Saturday, January 06, 2007
Saturday, January 6, 2006
Today was the first day of our annual January Coffee and Doughnut hours. On each Saturday in January, we have a very casual open house at which we serve coffee, tea, cider, doughnuts, and (when I'm in the mood) something baked by me. Today I was in the mood to bake cranberry scones--the basic scone recipe from The Bread Bible, but with dried cranberries substituted for the currants. These scones are made with a half-pound of butter and 2 cups of cream, so right from the start, you have high hopes for them. And I remember that when I made them last year, with currants, I thought that they were the best scones I have ever had, even including some I had in England. And, by the way, although I had some excellent scones and pots of tea in England, I also had some of the sorriest excuses for scones that I've ever eaten and tea that consisted of one Lipton tea bag in a pot of tepid water in England, so the U.S. is not the only place that's going to hell in a handbasket.
Be that as it may, I was feeling quite confident this morning, since I had already baked these scones and remembered them as being relatively uncomplicated, and since I had all the ingredients at hand and plenty of time. Then I realized that I'd poured in an entire carton of half-and-half and the carton of cream was still in the refrigerator. You see? Pride really does goeth before a fall. If I had only been humbler and had double-checked what I was doing instead of blithely grabbing things out of the refrigerator, this never would have happened. I was left with several possibilities: 1) go ahead and bake sub-par scones, 2) dump the first batch and run to the store for more butter and cream, or 3) somehow get the half-and-half out of the flour mixture. 1) Never! 2) not enough time and too wasteful, leaving 3) as the only option. I took a small sieve and poured off most of the half-and-half and then added the approximate volume of what I had discarded. So much for my precise measurements!
The texture seemed pretty good, so I just went ahead with the recipe, and they turned out beautifully. I ended up with 15 scones, most of them shaped into triangles; the ones on the edge were misshapen but tasted just as good. I sprinkled extrafine sugar on one pan, and I actually preferred those because of the tartness of the cranberries.
I finished just before the neighbors started arriving. We had the platter of scones on one side of the table and the platter of store-bought doughnuts on the other side.
I watched surreptitiously to see who chose from the plebeian platter of doughnuts and who chose from the beautiful array of hand-crafted scones, adjusting my opinion of the person's taste up or down as the case may be, acknowledging that sometimes a greasy doughnut may just hit the spot.
Posted by Marie at 1:51 PM