Thursday, January 26, 2012

Daring Bakers - Back to Basics: Scones

There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head. `Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,' thought Alice; `only, as it's asleep, I suppose it doesn't mind.'

From Chapter VII, A Mad Tea Party, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I have now been a Daring Baker for 4 years - since January 2008.  My first Daring Bakers recipe was lemon meringue pie.  Every now and again, especially when I am time poor, I think about giving it up, but then a recipe surprises me and I keep on going. I look forward to the possibilities that this year will bring with the Daring Bakers, a group of thousands of bakers from all over the world who bake the same recipe once a month.

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

Scones are a tea time favourite in Australia, inherited from the British migrants to this country.  Traditionally, scones are served with jam and cream to make a Devonshire tea or a Cornish tea, depending on whether you put the jam or the cream on first (or so I have been told).  On my first trip to England in 2001,  I made sure that I had tea (in a pot, of course) with scones with jam and clotted cream in a small tea room in Kensington, London, somewhere close to Harrods.  It was fabulous, of course, and is a treasured memory of my trip.

Audax's recipe for scones was neither hard nor expensive, but I certainly learned a lot about scone making, despite having made scones since as far back as home economics in year eight at high school. I was pleasantly surprised by how high and fluffy the scones I made this month were:

I am scraping this in the day before it is due on the Australia Day holiday, so I haven't made any variations.  I just made Audax's basic recipe.  I froze the grated butter, I cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter, I  rested the dough for twenty minutes before cutting it, I used a cold cutter, I didn't twist the cutter when cutting out the scones, and I brushed the tops with milk before baking, and baked them in the hot oven recommended.  I am not sure which element it was, or whether it was all of them, but these were the highest, fluffiest scones that I have ever made.  I was very pleased!  The only downer was that I only got three scones out of the recipe - perhaps my cutter was too big?

In the Australian/English tradition, I served my scones with jam (blueberry on this case) and whipped cream, all gussied up in little soy sauce pots from a sushi set:


Thanks to Audax for proving that even when you think you know something, there is always more that can be learned about it.  Audax will publish the recipe on his site, if you would like to try it.  And check out the other Daring Bakers efforts at The Daring Kitchen.