Old-Fashioned Louise Slice

In 1879, a young man named John Edmonds set foot on the Northern Island Shores of New Zealand. At just 20 years of age, he made the long voyage to a land of promise, leaving behind the gloomy London skies for a new life with his young wife, Jane. Together, they opened a general grocery store and settled into an antipodean lifestyle. He began making his own baking powder to sell in store, and his first batch of 200 tins went on sale that same year.

In 1908, Thomas Edmonds took over his father’s company, offering a gift to loyal patrons with thanks for ongoing custom. It was a 50 page booklet of economical, everyday recipes and cooking hints. Every couple who announced their engagement in the newspaper received a free copy. For the already espoused, housewives could apply in writing to receive complimentary issue.

In 1955 the first Deluxe Edition of the cookbook went on sale. Currently 3.5  million copies of the Deluxe Edition have been printed over the past 50 years. Most New Zealand homes have more than one version.

I have but one.

It’s missing it’s cover and several pages. The remaining pages are well thumbed, dog eared and spattered. The baking section, in particular, has seen many a kitchen. The imperial measurements have hand written metric conversions noted by previous owners. I assume these notations show his or her favourites. One of which, is this, a humble slice.

The very first bite transports me to my childhood… jam slice and cold milk under the mulberry tree.


Old-Fashioned Louise Slice

Slice base
125 grams butter, softened
¾ cup castor sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 ¾ cups plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup raspberry jam

Coconut topping
2 egg whites
¼ cup castor sugar
1 ¼ cups coconut
½ teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 150c.
Grease and line a 30 cm x 20 cm baking tin.
Cream the butter and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg yolks one at a time.
Sift the flour and baking powder together and fold through the mixture
Press an even layer into the tin.
Top with a layer of jam.
Whisk egg whites until stiff and add sugar gradually, a little at a time, continuously whisking.
Fold in coconut and vanilla essence.
Layer topping over the jam and sprinkle with additional coconut, if desired.

Bake  for 30 – 35 minutes and let cool in tin.

Serve with a milk moustache whilst sitting under a mulberry tree.

Disclaimer: I am not a fan of supermarket desiccated coconut, so I make my own dehydrated flakes, which is why, in my image, my topping is… well… rustic. If you use smaller flakes or packet coconut, your topping will be a lot more smooth – so be prepared. 


Date and Nut Loaf ~ Vintage Style

Alongside loving vintage cook books comes the love of vintage cookware. On a recent road trip, I came across a genuine vintage Willow nut loaf tin in a country second-hand store.


I have many vintage recipes that call for round loaf tin. Date loaf, nut loaf, or date and nut loaf in many guises. I have fond memories of my paternal grandmother, manual rotary whisk in hand, whizzing this up and serving  us rounds slathered in rich creamy butter for afternoon tea.  Her mother used to bake to the same recipe, using aluminium foil and empty food cans. Such luxury was the round nut loaf tin to those that could afford one.

The recipe I have chosen is from The Commonsense Cookery Book, this time, the 1959 release. .

One of the things I love finding in vintage recipes is the quirkiness of the measurements. In the absence of exact science and precise measurements bakers call for today, there’s often reference to a bit of this, a dash of that, or a splash of something else.  ‘Cooking by cups’ was very common through the depression, the recession and the post war years. Cup recipes were easy, easy to remember, easy to manage, and with utensils required kept to a few, easily accessible for most people. This recipe trusts you will understand the needs for a small cup of milk. Yes?  IMG_3495_Fotor

Date and Nut loaf using a loaf tin: 1959*

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
Small cup of milk
1 tb butter
Pinch of salt

Beat butter and sugar to a cream.
Add a well beaten egg.
Add milk gradually.
Add chopped dates and chopped walnuts.
Stir in lightly the flour, baking powder and salt, sifted.
3/4 fill the greased loaf tin and secure both ends.
Stand upright and bake in moderate oven 3/4 hour.

This recipe makes enough for 2 loaf tins. Don’t try to fill in a single bake, your tin will explode.

Serve just as my Nan did – slathered in butter and with a nice cup of tea.

Don’t  mind if I do.



Breakfast Cookery 1940

I’m meandering through another vintage cookbook. This time, it’s ‘The Commonsense Cookery Book compiled by the Public School Cookery Teachers Association of New South Wales’.

Settle in, for I’m about to cook you breakfast.

IMG_3280_FotorBeverages first.

Cocoa,  Sir? Madame?  Please note we only serve real cocoa here, none of that sugary powdered drinking chocolate you’ll find in the next Century. Even good old Bournville will contain additional ingredients once it’s acquired by Cadbury.

IMG_3278_FotorNeed more of a caffeine hit?

Of course, Sir.

War rationing has commenced, so we are supplementing some of our café de jour with chicory root. I hear it’s very restorative, Madame.

IMG_3268_FotorCoffee (No. 2) should give you  a hit.

Please, settle in. Read today’s papers. Take in the scenery.

It takes a while to brew.

IMG_3269_FotorNo?  A good, old-fashioned cup of tea instead?  You, Madame, like George Orwell, have excellent taste. He says:

“First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.”

Mr Orwell recommends ‘6 heaped teaspoons to every quart’ of water. There are 2 pints in a quart, which equates to three teaspoons of tea to the pint. May I remind Sir, we are on rations, so the tea will be slightly less… strong… than you may be accustomed to.

Ahhh, but we all must do our bit, mustn’t we?

IMG_3271_FotorBut – we still have bacon.

IMG_3273_FotorAnd eggs from the backyard. Or egg, singular. One egg, one slice bacon. Bacon and egg for Sir?

IMG_3275_FotorMadame? Poached egg?

IMG_3281_FotorOr perhaps you would prefer steamed? Particularly good for women who are slimming, I am advised.


IMG_3284_FotorMay I suggest you finish off with some porridge? I’ll have cook set it on the asbestos mat right away, to allow  you time to digest your slice of bacon, egg and a fine, hot brew.

Thank you for dining with us.

*The Commonsense Cookery Book was first published in 1914. This copy, published in 1940, boasts 236,000 issues.

Cooking for Bachelors ~ 1959 – Ted Moloney & George Molnar

Country bookshops and second-hand stores. They get me every time. I’m the one flicking through the old cookbooks, rattling through kitchenware and cutlery, looking for anything that speaks of the yesteryear when time seemed slower and a little more genteel. Sometimes I find things. Sometimes I don’t.

The National Library of Australia tells me Cooking for Bachelors (1959) by Ted Moloney & George Molnar is pretty hard to get your hands on.  With Molnar’s somewhat risque cartoons peppered through the text, and Moloney’s recurring references to the clique Sydney restaurant circuit and social circles, I’m reminded of how progressive the mid to late 1950’s and early 60’s were for developing socialisation and the food movement. I’m taken back to black and white reruns of Doris Day and Rock Hudson/Cary Grant. Now they were romantic comedies.

IMG_2990Cooking for Bachelors offers me advice right from the point of my boy first leaving home. In the preface, the ‘Letter to Mother‘, I am reminded that ‘It’s a natural urge for a young man to want to spend part of his life, wedged between his mother’s cooking and his future bride’s, as a bachelor. Hence the scarcity of bachelor flats in King’s Cross and St Kilda.’


Cooking for Bachelors assures me this will ‘lead him to an interest in the type of girl every mother approves of… a girl who is interested in cooking.’ In the meantime, my bachelor will need to feed himself and remind himself of the etiquette he learned from his ever loving mother.

We begin with the Elementary Techniques. (I love that a subscription to the Herald is number one in the purchase of necessary instruments. Moloney goes on to explain why: the bad press notices in The Telegraph simply won’t do).

IMG_2977We move through, chapter by chapter.

Our bachelor learns to ‘earn a reputation’ (let’s assume as a reasonable cook!), tackle soups and savouries, ‘many of us remember the great Sydney hostess, her most formal dinners, as we formed up two by two with our lady on our arm and walked slowly to dinner. Those days are gone. You need to know a spoon works more efficiently than a fork for soup, especially when consuming a TV dinner’ and manage vegetables ‘…a vegetable is not a fruit. Neither are you’.  Sauces and seafoods have dedicated chapters ‘…steaming… in the colander place your fish (cleaned). When fish is tender take it out. Taste it. Now throw it away. It’s horrible. Most fish is’ before leaping into full elements of entrees, meats and casseroles, finally triumphing in the fanfare for quenelles, which are every bachelors secret weapon.

IMG_2980Quenelles might sound scary. But the bachelor is reminded to ‘think of the triumph for yourself, the very real pleasure for the guests when served this Lucullen entree which they would not have experienced  since their gourmet tour of Europe’. Once conquering the Quenelle, our bachelor works through managing pancakes before jumping head first into Filet de Boef with truffles. Although, if that’s too daunting, there is a nice recipe for  corned beef and carrots as a fallback.

The bachelor is reminded of modern social graces.  When inviting friends over after a party, ‘open a bottle of red wine… put some flamenco on the new stereophonic and let yourself go. Chop up anything which the wailing, clapping flamenco inspires’ . Or perhaps a light supper with a female from the office? ‘break an egg into a pot of scalding hot soup, cream or consomme at the very last minute. A poached egg turns a bowl of soup into a satisfying casual meal which should appeal to career girls who may be reducing’.

Finally, there are Graduation Exercises. Menus set by Tony Gemenis (Prunier’s, Double Bay); Chales Fourcade (Normandie, Sydney); Mr Luigi of the famous Quo Vadis, and my favourite, from Miss Margaret Fulton, Chief Home Economist at the J. Walter company,  herself.


I’m thinking of cooking my way through Cooking for Bachelors. I’m considering the primary lesson dishes for home, the exercises as dinner parties. I may have to pass on the use of the recommended aluminium saucepans, estimate the weight of a thrupence worth of flour, and make a few substitutions (can you even buy blue boxes of Kraft Swiss cheese anymore?), but I think it would be a fine way of teaching my teen of what to expect in his bachelor years.

And choosing my audience to sample the pâté de foi gras stuffed profiteroles and iced sliced pineapple sprinkled with white Curaçao could be fun.

IMG_2986Would you be interested?