A lot of people say that you’re either a cook or a baker. I am a cook. I’ve had a rather calamitous past with baking. With sauces and roasting and stewing, you can usually re-claim a disaster in the kitchen. Baking, sadly, is not so forgiving.
My ultimate goal is to bake like this girl. Sure, her cake isn’t perfect but look how happy she is!
My end results are the same as this happy girl, but I go through the whole process in a more heightened state of awareness, regularly crossing the line into sheer hysteria.
So, when I decide to attempt baking, I need to know that the recipe is FOOLPROOF. Cooking and baking are really all about confidence, so it’s important that your first attempt recipe is a reliable one.
I conquered my scone-fear this week by using Nessa Robins’ recipe for the straight-forwardly scrumptious plain scones, which I found on her lovely blog Nessa’s Family Kitchen. (http://nessasfamilykitchen.blogspot.com/)
The recipe worked out so well that I blazed forth in a flour-filled cloud of glory and attempted the more intricate and astoundingly gorgeous Spring Onion, Bacon and Cheese Scones from Delicious Magazine.
Once you master the basic recipe below, there’s no reason why you can’t add your own favourite flavour and texture combinations. Throw in a handful of your favourite seeds to get a crunchy scone, or go for the more unusual grated carrot and a tablespoon of ground cumin. The basic recipe is waiting to be experimented with. Just as soon as you’ve built up your baking confidence, of course.
What you need for Nessa Robins’ Scrumptious Scones (Makes 10-12 scones)
FYI: This recipe works perfectly when halved, in case you don’t want to make quite so many scones.
450g self-raising flour
Pinch of Salt (which I forgot but I guess my added parmesan compensated for that)
25g caster sugar
85g cold butter
1 large egg
For the glaze (which I forgot. See what I mean about a flustered baker?! I’m terrible!)
A bit of egg whisked with a little milk (I think milk works just as well on its own in case you don’t want to use another egg)
Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees C/ Gas Mark 6.
Start off by sieving your flour and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl. Cut your butter into smallish cubes.
If like me, you have hot hands that don’t make for baking, you can use a food processor to combine your flour and butter. If you have a more delicate paw than myself, then you can rub the butter into the flour until it’s all combined and you have a sort of crumb texture.
I find the food processor really, really useful here, because it takes like 1/8th of the time and you don’t have to worry about your butter melting which could lead to major drama and kitchen meltdown! And that’s not what we want.
Beat your egg into your milk.
Now (if using food processor) return your flour and butter mixture to your big mixing bowl. Make a sort of well with a wooden spoon and pour your milk and egg mixture into this space, mixing everything around with a wooden spoon until a rather wet and sticky dough is created. Don’t panic! It’s supposed to be a bit wet. It’s all going to be fine.
On a floured surface, plop out your dough and knead it, but not too much, as that will toughen the scones. You can sprinkle a little bit of flour over the dough if you think it needs to be less sticky, but it should be perfect once it’s had a nice massage.
Now you want to roll it out. I always use cling film when rolling any dough. I put it over the dough and then flatten the dough with a rolling pin – the cling film stops the dough from sticking to the pin. It’s very clever.
Roll out your pastry and using a little perforated cutter, cut out as many scones as you can. Now roll up the excess dough and cut out some more. Repeat until you ain’t got no dough left.
At this point, you can glaze your scones with your milky egg mixture.
Pop your scones on a buttered baking sheet, not over-crowding them, and bake in your oven for 10 to 12 minutes. My cutter was quite small so I ended up with around 15 little scones, which I baked in two batches
Take your scones out and let them cool slightly on a rack, but they’re pretty much ready to go and be enjoyed.
Best served warm!
Aoife Mc Elwain blogs about food at I Can Has Cook?