There’s barely been a moment to breathe these last four weeks. That fickle balance between boredom and being the busiest bee out and about is as elusive as ever. As a result sanity begins to slip by the wayside. You get snappy at the teensiest of issues, a special song makes you burst into tears out of the blue, and for the first time (apart from when you’ve been bedridden with illness) you sacrifice exercise for more sleep. Because you just can’t seem to get enough of it. We all have our tipping points and someone is teetering on the edge of theirs. But the safety rope is close by. The knots and weaves are different for everyone – those things, oft a combination of the peculiar and mundane – that keep you from fall face-first off the edge. Make it your mission to learn them. To draw on them when necessary.
Cooking has been virtually impossible in recent times and is now also unnecessary due to a return to residential college meals. The latter is a fact I often mourn, although am deeply grateful for at the moment. Despite the absence of physical cooking, striving to maintain an, if tenuous, connection with good food and produce has been integral to retaining that last grain of sanity sand. Cycling to the market one morning and beaming like a small child as you wander the aisles of ridiculously cheap summer fruit. Coming home with a backpack full of juicy nectarines, a prickly pineapple, luscious red strawberries and five fat mangoes. Relishing the juice of fresh mango dribbling down your chin just before running to that meeting. Brunching in the park with a local, grainy bread topped with a feast of barbecued mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach and free range eggs. Finding a spare half hour to watch an episode of Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook, sprawled out on the couch. Fan-girling so damn hard in the process. Life seems that little bit easier after these culinary encounters.
One of the many long, convoluted lists strewn across my desk is the ‘life to do list’. Aside from random points such as ’email granny’ there is the plaintive plea to ‘bake something. plz’. Somehow the 1.3kg of nectarines and peaches purchased a few days ago has dwindled rapidly. A return to the market is thus in order. For these Nectarine and White Chocolate Spelt Scones are on the agenda. Although a certain someone is an organisational nutter, you’ve gotta admit that ticking items off lists is sweetly satisfying. Especially when it involves baking a batch of homely, comforting scones.
Light and fluffy with a nutty undertone thanks to the spelt flour, these are the ideal lazy breakfast or substantial afternoon tea. A good cuppa is a mandatory accompaniment. Little bursts of sweetness will dance over the taste-buds, thanks to both the white chocolate chips (an experimentation with dark chocolate is on the cards too) and diced nectarine. A smear of good quality salted butter contrasts oh-so-perfectly.
So, the lesson from today’s ramble. Know your stress/frantic-headless-chook limits. Understand your safety rope (not net, because you ain’t actually going to fall, uh-uh). Bake scones. Relax. Eat scones. Relax. Eat more scones. Be happy.
Nectarine & White Chocolate Spelt Scones
Makes roughly 8 scones.
200g spelt flour, plus extra for rolling
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tspn baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
45g unsalted butter, chilled & cut into small dice
120g (1/2 cup) plain yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp milk powder (optional)
Up to 1/4 cup milk, plus extra for brushing on top
180g nectarines (1-2), cut into 1-2cm dice and tossed with 1 tbsp spelt flour
40g (2 tbsp) white chocolate chips/chopped white chocolate
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a large baking pan with baking paper.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb soda and salt. Lightly rub the cubes of butter in, using your fingertips, until almost incorporated (lumps slightly smaller than pea size are okay.)
In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the yoghurt, vanilla essence and milk powder.
Tip the yoghurt mixture into the bowl of flour all in one go. Use a fork to lightly bring the two together, adding a little milk if necessary to form a just moist dough. Try to handle the dough as little as possible. Gently stir in the nectarine cubes and chocolate chips.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and pat into a 5cm high round. Cut out wedges, or use a circular cutter to make circles. If you use a cutter, be careful not to twist as cut through the dough – this impedes the rising process.
Transfer the wedges/rounds to your prepared baking tray, leaving a couple of centimeters between each piece.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until risen and golden brown.
Set pan on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing the scones from the pan and setting on the wire rack to cool completely.
Serve warm or at room temperature with butter or jam if liked.
Source: Adapted from London Bakes