This Sunday, in the UK, it is Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day: a day to treat our mums, grannies and maternal folk to show them how much we appreciate them.
Whilst listening to the radio this morning, I discovered that the origins of this day are to be found in the 16th century, when Christians were expected to return to their “mother churches” where they were baptised or to their local church or cathedral on the fourth Sunday in Lent.
By Victorian times, when children as young as ten often left home to go into service, it became common practice to take the opportunity on this day to visit your mother, take her wild flowers and to spend time with your family.
Modern day celebrations are often criticised for being too commercial (as are most modern Red Letter days in the West) but I can vouch that there is nothing more lovely than being presented with a hand drawn card and a tray of a comically assembled breakfast at 6am on Mother’s Day, eager faces slowly coming into focus behind said tray, wearing a look of pride and absolute love.
So, if you fancy baking a wee treat for someone you love, and it doesn’t have to be your mother, or anyone’s mother for that fact, then I have a quick biscuit recipe that tastes so much more than the few minutes it takes to execute it.
My inspiration for them is the Greek celebratory biscuits, Kourabiedes. Their texture is like nothing else I’ve ever tasted, and each family and Mumma has her own recipe. I once made 300 as favours for my friends’ wedding (they had met on holiday in Cyprus and it seemed a lovely touch to pay a nod to the start of their relationship on the day that they married) and couldn’t believe how light they were. Traditionally rolled in icing sugar and round or crescent shaped, these almond biscuits simply melt in the mouth and are very more-ish.
At the time, I wondered how they would taste if they were made with Pistachios, not Almonds, and flavoured with Rosewater, not Vanilla (and, as some of you know, it’s a flavour combination that I am fond of). As I planned my recipe it occurred to me that they would look really pretty baked in a Madeleine tin and sprinkled with Caster Sugar, but you can choose the more traditional shaping.
Mother’s Day seemed the perfect opportunity to try out a recipe, so here it is:
Pistachio and Rose Biscuits
250g of Soft Butter
70g of Icing Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Rosewater (if you are a big fan of Rose flavour then you can add an extra half teaspoon)
65g of Pistachios, chopped
265g of Plain Flour
(either extra Icing Sugar, if you plan to roll your biscuits the traditional way, or a tablespoon of Caster Sugar to sprinkle my Madeleine shaped versions)
1. Cream the Butter and the Icing Sugar for 10 minutes in an electric mixer. Yes, I said 10 minutes and don’t stop a minute before. It should have reached the consistency of a lightly whipped double cream.
2. Add the Rosewater whilst the mixer is running slowly.
3. Now add the chopped Pistachios and mix again, then add the flour a spoonful at a time (mainly so it doesn’t fly up out of the mixer and all over the place). Keep mixing until incorporated.
4. Chill the biscuit mixture for a good half hour until it is firm enough to handle (you can make the dough in advance and keep it chilled and covered in the fridge for a day or two).
5. I greased and floured a regular sized Madeleine tin and filled each hole with 35g or mixture. Alternatively, roll 35g pieces into tight, round spheres, and place on a baking sheet.
6. Bake at 180C (160C fan oven) for 15 minutes. They should be golden but still soft. Allow them to cool (completely if in a Madeleine tin). I sprinkled mine with a little Caster Sugar, but if making traditional shaped biscuits roll them in Icing Sugar once cool.
These little treats really are delicious served with tea or coffee after a meal. So easily packaged up, they also make make the perfect gift and accompaniment to a beautiful bunch of roses for your mum.