As I type right now, I look up occasionally and see the heavy raindrops pitter-pattering outside the doors leading to the garden. It’s a strange sort of rain – heavy, but not a proper downpour, and the sky has that weird quality of being almost overcast, but not quite. The sun’s managed to peek through a little so overall there’s a rather dreamy feel to it.
I’ll stop rambling on about the weather now, even though it was what originally inspired me to write this post. The past month or so has been filled with mostly glorious (read: sunny) weather, although I do draw the line at 30°C heat in a country that’s built around a climate that doesn’t usually stray over 20°C.
However, the upside of all that heat was lots of flower photos…
Just thought I’d mention that those purple flowers are from the gardens in Wollaton Hall, Nottingham, the building that doubled up as Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises. There’s a gorgeous park surrounding the actual building and I used to run there and around the lake when I studied in Nottingham (before Hollywood made it famous). If you’re lucky, you even see deer roaming the grounds.
On a very different note: scones. I made two batches over the weekend and thought I’d share the joy. The recipe is from the ever-faithful BBC GoodFood, which I followed almost exactly, most changes I made were due to ingredient/equipment substitution.
Also, as I do not have a scone or cookie cutter, I used a knife to cut the round shapes. I usually just cut square scones, but these were for an American friend who’d never eaten an English scone before, so I wanted them to look as traditional as possible.
Makes about 6 to 9 scones.
recipe from BBC GoodFood
225 g self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
50 g butter, slightly chilled, cut in small pieces
25 g golden castor sugar (I used 20 g white, granulated sugar)
125 ml buttermilk
4 tablespoons full-fat milk
Extra flour for dusting
Jam and clotted cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 220°C/gas 7/fan 200°C.
Lightly butter a baking sheet (I also lightly dusted with flour after I buttered the sheet).
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.
Add the chilled butter and rub the flour into the butter with your fingers till the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Don’t worry if a few small lumps of butter remain – the key is to not over-rub the mixture.
Stir in the sugar.
Add the milk to the buttermilk in a separate container.
Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add most of the buttermilk mix, holding some back in case it’s not needed. Using a round-bladed knife or spatula, gently work the flour and buttermilk mixes together until a soft, almost sticky dough has formed. Add the rest of the buttermilk mix if necessary. Don’t overwork the dough as it will become too tough.
Move the soft dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead it a few times to get rid of the cracks.
Pat the dough down gently to a thickness between 2 and 2.5 cm.
Dip a 5.5cm fluted cutter into some flour (stops sticking) and cut out the dough, by pushing firmly and quickly, do not twist. Gather the trimmings, lightly pat and cut out more scones.
(If you do not have a cutter and you don’t mind square scones, use a flour-dipped knife and cut out squares.)
Place on the prepared baking sheet. Dust with flour or glaze (with remnants of buttermilk mix) if desired.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until risen and golden.
Cool on a wire rack (if you’re greedy like me, dig in as soon as you can pick them up).
Serve with clotted cream and jam (traditionally, strawberry jam is the choice but I prefer cherry conserve, when I can find a good one).
The American friend was in raptures over the scones. There was talk of a new religion at one point. I think I did well.