So, May. How did that happen?
This is most likely going to be my last post for a month or so. On a purely practical level, we’re moving in a couple of weeks and I’ve been told firmly and repeatedly that my normal technique of shoving my possessions in boxes and supermarket carrier bags as they are being loaded into a van is not going to cut it. We seem to have accumulated an awful lot of “stuff” in the last five or six years and most of my weekends are currently spent knee deep in bin bags and cardboard boxes rather than flour and butter, as I would prefer.
The more I’ve thought about it though, the more excited I am about having a month away from here. My only real aim for this blog has only ever been to ensure that every recipe I make, every sentence I write, every photograph I take is better than the last one and I don’t think I can honestly say that has been true recently.
I want to love it here again and be proud of what I do. The best way for me to do that is to take a step back, stop drafting blog posts in my head and actually just get on with my life for a few weeks. By the time June rolls around, I know I will be desperate to come back.
I’m leaving you with some scones inspired, as so many things have been recently, by our recent trip to California. I started most mornings with a “mini” (but really quite adequately sized) vanilla and espresso scone at one of our favourite coffee shops in Santa Monica. The sweetness of the vanilla was perfectly balanced by the bitterness of the coffee so that I didn’t feel like I was overindulging too early in the day but I definitely felt like I was on holiday.
Vanilla bean and espresso scones
Yield: Makes about 6 – 8 depending on size
As a note in the recipe, these scones are not particularly sweet as they only have a hint of maple syrup. I made a quick vanilla glaze with icing sugar, water and vanilla bean paste to drizzle on top of a couple and it made them feel a little bit more special which is sometimes what you need first thing in the morning. I bought my espresso powder in sur la table in the US. I’ve never seen it for sale here but instant espresso or a strong instant coffee would probably work but may not be quite as strong. I made those with 100% whole grain spelt flour which was more do to with the fact that I’ve just finished the bag of white spelt flour and don’t want to buy another before we move than anything else.
- 225g (2 cups) whole grain spelt flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 45g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 120g (1/2 cup) plain yoghurt
- 1/4 cup milk
- 20ml (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
- A little more milk to brush on top before baking
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a baking tray with a non-stick surface.
Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and espresso powder into a large bowl. Add the butter and use your fingers to rub it into the flour quickly. You can stop rubbing when it is in pea-sized lumps.
In a separate bowl or, even better, a jug, lightly mix together the yoghurt, milk, maple syrup and vanilla.
Pour the liquid into your dry ingredients and bring together with a fork until you have a rough dough. You might need to use your hands to just bring it all together at the end. If it seems a little dry, you can add a splash of milk.
Gather the dough together and squash it down with your hands (I don’t bother with a rolling pin). I use a fluted cutter to cut out my scones but you can use whatever you like or just shape the individual scones by hand. The secret is not to overwork the dough or twist the cutter too much as you use it as it may stop the scones from rising properly.
Brush with a little milk and then bake for 20 minutes or so until risen and golden.
If you want, you can make a glaze for the scones with a little icing sugar, hot water and vanilla. It’s a nice touch, especially if you prefer your scones on the sweeter side.