Recipe: Old English Matrimonials for Melissa

I have a terrible, terrible habit as a cook.  Actually, I have many terrible habits as a cook, as I’m sure you all know by now, not least of which is my complete inability to follow a recipe even when I haven’t made a particular dish before.  (You should always, always make the recipe properly once before altering it, especially with baking, because baking is precise.  Apparently.) Bad Catherine!  But the terrible habit I have in mind here is that people say ‘Oh, that’s lovely, can you give me the recipe?’, and a year or more later, their email is still languishing in my in-box and I haven’t remembered to write down the recipe for them.

Currently, I believe I owe Megan curd cheese and something to do with mustard greens, Beth a Moroccan potato salad, Michele a couple of choc-chip cookie recipes which include quinoa and cannelini beans, respectively, Shakira lemon drink, Cecily agar jellies, and Melissa Old English Matrimonials.  And anyone who asked for a recipe in person is probably out of luck...

Since I’m currently tidying up my in-box, I’m going to try settling some of these culinary debts at the same time.  I’m starting with the Matrimonials (so called because of their rough appearance – one is supposed to take the rough with the smooth) for no other reason than that’s the recipe I was able to locate most easily.  It’s a lovely lunchboxy sort of slice, with jam and oats and coconut and biscuit, and it’s lovely and easy to make. 

This recipe is adapted very slightly (with lots of additional commentary) from  one in Sweet Old-fashioned Favourites, which I think is one of the best Women’s Weekly Cookbooks out there (not that I have anything against their other books, but I tend to grow out of their savoury ones, whereas their baking books never stop being useful).

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1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
180 g butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup (90 g) shredded coconut
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup raspberry jam

Now What Will You Do With It?

Preheat oven to 180°C, and line 20 x 30cm slice tin with baking paper.

Rub together butter and flour in a large bowl (think scones), then rub in the sugar, coconut and oats.

Press half of this mixture firmly over the base of the slice tin – this is going to be a biscuity layer, so you want it to cohere.

Spread the jam over the biscuit layer, and then sprinkle the rest of the oaty mixture over the top, pressing down lightly (just enough that it sticks, but you are now aiming for a crumble topping sort of texture, not biscuit).

Bake 30 minutes or until browned.  Cool in pan before cutting.  This will cut messily, so be warned!



This is easily veganised/rendered dairy-free by using dairy-free margarine instead of butter.  Simple!  Gluten-free might be a little harder.  If you are gluten-free but OK with oats (I gather a fair proportion of people with celiac fall into this category), then I think you could use 1 1/2 cup of your gluten-free flour or flour mix of choice, with 3 tsp baking powder.  Quinoa flour would, I think, work rather nicely here.  If you can’t manage oats either, perhaps you could substitute in almond meal?  Though, in all honesty, if gluten and oats are both out, this might not be your recipe.

Also, I must confess that when I first made this recipe I completely mis-read the amounts of the oats, flour and coconut, and so I have absolutely no idea what proportions I ended up with when I actually made this recipe.  On the bright side, this tells me that the recipe is very forgiving and you can probably do anything you like to it!  For example, I think it would be nice to add some almond meal into the mix, maybe even replacing some of the flour, or replacing the coconut.

Personally, I’d like to try this with apricot or plum jam.  But then, I like everything better with apricot or plum jam…

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5 comments for “Recipe: Old English Matrimonials for Melissa

  1. January 10, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Oh, I’m completely the same. It’s one of the reasons I stoped buying cookbooks; I was utterly incapable of actually doing what they said, and I can get the same “ideas” for new recipes from blogs as I could from cookbooks 😛 These sound yummy indeed! Perfect for work, which alas! I have to get back to tomorrow…

  2. Melissa
    January 19, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Ooh, thank you! I am so going to make this on the weekend. Along with the chocolate dacquoise which I promised my mother-in-law many years ago.

  3. Anita
    February 5, 2015 at 9:59 am

    I was given this recipe (just the list of ingredients) by my best friend in Australia. Back in the States I mixed it all together, but it just was not the same without the instructions. I am glad, you gave me the complete recipe. Thank you so much.

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