Thursday, 9 May 2013

Apple and cheese scones (Σκονς - Κεκάκια Βρετανιίας)

While in London, I ate home-baked scones for the first time in what seems like two decades, with clotted cream and home-made blackberry jam. My friend is a perfectionist cook who likes to stick absolutely to traditional recipes, which is perhaps why these scones had a perfect rise, tasted very good and made a lasting impression.

I recall learning how to make scones in 'manual training' classes at primary school. What was once an institution in New Zealand schools is now a relic of the past: the phrase 'manual training' does not exist. It has probably been renamed now, but I don't really know what it would be. Manual training originally started out as a way to introduce traditional sexist tasks to children:  
Intermediate school pupils and those in Forms 1 and 2 in primary schools received what was called Manual Training. Pupils had no choice about following the sexist role. Girls studied cooking and boys went to woodwork. Girls were taught sewing in their primary school classes, but all the sewing was done by hand.
In my time, girls also got a chance to try their hand at woodwork (we made pencil holders and toast racks!) while boys also took part in cooking lessons. But only the girls went to sewing classes, and the boys went back to woodwork (or metal work) during this time.
Not using butter in the house very often, I'm not really able to reproduce this perfect little cake. Never mind that our cakes tend to be sweeter than the scone, which is sweetened by jam. Initially I wanted to make them just like the ones my friend had baked for us, but my creative side got the better of me. I had some green apples in the house which were starting to go a teensy bit sour, making them unpopular with the kids for their school lunches. In fact, I discovered that they had even returned them home one day, when I was about to refill their lunch bags (at least they didn't throw them out). Apple and cheese scones came to my mind, another Kiwi taste from my past which I hadn't had in a long time. How I remembered the combination baffles me - I'm just glad I did.
Scones are best eaten warm, and pretty much as soon as they come out of the oven. They become rather hard if left till the next day, a little like bread that has lost its freshness. To make them last a little longer for the next day's breakfast, I added an egg for a cakey effect, which I think worked quite well. After slicing them open, we heated them up in the microwave oven for 5 seconds and spread them with butter. I prefer just jam with mine. As for clotted cream, there are some things you can't really expect to find in Crete.

For the recipe, I used Nigella Lawson's recipe (see above photo), with an egg, a grated apple and some grated savoury cheese added to the mixture. The Trex was replaced with fitini (a similar greek alternative). A little less milk was required to get the dough to a kneadable form. I was in too much of a hurry to use a cookie cutter, although I think that this would give the scones a better rise, especially if they were cooked packed together side by side, as Nigella suggests in her book.

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