Thursday, May 8, 2008

Scones and Scons

Scones with cream, Dalfour's raspberry and pomegranates preserves and fresh strawberries. So so good...

As head of the cabin crew for Cathay Pacific flights, my friend Yolanda gets to go everywhere in the world and I often get something special from her trips. She's given me mangoes from India, superfine choc from France (and Cathay, but don't let them know!), delicious meatfloss rice crackers from Thailand, little cakes from Japan, tea from China, pure maple syrup and blueberry preserves from Canada, mooncakes from Hong Kong, mushrooms from Australia, vanilla pods from South Africa and other edible wonders from around the world. Apart from food, I've also received a nice platter from Australia, Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries (don't tell Cathay!), designer cosmetic bags and cosmetic samples. But of all the things she's given me, I remember this the most: a bunch of mauve-pink (my favorite color) tulips hand-carried all the way from Holland. Coincidentally, that was around the time my youngest bro was getting married, so I had the tulips kept by the florist for the special day but unfortunately they didn't last that long. It remains as the most special bouquet of flowers I have ever received, alongwith the long-stemmed red roses in a box that someone FTD'ed to me on my 19th birthday in the freezing Winnipeg winter. Of course, Hub's one red rose a day everyday for a month after I accepted his marriage proposal also made it to my list of most memorable flowers received. :))

So what's my point? Ah, yes. Yolanda just gave me a punnet of strawberries and a butternut squash she hand-carried back from LA, and romaine lettuce from London brought in by her friend! I know it sounds crazy, because we do get strawberries (imported and expensive), butternut squash (imported and expensive) and romaine lettuce (locally grown) here but she doesn't know because she's not in KK most of the time. Plus, only people like us who love to bring back fruits and food from overseas will understand that thrill. I've brought dragonfruits back from Singapore (before they started growing them here), straw mushrooms from HK and bean pastes from China, so there. I also used to smuggle plants in. I stopped doing that after I was caught bringing in a plant from Singapore and when Customs said the plant will be destroyed, I felt so bad for the plant. Like I said, only people like me will understand.

Where was I again? Oh yes, the strawberries. So okay, I decided to make scones to go with the berries, and let me tell you, I'm bad at making scones. A few years ago I invited 2 friends over for tea and served these huge saucer-sized scones that were so solid they could pass for rocks. My gracious guests very politely ate all I put on their plates, and the next day one of them told me that she couldn't eat dinner the night after our tea. No wonder. Between the three of us, we ate three scones made from 1/2 kg flour, that's how big and heavy my scones/stones were!


Miss Marples' scones are like cakes (upper left).

Not counting the scones I've eaten at hotel breakfasts, the first time I ate a 'real' scone was at the award-winning Gloucester Ridge Winery in Margaret River, Western Australia, 6 years ago. You know how, when you eat something for the first time, you'll always use that to measure all future tastes of that thing. I have not had a scone as good as that since. In Melbourne, people will tell you not to miss Miss Marples' scones in the Dandenong Mts. Both my daughter and I were disappointed with Miss Marples' famous scones. Although very soft (which is the most important thing about scones for me, the second important thing being the height: I love to see my scones rise, the higher the better!), the texture was cake-like (to us, that's cake, not scone) and they were baked in a whole piece and cut into smaller pieces. Still, they tasted pretty good but somehow very commercial too. Back to that scone in Margaret River. It was as big as a saucer, so now you know why I made scones that size. Anything smaller was inferior and unauthentic to me. Well, after my rock-scones, I have humbly reduced my scone size to about 2"/5 cm diameter. Btw, the Americans make something similar, strawberry shortcake, and I will always remember my first taste of that, more than 20 years ago, in a lovely town called Langley on Whidbey Island, off Seattle. I was visiting my Aunt Lucia, and she made strawberry shortcake for dessert. Simply delicious!

I think the secret to making good scones is not in the recipe, because I've tried so many given by friends, but rather in the making of them. This is a scone recipe from my friend Elaine, who's from Sydney, Australia. She makes the best, softest scones of anyone I know and although she has given me a lesson on scone-making, I have never gotten my scones as soft and fluffy as her. And she even pronounces them correctly which makes me stutter and mumble whenever I say "scones" (as in "own") because she'll go, "Oh, scons!" (as in "on") and I hope it's one of those tomato-tomato thing, not the salmon mispronounciation that everybody makes here (I get corrected for saying "seh-men" because the waiter will go always go, "Ah, sell-men!" and when he goes away I'd indignantly tell my kids, "Don't listen to him, don't pronounce the 'l'!").

One of these days when I'm in London, I will walk into Claridges and eat their scones with clotted cream. Until then, if any of you have a great scone recipe or tips on making scones, please do tell me.

I love it when my scones rise mile-high. Those horizontal lines, like stretch marks, mean these scones rose quite a bit.

Basic Scones
2 cups plain flour*
1 t bicarb of soda
2 t cream of tartar (or use 1 t + 1 t baking powder)
40 g butter, semi-soft
2 T fine sugar
150 ml fresh milk

*or use self-raising flour and omit the raising powders, which I prefer because I find that the smell of the bicarb is quite strong if I eat the scones plain.

1. Heat oven to 220 C.

2. Sift the flour with the bicarb of soda and baking powder into a bowl. Add the butter and, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until crumbly. Add the sugar, make a well, add the milk and lightly mix into a dough quickly (do not over knead).

3. Dust the work surface, roll the dough out until 1"/2.5 cm thick, use a 2"/5 cm cutter and cut into rounds.

4. Grease and flour a tray, add flour on top of scones and bake 10 minutes. Do not let the scones brown. Slice each scone in half horizontally and serve with whipped dairy cream (clotted cream if you have) and a good jam/preserves.

p.s.I'm thinking of a reader from the USA who used to drop me comments and unfortunately I don't have her blog add. It was teas and scones, something like that, but I can't get through to that website.

pps: Do you know where you can get fine porcelain for 1/5 to 1/10 of the price you pay in fancy stores? Panyi, Guangzhou, China that's where I got the cup and saucer in the pic for about RM20 to 25/US$6 to 8 (can't remember exact price). A lot of the fine porcelain (yes, all those big names) actually get their cups made in China and stamped back home. Not surprising about the high quality, after all, china/porcelain was first made in China.
final p.s: Thanks Yoland!


Mandy said...

your hubs is so lo-men-tik! one rose per day for a month! My man used ferraro rochers + roses to propose and I have chocolate for months! About scone making, wanted to drop you an email, but can't find it on your blog! What's your email add?

Denise ^ ChiCkyEGG said...

ur Salmon reminds me of Aisle ! I used to pronounce it with the "S" !
ahahaha, not until fren said it's i^L

tell u, i never had an authentic scones b4, i always had stone-hard scone tt cld throw at DOG !

Shan said...

I know exactly what you mean Terri. When you have something really amazingly good, and you know that you're probably not going to have it again for a long time or ever again, you try to hang on to the memory of it and your brain will automatically use it as a benchmark against other similar dishes.

Amazing how food can trigger so many emotions and memories. I've always liked that aspect to food.

triShie said...

i. WAAAAAAANNNNN!!!!!! got tip on how to 'bake' them in microwaves??

Imbi & Itchy said...

Hi, you've got a very interesting blog here and I was literarily hooked reading through almost all of your post. The scones looked really tempting, and like everything else, its personal taste I guess. I've eaten all sorts of scones in England, from soft to medium and its all really good to me! Me and my friend Lillian used to make batches, something she learned from her MIL, and its really simple. I'll try and post it up one day. No need baking powder whatsoever. Very straighforward.

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri, I think your photos are beautiful! May I know what camera you use? Love reading your blog daily!

Jackson said...

these are beautiful...

Agnes said...

Hello there I love reading your blog. Love the pictures of the scones topped with the dainty strawberries.

Found out about you blog from my cousin and its really good to see you introducing the restaurants around KK. I hardly went venturing in other restaurants and always stick to the old ones!

Keep it up and I was surprised to know you are my ex classmate Mona's relative :D

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

mandy: but ur hub beat mine :( i feel short-changed bc i didn't get any chocs...
my email is i'm having some prob sending mail out but ok receiving mail. would love to hear frm u, mandy!

denise: "ais le"?? i want to smack u for tt! ok, i will make u some scones, just tell me when.

shan: :) great mouths eat/think alike. i've always longed for a certain taste i've tasted as a child when my mom's best friend's hub was the manager of the msian-sing airline, MSA, n he used to bring home turkey sandwiches tt were heavenly. then last yr, i made a dressing n it tasted exactly of tt taste tt i've yearned for so long. it was a mayo-honey-dijon mustard dressing.these old tastebuds have a longer memory than the brains.

trishie: u won't believe this, but i abhor microwave ovens. my in-laws gave me one n it's still in my store.

imbi & itchy: hi, nice of u to visit! i've often seen ur comments on other blogs :) thanks, i've been to ur blog too n it has so many great recipes as well. n u r in Europe now, u lucky u! am waiting for ur scones post, make sure u do tt soon.

anony: thnak u...i use the Panasonic Lumix FZ50 which is not a DSLR. I love it n it has given me some good shots. for the scones pics, i didn't expect such good shots bc they were taken indoors around 5.30 pm. only thing is, it doesn't give very shallow depth of field (f2.8 only). but the price has dropped by 40% so if u aren't going for a DSLR, this is a great cam.

jackson: merci...

agnes: hi there, n thank u:) Mona Lim? she's my lovely niece! small huh kk. do keep in touch, i love feedback.

Tea4Me said...

I am glad your scones turned out. I plan to try your recipe. Try one of mine, terri and tell me what you think. I use my food processor (so often now I need a new one) and they come out quite well. Made some this a.m. but too flakey and fell apart too easily. Add some dried apricot chopped or dried cherries and 2 T orange juice. Really good! Good luck with those.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

tea4me: there u r! i was afraid i'd lost contact with u. i will def try ur scones recipes soon. will tell u how they turn out.

Big Boys Oven said...

clotted cream with scone plus strawberry compote . . . is heaven! I had it when I was down south of London! A must try!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...