When I was younger my mum, grandmothers, sister and aunties would attend Mother-Daughter tea mornings fairly regularly.
It would always be on a Saturday morning in a hall at our Civic Centre or a local school hall.
The hall would be buzzing with the hostesses perfecting their tables, each dressing and decorating it to their own individual taste.
I remember that, on those days when my mother was the hostess, our finest china was bubble-wrapped and carefully placed in crates to be transported carefully to and from the venue. Flower arrangements had been designed and ordered weeks in advance and the menu had been carefully put together. I was in charge of place name cards, written in my best cursive handwriting with my special gel pens.
The week beforehand we will start baking lamingtons, koeksisters, melktert, biltong broodjies, cheese & marmite puffs, tuna blini’s, Hertzoggies and lepelsteeltjies. All bitesize.
We would listen to a guest speaker that tried to motivate the girls to live their best life, whilst I’m secretly eyeing out the snacks on the table, desperate for teatime to start.
Once the guest speaker said their peace (I was too young to be interested in their gobblygook) the organiser would announce tea time. The hostess will excuse herself from the table to get some boiled water for the teapots.
Since I was one of the youngest at the table, I had to eagerly await my turn until all the older women had been served. Finally it was time to sink my teeth into those sweet but savoury lepelsteeltjies… It was totally worth the wait.
One by one I stuffed my face with a lepelsteeltjie, then a lamington followed by a milktart, then another lepelsteeltjie.
This much tea and treats needed an interlude. Time for the main event: a South African singer to entertain the ladies with their musical talent.
By midday I was stuffed as a duck! Once the singer hits his high note, it is time for us to carefully pack up the fine china and box up the leftovers (if any!) for the boys at home. I remember waddling to the car with my mother’s prized crockery, hoping I won’t trip and break the whole lot.
A lepelsteeltjie is a savoury biscuit made from cheese and apricot jam.
It is super easy to make as you only need butter, flour, grated cheese and apricot jam.
The very first thing to do is to take out the butter to let it come to room temperature. I normally do this the night before by simply weighing the cold butter on a set of scales, then leaving it on the counter overnight.
Once the butter is softened, place in a large mixing bowl and either use a stand mixer or a hand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix the butter until it is creamy and lightened in colour.
With a spatula (the mixer will make a flour cloud!) gently mix in the flour, salt and baking powder into the butter until just incorporated before giving it a good mix with the mixer. It should look like sand after mixing. Remove from the stand mixer.
Add in the grated cheese and knead in by hand until it forms a dough. Cover and rest the dough for 30 minutes on the counter.
After 30 minutes, take a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon and scoop out little balls of dough roughly the size of a walnut. Roll each ball until it forms a smooth ball. Place the balls on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. They will spread a little bit so ensure there is about an inch space inbetween each ball.
With the back of a wooden spoon, press a hole into each ball taking care not to go all the way through.
Set the oven to 180 degrees Celsius at this stage.
Spoon the apricot jam into a piping bag and pipe a little dollop of jam into each hole. Don’t overfill with jam as it will boil over.
Bake for 15 minutes until lightly browned.
Whilst still warm, pipe some more jam into each hole, then let it cool completely.
Lepelsteeltjie is an Afrikaans word for spoon handle. The name originates from the fact that you use the handle of a wooden spoon to make the hole in which the apricot jam sits.
This recipe doesn’t make an awful lot of lepelsteeltjies and therefore I don’t always have any leftover to store, however, I do make batches for the freezer.
Simply put a single layer of biscuits in an airtight container, place a layer of baking parchment over the top followed by another layer of biscuits. Keep going until your container is full. Place in the freezer for up to three months.
To defrost, take out the amount of biscuits you need and leave on the counter to defrost. They’ll be ready to eat after about half an hour. Unless you are me. Then you’ll love them frozen!!
Do you also have a type of treat that unlocks a memory for you?