Yes, I know it’s a dreadful pun but I love saying that! And don’t get me started on jokes about bean soup….
So, at weekends, I often walk around London: heading down to the river, going to street markets, open air events or whatever this busy city has to offer. Not one for taking exercise for it’s own sake or even for the good it allegedly does me I am fond of a reward for the effort. That reward often comes in the form of a sweet treat, I’m lucky not to have a very sweet tooth but there are occasions when only something sugary will do.
One such occasion occurred last weekend when I was wandering down Columbia Road in desperate search of a cake shop. The wonderful Lily Vanilli is closed on Saturdays and there was nothing around of sufficient delight to tempt me. When eating cake it must be good cake, why waste the calories on a slice of dry Swiss roll? Then the rain started. Columbia Road is an awkward walk from my home, shortish but no direct public transport and as I’d washed and carefully dried my hair I hailed a passing cab and rode home in it.
Still no cake, so I made some scones. Scones are quick to make, indeed the less you fuss about rolling them out, the lighter the finished scone will be. I use a food processor to make the dough, mixing the butter into the flour with short burst of power then adding yogurt or soured milk, the acidity improving the action of the baking powder. You can add raisins, orange zest, dried cranberries, cinnamon there is a pretty much endless list, or if you prefer omit the sugar and throw in about 50 gms finely grated, strong cheese, and a teaspoon of marmite topping the scones with a little extra cheese before baking.
Quick enough to make when unexpected guests arrive for tea the secret of making good scones is to have the oven hot, handle the mixture as little as possible and get the scones into the oven as quickly as you can once the liquid has been added to the dry mix.
225gm/ 8 oz plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
55gm/2 oz butter
¼ pint milk
Heat the oven to 200C/400F gas 6.
Sift the flour into a bowl along with the baking powder and salt plus any dry ingredients from the chosen flavouring. Rub in the butter and then add the milk and fruit ,cheese etc. Mix to a firm but rather wet dough and turn onto a floured board. Quickly pat into a circle and cut out the scones, I use a knife and cut squares. Place on a baking sheet and brush the tops with milk.
Put into the hot oven and bake for 10 -15 minutes. Serve split and buttered.
If you do go to Columbia Road on a Sunday Lily Vanilli’s bakery is not to be missed.