The Australian Women's Weekly, as every Australian knows, isn't just the publisher of a long-running women's magazine. They also produce a range of in The Australian Women's Weekly, as every Australian knows, isn't just the publisher of a long-running women's magazine. They also produce a range of inexpensive but reliable cookbooks, and the new ones out this year are a great sight better-looking than the ones of three or even two decades ago (more in line with the ABC's delicious. magazine, for instance).
When I was growing up, my mum had this book, The Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits. As a young teenager, I often made things from this book on the weekends, and have pored over it so many times I not only know every page, but it also brings my childhood and adolescence vividly to life. Funny the things that can be triggers. This is the book that has the Gingerbread recipe I still use, not to mention the one for Monte Carlos and Melting Moments, among others. It's such an utterly 80s book, though, that I never expected to have the chance to get my own copy (unaware as I was to the fact that AWW had reprinting it multiple times since 1982, including in 2003, though it looks quite different).
[caption id="attachment_18938" align="alignleft" width="300"] The original edition, left, and the new collector's edition, right.[/caption]This year, though, after thirty-one years, AWW reproduced it in its ORIGINAL copy, complete with daggy brown photographs with uncorrected white balance exposure and some very interesting crockery. It is the original reproduced with a nice "Vintage Edition" label on the cover, a "Collector's Cookbook" in all its glory.
Going through it again, it all came rushing back. All the recipes I'd tried, all the ones I'd wanted to make but never did. The measurements are in grams and cups, and the oven temperatures are in the old style: slow, moderate-slow, moderate, moderate-hot, hot. Luckily, I grew up with this and I know what these words correspond to: moderate is your standard 180ºC - though if you didn't, there is a Quick Conversion Guide in the back which also now includes the British "gas mark" settings. The ingredients lists are straight-forward, the methods as well. There's none of the Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson-style "talk", no additional information, calory counting or "ideal for freezing" notes. They have edited the methods, though, I noticed when comparing my mum's old edition (which doesn't have a date, so I don't know what year it is) with the new one. There's also a glossary in the new edition, and the index is more thorough and cross-references.
The cookbook loosely divides the recipes by ingredients, in alphabetical order: Almond, Apricot, Bran, Cheese, Cherry, Chocolate, Coconut, Coffee and so on. Hence, savoury and sweet are mixed together, though some types of biscuits are isolated: shortbread, meringues. There are only a few recipes per category, and 126 in total (unless I miscounted, which is always a possibility!). There are several different kinds of truffles and about 26 slices. It has classic oldies like Coconut Ice and Chocolate Crackles, the staples of many a school fair, and of course choc-chip. There're brandy snaps, cheese sticks, fancy biscuits and easy-peasy biscuits. It's one of those go-to cookbooks that every kitchen needs, and I'm so glad it's still in print.