Oz words: Neenish tart

Can you grab me a few neenish tarts from the bakery?
By Kel Richards May 8, 2018 Reading Time: < 1 Print this page

A NEENISH TART is a mock cream-filled pastry iced in white and brown or pink and brown. Is it Australian? If so, where does the name come from? One well-known story from the Sydney Morning Herald in 1988 goes that a Mrs Evans claimed the tarts were first made in her NSW home town of Grong Grong: the originator was her mother’s friend Mrs Ruby Neenish, who in 1913, running out of cocoa, used half-chocolate and half-white icing to create the first neenish tarts. However, a 2016 article in the same newspaper claimed the story began as a joke. The earliest reference to neenish is for ‘neenish cakes’ and appears in a 1929 cookbook published at Glenferrie, Victoria. But the citizens of Orange, in NSW, claim the first true neenish tart recipe was in the Orange Recipe Gift Book – from where it was reproduced in many other cookbooks (especially by the Country Women’s Association). Those who think the alternative spelling of ‘nienish’ or ‘nienich’ was the original spelling claim this sweet treat was originally of Austrian or German origin. But I’ll stick with Mrs Ruby Neenish.