Food has an uncanny way of making everything better. It also has the ability to make things infinitely worse – you’ve had a shocker of a day then to top it off discover that you’ve run out of a crucial ingredient just before it’s gotta go in the oven/drop the whole thing on the floor/burn your mouth on it (one of the worst.food.crimes.ever). But, this post is not about the ‘incidents’ we’d rather forget. Let me explain how one unassuming scone turned my week around.
The first half of last week was a why-does-the-man-in-the-sky-hate-me-so-much kind of week. One that you look back on and cringe at how much you overreacted/ how self-absorbed/immature/shallow you were. So what did my ‘shocker’ of a week look like?
- The week started with an accounting test. Accounting is never a good thing, particularly at 8am on a Monday.
- A trip to the doctor on Monday afternoon revealed that I have a virus. One that can only be cured by rest – I’m told to lay off on the exercise, study, work, cooking etc. Sorry doctor, not going to happen with a new job starting the following day and exams on Friday. And no exercise? You’ve got to be kidding.
- $70 decided that it didn’t like the cosy confines of my short’s pocket & took a hike. Obviously it was gone when I retraced my steps (all 3km of them).
- I discovered that my new job involves wearing a baseball cap that makes me look like a pre-pubescent boy. Call me superficial, but it was crushing at the time.
- Had a minor meltdown on Tuesday night (partially due to points three and four). The kind where you lose all sense of decorum. I know I would have laughed at me.
- Despite trying to rest (well, not really) my virus refused to go.away. I spent a large part of the week bouncing off walls due to blurred vision and a pounding headache.
- I spent most of Thursday reeking of chicken, due to practicing for my poultry exam the following day. Knowing that you’re going to have to prepare the exact same meals 24 hours later doesn’t exactly increase the fun factor.
I warned you it would be a petty list. Where do the scones come in? Well the best way to get rid of a nasty smell is to replace it with a better one. Goodbye stinky chicken kitchen…hello toasted coconut and almonds. The aroma wafting through the kitchen was tantalising. Fortunately they tasted just as good as they smelled. Perhaps better. A crunchy topping, fluffy centre, a sublime nuttiness from the almonds and coconut and little hits of chocolate interspersed throughout. My week didn’t seem nearly so ‘awful’ when contentedly munching away on one of these, straight from the oven. With a smell like that, did you really think I’d wait until they cooled down to a more appropriate temperature? Of course not.
Even when I was treated to a shock of cold water in the shower (someone forgot I was in the bathroom and ran hot water downstairs), my scone-induced foolish grin couldn’t be shifted. I don’t mind having an ‘off’ week once in a while, if I’m allowed to bake these as compensation! It’s also important to be reminded that generally our problems are often quite transient and inconsequential. If my ‘hiccups’ are so small that they can be fixed by a little baking then I’ve really got nothing to complain about.
Coconut, Almond, Dark Chocolate Scones
Makes about 12.
1 cup plain flour
2 cups wholemeal flour
2 tbsp sugar
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bi-carbonated of soda
½ tsp salt
170g unsalted butter, chilled & cut into small cubes
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup almonds, chopped (or used slivered/flaked)
½ cup dark chocolate chips
Milk & white sugar for topping
Preheat oven to 200C. Spread out coconut and almonds on a baking tray and toast in the oven for about five minutes or until golden brown. Check regularly – they burn easily! Remove and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 220C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
In a large bowl sift together the flours, baking powder, bi-carb and salt. Stir through the sugar.
Use your fingertips to quickly rub the butter into the flour mixture. You’ll end up with some bits the size of peanuts, and some smaller. That’s fine. Place in the fridge whilst you whisk together the egg and buttermilk.
Stir the toasted coconut, almonds and choc chips through the flour/butter mixture. Create a well in the centre and pour in the butter/egg mixture in one go. Use a fork to combine and form a rough mixture (it won’t be ‘flexible’ like some scone doughs).
Lightly flour a surface and shape the mixture into a circular ‘patty’ about 3cm thick. Use a 7cm (or similar) cutter to cut out the scones. If the cutter starts to stick to the dough, sprinkle a little flour over it. Place on baking trays, about 2cm apart. Gently press any leftover mixture back into a circle, to cut out as many as possible (I usually end up shaping the last few left overs into a scone by hand).
Brush the scones with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar (as much or as little as you like).
Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until well risen, golden brown and cooked through (test with a skewer).
Transfer to a wire rack. Best served warm with butter, and berry jam, if you like.
*Note these scones will only keep for about a day in an airtight container, so I recommend freezing any leftovers. Just pop in the oven or microwave (on a very low setting) for a few minutes to defrost.
Source: Slightly adapted from Joy The Baker.