This recipe comes from Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s cookbook ‘Sweet‘. I’m attracted to all things Ottolenghi – the man cannot put an ingredient wrong as far as I’m concerned. But I was especially excited for this book, which is co-written with chef Helen Goh, a fellow Melbournian, who like me, migrated to London. And also, like me, loves a good biscuit.
Ottolenghi’s career actually began as a pastry chef. We know him now for his abundant salads and delicious savoury recipes, one of my favourites is the green bean and orange salad with hazelnuts. However, in Sweet he shares his original passion for the sweet stuff, shared by Goh. In fact, when Goh first start working for Ottolenghi in London, the yo-yo was one of the first things she made for him (after noticing a gap in his cake display which lacked a great biscuit), she says, “there’s something about Australian baking that is universally accessible and easy to enjoy.”
Yo-Yos are a very Australian biscuit and I have very fond memories of eating them as a little girl. They are ubiquitous with the cafes I grew up with. Buttery, soft biscuit and, usually, a zesty lemony icing as the filling. The addition of rhubarb in this recipe is a game-changer, it really brings it to life – although in a very subtle way, maintaining the integrity of an original yo-yo.
The icing can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept refrigerated. Once these are ready, store the biscuits in the fridge as they will slide around a bit once the butter in the icing melts. They will keep for 5 days in an airtight container.
- 2 smalls sticks of rhubarb (about 70g)
- 65 g unsalted butter (room temperature, cubed)
- 130 g icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 175 g plain flour
- 65 g custard powder
- 65 g icing sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 170 g unsalted butter (room temperature, cubed)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a small baking tray with baking paper.
Trim, wash and cut the rhubarb into 3cm lengths. Spread the rhubarb out on the lined baking tray and roast for 30 minutes, or until softened. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before transferring to the small bowl of a food processor.
Process to a puree, then add the butter. Sift in the icing sugar, add the lemon juice and continue to process for a couple minutes: it seems like a long time, but you want it to thicken, which it will do as it's whipped.
Transfer to a small bowl and chill in the fridge for a couple hours to firm up. You don't want the icing to be at all runny, so add a little more icing sugar if necessary: it needs to hold when sandwiched between the biscuits
Sift the flour, custard powder, icing sugar and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Mix on low speed to combine. Add the butter and continue to mix on low speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the vanilla extract, increase the speed to medium and mix for about 30 seconds, until the dough comes together.
Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Pinch off small bits of dough and use your hands to roll them into 2cm round balls: you should have enough dough for 30 balls. Place them on the lined baking trays, spaced apart. Press the back of a small fork into each biscuit to make a firm mark (dip in flour first to prevent any sticking).
Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through, until the biscuits are dry on the bottom but have not taken on too much colour. They will be relatively fragile when warm but still firm to the touch. Set aside the trays to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To assemble, sandwich pairs of biscuits together with the icing, with the "forked" sides facing outward. You want about about 0.5cm of icing showing, once pressed down, in each biscuit.