My grandmother had a rather spectacular recipe book. It doesn’t look like much – a battered exercise book with the cover torn off – but it contains magic. All the family recipes are in there, and although she died when I was very small, I feel that I know her little through the Baumtorte, the Apfel Kuchen and the Sachertorte recipes.
Here are her Vanilla Crescents. I loved rolling these out as a child and coating them in sugar. They make me long for evenings in front of the fire, licking sugar crystals off my fingers.
6 oz flour
2 oz semolina
4 oz softened butter
3 oz vanilla sugar (2 for cooking, 1 for dusting)
drop of almost essence
Mix the ingredients together in a bowl until a rough dough is made. Then, with your fingers, roll out small sausage-shaped pieces and pinch them into crescents. Place them on oiled grease-proof paper and put onto a baking tray.
My mother and grandmother always keep a jar of vanilla sugar in the larder for making cakes and desserts. All you do is put one or two vanilla pods into a sealed container of caster sugar and leave it there. Every six months or whenever the pod begins to lose its potency, replace it with a fresh one.
Bake in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.