Baking in lock down, a welcome distraction…

I am not a domestic goddess. I have spent a large part of my life taking the handy way out of providing food for my family. I can cook and do a delicious Sunday roast, but I would never attempt to compete on Masterchef. Anyway, I like to do my bit to keep unemployment down and eat out when I can.

My neighbour, on the other hand, is very much into home cooking, and baking in particular. I nicknamed her the Scone Fairy as many years ago when I was having a very tough time in my life. I would arrive home from a long day in school, facing an even longer night at home, and there would be a little bag of scones hanging on my door knocker. It always made me smile because it meant she was thinking of me and had left me something to cheer me up. It worked. I am pretty good at pastry and my rhubarb, and apple and blackberry tarts are always in demand on family occasions. My husband has been heard to complain when friends arrived on a Sunday, and I had just baked a tart and they scoffed the lot. Scones, however, were not something I had ever attempted, probably because of hazy memories of disasters in Domestic Science (as it was then) in school, rock buns I seem to recall!!

Then came the pandemic, I knew that we were heading for lockdown and homemade bread could be a necessity, so I stocked up on flour and buttermilk and started looking up recipes.  I tried a recipe for scones from a cookery book, and while they were alright, I knew something was missing so I messaged the Scone Fairy for help. I could have given her a heart attack! She very kindly passed on her recipe,which had probably been handed down from her mother, and I started baking. The first batch were good, but not up to the standard I wanted and I persevered.

I found myself really enjoying it, each mixture produces about 18 scones, far too many for two people, so I became a Scone Fairy and started giving them away. My Aunt is 87 and lives alone so once a week I take her out a supply for the freezer and chat to her through the patio door. It cheers her up and it cheers me up too. I have several divorced or widowed friends living alone nearby and I left a few for each on their door knocker and they loved it. I now make wheaten and soda bread with sultanas in it and both have proved to be hits, though the aunt thinks my sisters wheaten is better than mine!! I have discovered that baking is as good as a therapy session with a good psychologist. I work away at my own pace, the radio burbling away in the background and I am “going back to find a simpler place and time,” as the song says. Inner peace and an end product. What’s not to like?

You too could become a Scone Fairy (or Elf, for you macho guys) and for very little money, and a bit of time, of which there is no shortage right now, and make someone’s day.

 Scone Fairy Recipe

  •   1lb/450g of Soda bread flour
  •   2ozs/570g of caster sugar
  •   1oz/285g of butter rubbed into the flour and sugar
  •   Roughly 1/2 a pint of buttermilk with a medium egg beaten into it.

Add the liquid until all the dry ingredients are combined and turn out unto a well-floured board, shape with your hands into a circle and flatten down to about 3/4 of an inch. If you have no cutter a small glass will do. You may have to add more flour if the mixture is too wet, if it is too wet they may not rise properly.

Put in the oven a  200 c and bake for 12 to 13 minutes. Every oven is different.

You can of course add your own touch, cherries, or sultanas are great.

Then take them out of the oven, allow to cool, make your coffee, spread with real

butter and strawberry jam, enjoy and don’t forget your friends!

Photo by jamstraightuk is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

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