On 22 February 1920 a request from ‘Elsie’ of St. Leonards appeared in the ‘Housewives Exchange’ – a column within ‘The World of Women’ page of Sydney’s The Sun newspaper.
‘any kind of useful wrinkle concerning the home-cooking,
dressmaking, care of children-will find a place in this column.’
The request for a recipe for Lemon Rings was one of many requests published in The Sun on that particular Sunday, appearing amongst appeals for getting rid of small black ants; a method for turning beef and mutton suet into soap; and a request for how to make pumpkin jam.
The following week the ‘Housewives Exchange’ column included a response to Elsie’s request from someone not willing to identify themselves beyond the moniker ‘Reader (Erskineville).’ The recipe for Lemon Rings was amongst three published on the day, which otherwise included helpful advice from Ada for cooks who have trouble grilling the breakfast meal (Ada has to prepare breakfast for seven persons, and has no maid); and a useful recipe for ‘Claret Cup’ for ‘J.H.’ of Redfern.
The recipe provided by ‘Reader’ of Erskineville for Lemon Rings is as follows:
Here it is again, a little clearer:
This recipe is sent to Elsie (St. Leonards) by Reader (Erskineville):
Beat 4 oz. butter to a cream and add 2 beaten eggs, separately. Mix in 6oz. sugar, 1lb flour, sifted with 2 teaspoons baking powder, grated rind of a lemon, and a little milk. Make into a paste, roll out about ¼in. thick, cut into rounds, and cut out the centres to form rings, and fry to a light brown in plenty of hot fat.
This is a fairly simple recipe, and there are many similar recipes available today for lemon jumbles, lemon biscuits or lemon butter biscuits. The only question really is what fat to use to fry the biscuits in (Beef? Mutton? Lard?). Given the likely availability of beef dripping (and its use in 1919 as an ingredient in this recipe from Erskineville for Dripping Biscuits), it has been used again here.
4 oz. (115g approx.) butter
6oz. (170g approx.) sugar
1lb (450g approx.) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1/8 cup milk
Fat (for frying)
1. In a mixing bowl, beat butter to a cream.
2. Beat 2 eggs and add to creamed butter.
3. Mix in sugar, adding a little at a time.
4. Add baking powder to flour; sift flour into the mixing bowl; and mix to incorporate.
5. Add grated rind of a lemon and the milk.
6. Mix into a paste.
7. Roll out to about 6mm thickness, and cut into rounds, then remove centres to form rings.
8. Fry in dripping (beef fat) until light brown in colour.
9. Place cooked biscuits on paper towell to collect any excess fat, then transfer to a cooling rack.
With a 7cm (3″) cutter and a 2½cm (1″) hole the recipe produced enough batter for approximately 24 Lemon Rings.
As an alternative to frying, the Lemon Rings may be placed on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cooked in a 180°C (350°F) oven for 18-20 minutes.
Left-over dough may be frozen following these instructions.
Any news of others having attempted the recipe will be happily received!