It may be cold and blustery outside, but I’m noticing signs of spring here, with snowdrops and even daffodils emerging. This combined with the fast approaching, St David’s Day on 1 March put me in mind of Wales’ national bake, Welsh cakes. My wholemeal spelt Welsh cakes are super easy to make. They’re crisp on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside and incredibly moreish. This wonder food from the west is the perfect antidote to the Beast from the East.
CT recently returned from a trip to York. Whilst there he popped into Bettys Tea Rooms for a cuppa and a curd tart. Fat rascals are a classic Yorkshire bake and one that I very much associate with Bettys. I’ve never actually tried one, so in order not to feel left out, I decided to have a go at making some.
Since finally getting around to making wild garlic pesto this year, I can’t get enough of it. I’ve made three big batches and apart from some I’ve frozen, I’ve pretty much used it all up. One of the things I’d had in my mind’s eye was scones with a swirl of green running through them; when I made my first batch of pesto I lost no time in making these swirly wild garlic cheese scones with it.
I’ve borrowed another inspiring book out of the library recently. The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak. It is so up my street, I want to make pretty much everything in it. I may just have to splash out and buy it. The recipes all look and sound as though you want to dive straight in, but they mostly have a healthy twist of some kind.
It’s International Scone Week over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Now in it’s fifth year, I’m quite shocked to find that I haven’t participated since 2012. If you ever need a scone recipe, Celia’s annual round-ups of all sorts of scones from bloggers around the world is a must.
It’s that time of year again! Yes, it’s International Scone Week over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial – only it seems to have morphed into International Scone Fortnight this year! Actually, it looks like I’ve missed the boat and the round-up is already posted. Do check it out as there are a number of very different and delicious scones to admire.
I’ve always had a bit of trouble with scones, but last year’s International Scone Week, galvanised me into action and I decided I was going to get to grips with making light and delicious scones once and for all. The resulting chocolate scones were perhaps not the lightest ever, but they were still at the upper end of the scale of good and tasted delicious.
Having just made curd tarts, I had rather a lot of whey left over, so the obvious thing to do with it was to make scones. I made these fabulous white chocolate scones earlier in the year so I used similar quantities, only this time without butter and whey rather than sour milk. I crossed my fingers that they worked out OK.
This is what I did:
- Finely grated 2oz white chocolate (G&B)
- Sieved 8oz flour (2oz wholemeal, 6oz white) into a bowl with 1 tsp cream of tarter and 1/2 tsp of bicarb of soda.
- Added the chocolate and gave a good stir.
- Made a well in the centre and added 1/4 pt of whey.
- Stirred until all incorporated.
- Brought mixture together with my hands handling it as little as possible.
- Rolled it out to about 3/4 ” and cut into 9 rounds.
- placed on a lined baking sheet and brushed with whey.
- Baked at 185C for 15 minutes.
After the success I had with substituting white chocolate for lard in Dan’s tea cakes, I was keen to try something similar with scones. I don’t like my scones too sweet as the usual addition of jam or honey make them quite sweet enough. So, so my reasoning went like this: if I substitute white chocolate for some of the butter and add a little bit more for sweetness, then can I also omit the sugar?
This is what I did:
- Finely grated 1.5 oz white chocolate (G&B) using my brilliant chocolate grater.
- Put this into a large bowl.
- Added 8oz flour (2oz wholemeal, 6oz white), 1 tsp cream of tarter and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda and a large pinch of Himalayan pink salt.
- Rubbed 1oz unsalted butter into the flour mixture until all incorporated.
- Made a well in the centre and added 1/4 pt of sour milk.
- Gradually stirred in the flour using a knife until the mixture formed a ball of dough.
- Rolled this out on a floured board to what I thought at the time was 3/4 inch but was in fact more like 1/2 inch!
- Placed on a lined baking tray & baked on the top shelf of the oven at 190C for 13 minutes.
The scones were light, just the right side of sweet and tasted delicious with a slight flavour of vanilla and white chocolate. They were soft on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside and were just as good on day two as on day one. I shall definitely be making these again. Topped with jam and cream and a nice pot of tea, they really hit the spot mid-afternoon. Although, actually, they were also rather good with passionfruit curd – more on that later.
With October this year designated as Breast Cancer Awareness month, it seems fitting to review The Little Book of Treats sold in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. The book was produced specifically for the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning which was held back in September, but on-going support for this vital cause is always welcome – see the website for details. It’s on sale in M&S Cafes for £3.
The booklet I was sent to review consists of 31 baking recipes which would work well for coffee mornings, school fetes and other fund raisers. There are recipes to suit the novice baker as well as some more challenging ones. Recipes have been chosen by keen home bakers as well as a number of celebrities and include: Sophie Dahl’s lemon capri torte, rhubarb crumble muffins, beetroot and chocolate brownies and pancakes from Gwyneth Paltrow. There are several I have my eye on.
I’ve been wanting to make Welsh Cakes for an age now, so looking through the book, I was delighted to come across a recipe from Sue Topley of Gillingham, Dorset. You’d think Welsh Cakes would be really simple, I certainly thought they would be, but I managed to mess them up good and proper – sigh!
This is what I did:
- Rubbed 125g unsalted butter into 250g flour (1/2 spelt, 1/2 white), 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda, 1 tsp cream of tarter and 1/4 tsp salt until the butter had all but disappeared.
- Stirred in 80g cardamom sugar, 75g currants and 50g of chopped dark chocolate (81%).
- Made a well in the centre, dropped in 1 medium egg and stirred.
- Bought the mixture together with my hands into a ball and rolled out on a floured surface to 1.5 cm deep.
- Used one of my new cutters to make 16 rounds.
- All had gone completely fine up to this point, but I hadn’t bargained on the chocolate factor – d’oh!
- Heated a heavy bottomed frying pan on medium heat and added a small splash of sunflower oil to avoid sticking.
- Placed 7 rounds in the pan (whilst I carried on cutting out the others).
- In no time at all, they had burned black – why??? I’m still not entirely sure, because although some of the chocolate melted and burned, the pan wasn’t super hot and there wasn’t that much chocolate oozing out.
- Hey ho, I put the oven on to warm at 200C and baked the remainder for 10 minutes. Placed on a wire rack to cool and sprinkled some caster sugar over the tops.
Welsh Cakes, but not as any self respecting Welsh person would know them! The ultimate insult following the defeat in the Rugby World Cup. Although the insides of the first batch were fine, the burnt outsides ruined them somewhat and I was so looking forward to scoffing hot Welsh Cakes straight from the pan. Those in the oven were fine, but didn’t look like or have the right texture to be anything like authentic. The overall effect of adding the chocolate was really good though and it offset the sweetness nicely. Just as many Welsh households underwent a period of heart searching following the defeat, I’ve been wondering why I failed so spectacularly. Could it be the pan or was it the chocolate?
Back in January, I made my first foray into the world of chocolate and scones with these very tasty chocolate chip scones. Subsequently this lovely recipe, originally for Black Forest Scones, was sent to me by Jane Maile. Jane used to run a tearoom in the Cotswolds and these were one of the treats she regularly baked for her customers. In her own words:
Well it took me a while, but I did eventually get around to making them and coincidentally just in time for Celia’s International Scone Week.
I didn’t exactly follow the recipe and used watered down yogurt rather than milk and lemon juice. But the saddest omission was failing to use cherry jam to top the scones, I didn’t have any to hand, so Black Forest would have been a misnomer.
This is how I made them:
- Put 8oz flour (half spelt, half white), 1.5 oz cocoa powder, 1.5 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt into a large bowl.
- Added 2oz unsalted butter and cut this into pieces with a knife.
- Rubbed the butter into the flour until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
- Stirred in 3oz vanilla (granulated) sugar.
- Broke a duck egg into a measuring jug and topped up to 1/4 pt with a mixture of half yogurt / half water.
- Stirred into the dry ingredients then brought the mixture together with my hands.
- Rolled out on a floured surface to 3/4″ thick and cut into eight 2″ rounds.
- Placed onto a lined baking tin, brushed the tops with milk and baked for 20 minutes at 190C.
When I saw the scone baking challenge on Bakelady’s Blog, I thought it sounded fun, but not really something I could participate in (it’s running until the end of January, so there’s still time to join in). Second thoughts were, why not make scones using chocolate? Well why not indeed? My success with scones has been limited and I think that’s partly because I have always insisted on using wholemeal flour; this seems to results in a rather heavy scone. However, when I tried using half wholemeal and half white along with yogurt in some cheese scones recently, I was forced to revise my opinion: I can make good scones. I used the classic scone recipe as a base, ie 8oz flour, 2oz butter and 1/4 pt milk and then adapted it.
This is what I did:
- Rubbed 2oz unsalted butter into 4oz wholemeal flour, 4oz white flour, 1 tsp cream of tarter, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1/4 tsp rock salt until incorporated.
- Stirred in 40g chopped Maya gold – I thought the orange and spicy flavours in this chocolate would be pleasantly distinctive.
- Placed 2 tbsp TOTAL Greek yogurt into a measuring jug and made this up to 1/4 pt with milk.
- Poured this into the flour and then added most of a beaten egg (leaving enough to glaze the scone tops).
- Mixed this together then formed into a dough.
- Rolled out to 3/4 in thick and used a cutter to make 8 scones, reforming the dough as necessary.
- Brushed with the remaining beaten egg and baked at 200C for 11 minutes.
Much to my relief, these were another success: delicious, moist and light with the Maya Gold making a more than acceptable substitute for the sultanas that grace some scones. That Greek yogurt worked its magic once again. I didn’t want anything other than clotted cream on my scones as I thought they would be sweet enough; and for me they were. But if I’d had any lemon curd to hand, that would have brought out the citrus flavour of the chocolate even more. You will find the round up of scone recipes here.