12 oz plain flour 8 oz unsalted butter
2 tsp baking powder ½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp grated lemon rind 4 oz caster sugar
7 fl. oz condensed milk Small quantity icing sugar
Pinch of salt
Cream butter and sugar well. Add condensed milk and beat until well mixed.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and add to the butter mixture, with lemon juice and grated rind.
Beat until thoroughly mixed through.
Grease two large baking trays, or line with greaseproof paper.
Take teaspoons of the mix and roll gently into 1 inch balls and place on baking tray.
Flatten gently with a fork until they are about ¼-inch thick and ensure they have room for manoeuvre to avoid sticking together. Bake at 170˚Cfor 12 – 15minutes (160˚C fan-assisted oven).
Cool on the tray.
Dust very lightly with icing sugar.
Mma Ramotswe's Cookbook: Nourishment for the Traditionally Built by Stuart Brown (with foreword by Alexander McCall Smith) is published by Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn.