I was watching Nigella Lawson work her easy-kitchen magic on telly about two weeks ago, and there she was, waxing lyrical about the scones that she was about to make. She promised that the scones take only 15 minutes to materialise, and I was almost convinced that I should make them sometime soon.
You see, I am one who needs to be inspired to make something. Without inspiration, my cakes turn out dry, my macarons look like pimply teenagers and I sulk for the rest of the day just because. Where does this inspiration come from, you might ask? Sometimes, I just want to make something pretty. Most of the times, I want to feed people I love with good things. Nothing gives me greater joy than seeing my family and friends enjoying what I made. Sad to say, we don’t get many opportunities to have people over all the time, and the only person I do really feed is my husband, M.
Since the feedback on my food is only about as varied as M’s fervent nods or halting ‘erms’, I am also inspired by practicality. Having learnt a lot more about baking and cooking over the past year, I have grown to love looking into my pantry and rummaging for stuff to make something delicious. The idea that I am making full use of whatever’s left in the kitchen and the idea that it could turn out to be something out-of-this-world excites me. Yes, I am a miserly food geek.
For the scones this time, I’m inspired by everything. Nigella Lawson made the baking look effortless. I had shortening that I bought for making mooncakes a while ago (and I couldn’t find any recipe else to use it in…). I also had one egg left, a little bit of butter much neglected in the fridge, lots of flour and milk just dying to be used before it expires. M loves a good scone. My sister-in-law was also chatting to me about how much her boyfriend misses scones. It was the perfect time to whip up some for an English tea-esque lunch to test Nigella’s recipe.
The recipe turned out to be beautifully easy. I put everything together very quickly with minimal effort, and the scones were ready to be devoured in all of 15 minutes, just as Nigella had promised. The scones were golden, nicely risen, slightly crusty on the outside and fluffy and tender on the inside. We slathered the warm innards with butter and golden syrup or jam (we didn’t have clotted cream). It was divine! It costs nothing more than 50 pence to make six of these babies, so why in the world would I pay £5-20 for an English tea session outside the comforts of my own home? I say, make your own, save some money and have them warm and fresh, something that you can’t quite get when you’re out.
Here’s the recipe.
(adapted from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson)
165g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1/3 teaspoon salt
2/3 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
8g vegetable shortening, cold and diced (I used Trex)
17g butter, cold and diced
1 egg, beaten
1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Line baking tray with parchment.
2. Sift flour, salt, bicarbonate and cream of tartar together.
3. Rub in shortening and butter into dry mixture.
4. Add milk and mix briefly for the dough to just come together as a sticky mass.
5. Add a dusting of flour to a work surface, and knead dough very gently till the dough just about stops being sticky (the dusting of flour will help reduce the stickiness).
6. Roll out to 2.5 cm thick and cut out with a 5.8cm cutter (mine has a crinkle edge and the 5.8cm refers to the round cutter that is found on the other side of the same mould). Brush with egg wash. You should get 6 scones out of this.
7. Plonk the dough pieces on the tray and bake for 9 minutes until golden and nicely risen.