Saturday, 15 November 2014

Scones and Fireworks

Ten days ago we celebrated Guy Fawkes Night. Fireworks and bonfires throughout cities in the UK marked the failure of a plot to assassinate the king four centuries ago. A terrorist by modern standards, today Guy Fawkes symbolises something of a hero – a man with honest intentions, thanks to fictional books and movies. It seems rather over the top that we still celebrate this one event, especially since it commemorates one’s failure, yet who knows what would’ve become of Britain had it been otherwise. Maybe it would’ve become catholic; maybe it would’ve been called France; maybe nothing of the sorts would have happened.

Regardless, the yearly firework displays can be taken out of context and enjoyed purely for their aesthetic qualities. Like I do. Almost every year I climb impatiently somewhere up high, be it Arthur’s seat next door or the 13th floor of David Hume Tower, and go into raptures over the colours that light the skies. Frankly, my positions haven’t always been the most successful as I would either stare in dirty windows or have the direction of the fireworks completely wrong. 

This year though some planning helped us position ourselves right where the spectacle was. And while I observed the dancing sky fires I thought of the first time I witnessed the event fire years ago. It is not so much the fireworks that my mind went back to but the buckets of scones my friend A and I were given by a local café upon our return home.

It was the first (and last) time I had tried scones. It was a fine example how quantity does not trump quality. The scones were extremely dry (as they have probably been leftovers for days) and just as tasteless. Yet as frugal as I was (am?), we froze them and used them for the bases of many deserts to come. I have never been tempted to give them another go until this Bonfire Night. And as they practically need only eggs, flour, and double cream – Scone Night it was!

I used Beth’s recipe for basic raisin scones. It calls for:
2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
10 tbsp unsalted butter, very cold and diced into small cubes
½ cup of heavy cream
1 tbsp vanilla
2 eggs
¼ cup black raisins and ¼ cup golden raisins

She has a full description of the preparation method in her video and in the doodly-do below. I did several things different to her, thought.

First, I did not rub the butter into the flour as I don’t like to be that intimate with the food prior consumption. The feeling is great but the idea turns me off. Instead I used food processor, which not only does it faster and better but it also does not melt the butter as your hands would.

Second, I would recommend that you roll your dough once it is chilled to more than ½ inch thickness. I did it this way and my scones were a bit on the thin side.

Third, I simply did not have room in my fridge for the cut scones. Maybe this influenced their height but there was no way to have it otherwise. That’s why I worked as fast as possible before I put them in a preheated oven so the butter would not melt.

And the result surpassed anything I expected. They were soft and crumbly with a deliciously subtle sweet taste accompanied by buttery flavour. I was happy to have them on their own or to butter them with clotted cream and strawberry jam. They were truly amazing. And next year I will be sure to have buckets of them ready when I come home from Bonfire Night. 


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