It is so satisfying for us, as part of the Monday Morning Cooking Club project, to find a recipe from many decades ago and enable its continued life.
When Zoli Romer’s daughter Susie got in touch with us, we were thrilled to hear her dad’s story and be able to recreate some of his treats. And the jam rings remind us all of our childhood.
Here is Susie’s beautiful story, as it appears in It’s Always About the Food :
My parents escaped from communist Budapest together with my adored grandmother in 1956 and headed for Adelaide, a relatively quiet city where my great uncle lived.
Though a multicultural city, Adelaide only had two continental cake shops at the time. My dad Zoli – who loved baking – got himself a bicycle and rode many kilometres into the city centre each day to work different shifts at Adelaide’s iconic Aussie cake shop, Balfours. As none of the locals could pronounce ‘Zoli’, he became known as John. After a couple of years, my parents took a huge risk and opened their own cake shop in the busy seaside suburb of Glenelg: the ‘Susie Cake Shop’.
Though the continental cakes were spectacular, the locals weren’t used to them, so Dad started to cater to the masses with cupcakes, lamingtons and other Aussie classics. The shop became a massive success. I still remember Dad having to go to Adelaide Airport to dispatch his cargo of ‘Susie Cheese Pockets’ to an interstate function. There was even a political party called ‘The Susie Cheesecake Party’, though their success didn’t equal Dad’s!
I became an object of curiosity at school amongst my peers, as not only was I from a European family, but my parents owned a cake shop. I was constantly asked: ‘Were you named after the shop, or the shop after you?’
Dad was the only pastry cook in Adelaide making challah, and even the locals loved to buy them. Every September he would start making his beigli to be ready for Yom Tov and would continue until Christmas time when they were still being collected by the boxful.
The shop was open seven days a week and my parents worked long hours. After a rare trip to the USA, Dad returned with great inspiration and developed a new yeast bun, named ‘American Beauty’. It became one of his best sellers and people travelled from all over Adelaide for this new delicacy. He was also renowned for his delicious jam ring biscuits, which still remain a favourite of mine today. Dad is now 98 and is more than happy to share his recipes with me and others who ask, as they often do.
Zoli passed away in 2018, and his legacy lives on.