A 200-year old recipe for Soetkoekies from the wife of Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius

6 cups cake flour
5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp fine cloves
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
2 cups white sugar
3 cups cold salted butter
4 jumbo free range eggs
1 egg, whisked with 2 tbs water or milk

How to
Sieve together the dry ingredients. Rub in the butter until it disappears in the flour. (You could blitz it in your food processor if preferred.) Whisk the four eggs and add to the flour. Knead until it comes together. It will initially look too dry but it all works out, so don’t be tempted to add liquid!

If it’s a very hot day and it looks like the dough will be difficult to work with, wrap it in cling film and pop it in the fridge for half an hour to firm up. If it’s cold out and the dough looks good to go, you can roll it out right away.

Dust your working surface with a bit of flour, roll the dough out to about 4mm and use a cookie press to shape the biscuits. Place them on a baking tray prepared with some non-stick baking spray and paint them lightly with the egg wash. Bake in a preheated 200 degree Celsius oven for 10-15 minutes until light gold.

These biscuits will of course be soft when they come out of the oven but will become hard as they cool down. Keep in an airtight container.

This recipe makes 140 biscuits. I guess they had big families back then. You can very successfully halve the recipe if preferred.

Recipe by Lizet Hartley, courtesy of Melkkos & Merlot, a bilingual blog about food.

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