Mock cream and manual training

PATRICIA SOPER
Last updated 10:28 31/01/2014
Southland Times photo

The filling in these light, crisp biscuits always bring back a raft of recollections from a time that has quietly slipped into history.

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I don't make mock cream very often these days but years ago it was considered to be an essential skill.

When fresh cream wasn't available, a sponge or butterfly cakes had to be filled with something. But somehow it was more than that. Mock cream sums up an era when domestic skills were drilled into girls (those of us who are 60-something) and the running of a home was an inevitability. The glass ceiling hadn't been conceived of and working women gave up their jobs and careers when they married.

On reflection this was hardly surprising. Appliances as we know them today did not exist, apart from the vacuum cleaner and washing machine (an electric cake mixer in some lucky homes); hence a wife or housekeeper was a very busy person. Mock cream notwithstanding, I learned a lot from my two years of manual training. Come rain or shine we trundled along to Forth St, clutching baskets lined with tea towels to face our instructor, Miss Finlayson. I wonder how many Southland women remember her?

She could be quite ferocious but there was a kind, caring side to her and, more to the point, she knew her stuff. This twig of a woman impressed on us the importance of keeping a tidy working surface (that didn't stick) and how to make very good Cornish pasties.

Coming from an immigrant family, I was inducted into the culinary mysteries of my adopted home, and in a roundabout way it benefited my mother, who was intrigued by the way things were done "out here".

Such is the stuff of memories, with no mention of oyster sauce, tomato paste, or cardamom pods. How did we survive?

COCONUT DREAMS

Makes about 24

185g butter

120g sugar

1 egg

1 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

180g self-raising flour

100g plain flour

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Method

Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add egg, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat well.

Sift the flours together. Add to the mixture in two lots and stir in well.

Add the coconut.

Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Roll mixture into small balls and place evenly on trays.

Press the balls with a floured fork to flatten.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until pale gold in colour. Cool on a wire rack.

MOCK CREAM FILLING

70g very soft butter

1 cup icing sugar

dash vanilla essence

2-3 tsp very cold milk

about a cup raspberry jam

Method

Cream the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy.

Gradually, and with beaters running, add the milk. The mixture should resemble whipped cream.

Spread a biscuit with jam then cream.

Place another on top.

Continue until all biscuits are used.

Dust with icing sugar if desired.

Cook's note

If your mock cream is a little soft, refrigerate for a few minutes.

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- The Southland Times

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