I am in the second week of my new job and I am rediscovering the art the packed lunch! The centre where I work appears superficially 'in the middle of nowhere'. Actually that is an exaggeration – I just do not have the luxury of popping out to the high street for a meal deal. So I have been batch cooking chicken and fish dishes and taking them into work in my every growing supply of tuppaware. I have also been looking for recipes for sweet things to eat – my eleven o'clock and four o'clock snacks (essential to stave off the munchies). Last week I made some more peanut butter cookies, this week I felt a strong desire to make some scones. I think I had this fanciful desire to consume strawberry jam and clotted cream with these baked wonders. I also, I think wanted to try my hand, literally at 'rubbing in' method because it meant I could use my butter cold. Yes. Sometimes I can be more than a little strange…
Anyhow, I found a suitable recipe, modified it and voila! A batch of scones produced in under an hour. I made 20 on Sunday night and as I lie here on Tuesday night, there are 4 left. I have never frozen scones before, I put two batches in the freezer on Sunday night. This morning I took out one container of six and by the time I came home from work I found that my husband had eaten them all for breakfast. They are actually rather tasty. I too had a few for breakfast with a smidgen of butter. There is something about homemade scones that takes me back to a sacred space and place in my childhood. Exquisite happiness and contentment that I do not feel I will ever experience again in my life.
350g wholemeal self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
85g butter, cut into cubes
3 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
squeeze lemon juice
beaten egg, to glaze
1. Heat oven to 220C. Tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix. Add the butter, then rub in with your fingers until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.
2. Put the milk into a jug and heat in the microwave. for about 30 secs until warm, but not hot. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, then set aside for a moment. Put a baking sheet in the oven.
3. Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and combine it quickly with a cutlery knife – it will seem pretty wet at first. Scatter some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother. Pat into a round about 4cm deep.
4. Take a 5cm cutter (smooth-edged cutters tend to cut more cleanly, giving a better rise) and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four scones. You may need to press what’s left of the dough back into a round to cut out another four.
5. Brush the tops with beaten egg, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.
6. Bake for 10 mins until risen and golden on the top. Eat just warm or cold on the day of baking, generously topped with jam and butter. If freezing, freeze once cool. Defrost, then put in a low oven (about 160C) for a few mins to refresh.