My mother rarely wears perfume. She doesn’t need it; she smells of clean laundry drying in the sunshine, buttered toast with tea, and paperback novels. She smells like home.
I can count the number of times I have seen her wear lipstick on one hand. She is a jeans and t-shirt lady with regal bearing who does a wicked ‘Twist’.
She has the most beautiful hands. Strong and sure, mothering hands. Made to soothe, to gather in tightly, to hold onto mine so that I feel like nothing could ever go wrong as long as she is with me.
Mum has a storytelling voice. (Although I may not always have the ears to listen.) She has advice for every situation, and dispenses it in a voice whose accent is softened by remnants of her native Danish tongue. She has love to give, affection to spare, and I am so lucky to have her.
She taught me to be curious, to revel in the use and accumulation of a wide vocabulary, and to look in the mirror and smile at the woman who looks back.
Mum imparted to me the truly nourishing value of getting housework out of the way before morning tea, movie popcorn lunches, and afternoon naps.
The sweet, rich, floral and timber scent of almonds always reminds me of Mum: the marzipan that she loves as an after dinner treat, the whole nuts that usher Christmas time into our home, and the Linzer torte pastry that she let me eat the scraps of when I was a child at her knee in the kitchen.
These Almond and Spelt Biscuits are for my Mama. Best served with a cup of tea and a book, of course.
Almond and Spelt Biscuits
These biscuits make perfect holiday gifts as the dough can be rolled out and cut into any shape you desire. You could leave them plain, or sandwich the shapes together with raspberry jam as I have done here. The sweet almond flavour is a change from the usual gingerbread or spice cookies that arrive at Christmas. If you wanted to conjure even more Scandinavian spirit, you could use cherry jam to sandwich the biscuits.
Makes about 22 sandwiched biscuits
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1/2 teaspoon almond essence
- 1 1/4 cups wholemeal spelt flour, extra for bench
- 2/3 cup rice flour
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/2 cup raspberry jam
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/4 teaspoon almond essence
- Place butter, sugar, and essences in a medium-size mixing bowl. Cream together with a wooden spoon (or electric mixer) until smooth and fluffy.
- Add spelt flour, rice flour, and almond meal. Mix into butter and sugar until it resembles a shaggy dough.
- Use your hands to clump the dough together into a large ball. Turn out onto the counter and gather all dough together, and pat into a large disc.
- Wrap dough in a double layer of plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 180C (360F) and remove dough from refrigerator.
- Line two un-rimmed cookie sheets with baking paper.
- Divide dough in half. Dust bench and rolling pin with extra spelt flour. Roll out dough to 5-7mm thickness (1/4 inch).
- Cut out desired shapes and place on lined cookie sheets – leave about 2cm (1 inch) between biscuits. Re-roll the dough as necessary and re-flour the bench and rolling pin as needed.
- Once you have finished cutting out all the shapes, place cookie sheets in the freezer for about 10 minutes (this helps biscuits keep their shape).
- Bake biscuits for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.
- Remove and leave to cool completely.
- Once cookies are completely cool sandwich pairs together with a small amount of raspberry jam. Place on a sheet of baking paper. Mix together icing sugar, water, and almond essence. Spoon icing into a sturdy plastic sandwich bag and snip just the slightest bit off the end. Drizzle icing over the paired biscuits.
- Leave icing to set, and then serve.
Tell me, dear reader, is there a scent that conjures a loved one to your mind?