burnt toast

Tag: biscuits



My general attitude towards heart-shaped things is “Can you go and be kitsch somewhere else please?  It’s making my face ache. With disgust.”

I’m sorry if we don’t share the same outlook on life, but hey, more giant squidgy I-Love-You – holding teddy bears for you. I mean, someone’s got to take them.

However! There’s always a however. These biscuits are an exception. Why? Nostalgia and childhood memories my friend. This one is for you, fellow expats. For all those fondly reminiscing the tins upon tins of delicious Christmas bickies.

Nobody can make a biscuit quite like the Swiss.

Oh it’s not Christmas? Christmas is just an excuse to make biscuits. I don’t need an excuse.

So let me introduce you to the humble Mailänderli. A plain, simple, buttery little thing, with a golden lacquered top with a faint whiff of citrus. A general all-rounder, this biscuit fits perfectly into the breakfast category, best with a cup of milky tea.

cookie sheet



Makes about 100, depending on size


250g butter, softened

220g caster sugar

½ tsp salt

grated rind of one lemon

3 eggs

500g plain flour

1 egg yolk

1 tsp cream

With a handheld mixer, whip the butter, sugar, salt, and lemon rind until well combined and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each one is added. Whip until the mixture turns a few shades lighter. Replace the mixer with a wooden spoon of some sort, because you’ll be adding the flour now, and you don’t want it all over your kitchen floor. Gently stir the flour into the butter mixture, until it comes together as a soft, yellow dough.

Now, divide into two and cling wrap each ball of dough and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. I tend to put one half in the freezer, because it does make a lot.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out between two layers of plastic (I find a plastic bag cut in half works beautifully. That way you don’t risk your biscuits getting too floury or dry) to a thickness of about 8mm. Now it’s time to go wild with your cookie cutters. Use whatever shape you want, just be aware that you may have to adjust the baking time according to the size of your biscuits.

Lay them out on a lined baking tray with enough space between them so they can spread, and pop them back into the fridge tor 15 minutes to firm up.

In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolk and cream, and preheat the oven to 200°C. When the Meiländerli are ready to come out of the fridge, get one of those kitchen paintbrushes and  paint the top of each of them with the egg yolk mixture. Whack them in the oven for about 10 minutes until slightly golden. Whatever you do, keep an eye on them, because they like to be sneaky and go a shade darker, depending on your oven of course.

Take them out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.

They’ll last for a couple of days in an airtight container.



Once upon a time, far far away, there was a little girl that lived in Switzerland who loved Christmas. Every year she’d look forward to lighting the advent wreath, to baking cookies with her mum, to opening the Christmas calendar and to decorating the the cute little pine tree she had helped to pick at the markets. Then, if she was lucky, Santa and his donkey would come by and give her a little bag filled with juicy mandarins, chocolates and peanuts. And then finally, Christmas Day arrived, where she and all the other little children were smothered with gifts, while their families and relatives happily sat by, singing Christmas carols, while the snowflakes outside silently covered the rooftops and footpaths. That time of year was just magical.

On the other side of the world, quite a few years later, this now not so little girl is sitting on the veranda, covered in sunscreen with a cold drink next to her, wishing for the life of her that it will soon be January. No matter how many cute little Father Christmas-hat – bearing wallabies she sees, she is incapable of taking on the Christmas spirit. It’s just too fucking hot.

So reminiscing the past, Switzerland, and snowy Christmas days, here my favourite biscuit recipe. May you too have an awesomely hot/cold/dramatic Christmas, and may we perhaps one day meet on a cold and snowy night to bake biscuits. Merry merry.



I am not much of a biscuit person, so it means quite something that I’m giving you a recipe for some here. They are beautifully simple vanillary melt-in-your-mouth shortbread-style mouthfuls of pleasure.

Makes heaps (or about 4 baking trays worth)


500g plain flour

½ tsp salt

300g icing sugar, plus extra to decorate

400g cold butter, cut into cubes

4 tsp vanilla essence

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

200g ground almonds

2 egg yolks

Combine the flour, salt, and icing sugar in a big bowl. Next, add the butter and rub it into the flour until it resembles coarse sand.

Add the rest of the ingredients and knead into a soft dough. Cover with clingwrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°C. While keeping the dough as cool as possible, shape it into finger – thick sausages. Cut these into 2cm lengths, and roll them into “horns” or bananas or waxing moons or whatever you feel like calling them at that precise moment. Place them on a baking paper – clad tray and bake them for 10 – 15 minutes – they should barely have taken on any colour. A golden hue is perfect.

While the bickies are still warm, turn the biscuits in a plate filled with icing sugar. Once they’re cool, you can always sprinkle on more.

Great with a cup of Lady Grey tea.

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