It is an incredible sense of satisfaction to watch honey flowing out of your extractor, into a strainer, and marvelling at the effort that has gone into your own bees gathering pollen and nectar within five kilometres of your home to make it. You may know that we received a split hive from my beekeeper dad, Don, just over a year ago. Since then the hive population has grown and thrived, and last week we harvested our first honey. Even though I have seen this process many times at my parents' places over the past 40 years, it was different doing it ourselves. It was Duncan and I in the white suits lifting the frames out of the hive, rushing them into the shed to uncap the cells, and splattering the golden liquid on the walls of the extractor.
With about six kilograms of honey extracted from three frames, I was very keen to cook with our very own honey. One of the first recipes that came to mind was the biscuit classic Honey Jumbles. The Arnott's Honey Jumbles must have been a regular in our family biscuit tin in the 1970s because the memory of them immediately evokes nostalgia for our orange curtains, patterned wallpaper, and shag-pile carpet of that decade (and into the next). Searching the internet I came across a Taste.com.au site publishing Arnott's own Honey Jumbles recipe
. I had to give it a go. As a child I wasn't fussed on Honey Jumbles, preferring chocolate coated anything. As an adult I am drawn to the delicious pillowy spiced biscuit combination of honey, treacle, and ginger, and of course the white or pink icing is a super sweet contrast. When it came to making the icing I had cleaned out our cupboards only weeks before and tossed two bottles of ancient red food colouring. A call to my neighbour and she left her bottle of food colouring near the cattle grid entrance to their property with the explanation, "Our drive is a mess. You'd get bogged." If you too have nostalgia for Honey Jumbles I encourage you to recreate them at home. Ours disappeared very quickly, enjoyed by my husband of a similar vintage to me, and a new generation of Honey Jumbles fans, our boys.
Honey Jumbles (via Taste.com.au and Arnott's!)
Makes about 20
What you need: Biscuits - 75g unsalted butter, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup treacle, 1 1/2 cups plain flour, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp bicarb soda, 1 1/2 tbsp milk. Icing - 1 egg white, 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, 1 tsp lemon juice, pink food colouring.
What you do: Pre-heat oven to 175C. Line baking trays with baking paper. In a small saucepan, combine butter, honey, and treacle and stir over a moderate heat until they are melted and combined (but not boiling). Set aside to cool.
Sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl, then add the honey mixture and milk. Stir well to combine, then chill for 30 minutes. Roll mixture into 30 cm logs and cut into 7 cm lengths. You might like to round the ends to achieve a curved finish. Place on prepared trays, allowing enough space for the biscuits to spread during cooking. At this point I chilled the dough for a further 30 minutes to help the biscuits keep their shape. Bake for 12 minutes. Leave on the tray for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.
To make the icing whisk the egg white in a medium bowl until frothy. Sift the icing sugar into the egg white and whisk until smooth. Dip half the biscuits front side into the icing and set aside. If the icing is too runny, add a little more sifted icing sugar until achieving the desired consistency to work with. Add a drop of red food colouring to the icing, mix until colour is consistent and repeat with the remaining biscuits.
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