Sometimes you try a food or a recipe for the first time and it just lets you down. Pretty badly, in fact. That was my relationship with scones – I’d tried one when I was quite young at a little tea house in Olinda, but I was thoroughly unimpressed with the tough, doughy and flavourless cake and contented myself with drawing little monsters on my plate with the jam and cream instead.
A few years ago, I was talking to a friend of mine who was waxing lyrical about the wonder of scones, and I thought that perhaps I’d just had a bum ride with the first interaction between scones and me, so I decided to roll up my sleeves and try giving them a shot. I pulled a recipe out of one of my fairly well trusted cookbooks and went at it, my excitement building as I watched them rise rise and rise in the oven, and I had my cream and jam ready to roll the moment they had cooled enough to be held. I held my breath, sliced one in half, layered on my spreads then closed my eyes as I went to take my first bite…
And then I tossed the entire batch in the bin.
And thus, my complete and utter disinterest in scones remained for a few years, till a few weeks ago when I was speaking with my kid sister. She mentioned the fact that J, her boyfriend, absolutely adored scones. Well, as I adore baking things for J (watching him wolf down my baking makes little bluebirds sing happily in my head), I decided that I would try these mini cakes one more time. Perhaps the third time would be the charm? However, this time I decided to turn to my most trusted kitchen bible, ‘The Cooks Book‘.
(I’ve extolled the virtues of this cookbook many times before and I’m doing it again. Seriously, I am yet to have a recipe from this book fail me, and I love it more than words can say. Though written for people who are fairly new to cooking, it is a wonderful book that anybody would do well to keep it on their kitchen bench)
Now, by all reports, scones are meant to be quick and easy, so I was confused when I read through the instructions for these and saw that the making of was spread over three days. Buh? They’re SCONES, why on earth would you bother spreading the prep over three days for something that’s meant to be super simple. However, my faith in this book meant that despite my misgivings, I decided to follow instructions – and boy oh boy am I ever glad that I did!
These scones are everything I imagined a scone should be like – the outer crust is firm but the inside is beautifully soft, crumbly and moist, and spread with a little jam and cream, they make the perfect accompaniments to a cup of well-brewed tea.
While we’re here, I’ve also been tagged twice for the 8 Things meme that’s slowly been circulating around at the moment, so thanks to the divine Deborah of Taste & Tell and the most terrific Tara of Should You Eat That for passing the baton to me! 8 random facts, huh? I can do this…I think!
1. I was bitten on the face by a stray dog when I was about 2 years old. We were living in Korea at the time and I was being minded by the next door neighbour who had taken me to the little park around the corner from our apartment block to play on the playground equipment, when I apparently wandered off to chase the ‘cute doggy’. Luckily, it left no scars of a physical or mental kind and dogs still remain my favourite animals in the world!
2. I cannot stand the taste of beer. Even the smell of it makes my stomach churn, and when it has been used in cooking, I can usually taste even the smallest trace amounts, which then puts me off the meal. While at uni, when my fellow students were drowning themselves in pale ales, I was happily getting soused on vodka, tequila and wine instead (there was one very unhappy incident with a bottle of Jack Daniels, but I won’t elaborate on that one other than to say that I can no longer even look at amber alcohols without feeling ill).
3. I have 9 piercings in my ears (I used to have 11 but let two of them block up as I thought that over 10 was a bit much) and 4 tattoos. My last piece was a rather extensive black line design on my upper back (just under the nape of my neck) and it is my favourite of all four. I’m currently planning another, though am yet to decide what or where it will be.
4. I rarely cry. I may feel mopey and my eyes may feel a bit teary from time to time, but I’ll have a proper bawl no more than perhaps once or twice a year.
5. When it comes to my cooking, it is my kid brother’s opinion which I value most highly of all. He is one of the most cut and dry people I know, and if something is wrong he will have absolutely no qualms stating what he dislikes. If I get upset, then he just shrugs his shoulders and says “What? You asked me so I told you!”. Hehehe, what a kid 🙂
6. I watch very little television, purely because I am vehemently against all forms of ‘reality’ tv and I can never remember when the shows that I do enjoy watching are on.
7. Despite being a little hellraiser in my teens and early 20s, I am now about as boring and vanilla as can be. No more pot, very little booze, no clubbing and very rarely will I go out partying till the break of dawn. I much prefer having a sedate little dinner party followed by perhaps a few videos or board games to be enjoyed with something sweet and a pot of green tea.
I know that I’m meant to tag 8 other people, but I think that everyone has either done this or been tagged to do it, so I’m just going to leave this as an open invite! If you’re reading this and you haven’t done the meme, please consider this an invitation to take part 🙂 Even non-blogging readers, go ahead and do the meme in the comments, I’d love to find out about my mysterious, silent readers!
Scones with Raisins
(from The Cook’s Book – makes approx 10-12 scones)
115g white raisins/sultanas
1 cup black tea, cold
1 tbsp dark rum
270g plain white flour
90g strong plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
100g unsalted butter, softened
85g caster sugar
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon (or 1 tsp lemon juice)
2 small eggs, lightly beaten
1-2 tbsp double cream
Cream and jam, to serve
1. The day before, mix together the tea and rum and soak the white raisins/sultanas overnight.
2. Drain the raisins, then set them aside on a paper towel to soak up any external moisture. Sift together the flours and baking powder together three times, then set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and lemon zest till thick and creamy, then slowly add the egg while beating till well incorporated. Then slowly add the milk while beating, and stir the mixture till it is smooth and lump-free (don’t worry if it appears curdled, mine did and my scones still turned out beautifully!)
4. Add the sifted flour mix in stages, then knead lightly till it is smooth and elastic in texture. Mix in the soaked and dried raisins, then shape the dough into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight*.
5. The next day, roll out the scone dough onto a lightly floured surface till approximately 2cm thick**. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C.
6. Using a 5-6cm round cutter, stamp out circles and place them about 5cm apart on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Lightly beat the cream together with a pinch of salt and sugar, then use this to glaze the tops of each scone. Bake them in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or till well risen and golden on top.
7. Remove from the oven and set them onto a wire rack to cool a bit till just warm to the touch. Now, slice one in half, fill with your favourite jam and a big spoonful of freshly whipped cream and sit down and enjoy! 🙂
* – The raw dough can be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to a month, which means you can pre-cut these, freeze them and have them ready to go in your freezer whenever you want a scone or two!
** – In order to reuse the scraps, try rolling the dough out between two piece of baking paper or plastic wrap instead. It does mean you’ll be dealing with a sticker dough, but it also means you can roll the scraps together and reroll them without worrying about them being tougher than the original cut outs!
[tags]scones, small cakes, baking, recipes, the cooks book, raisins[/tags]