I made scones. If you’re going to be picky I made scones on Saturday but if you’re awkward we’ll never get anywhere.
My baking skills have always been shaky at best. This was more down to lack of necessity as much as anything. I was lucky enough to be fed regularly as a child and the only cooking I ever did was the extra, cooking for cooking’s sake, stuff that all children should do at some point. I do have one recipe as my forté though. We had a cookery book as I was growing up (technically a sibling’s I think but that never seemed relevant) that guided us through our first forays into the world of cuisine. It was a very detailed book with very complex, technical recipes to be followed to the letter if there was any chance of success. Every page was more of a challenge than the last. It looked like this:
The recipe that I really took to was that for scones. Amazing things and something people would tell me I’d done well at whenever I made them. Always a good incentive to do something. Inside it gave you the boring stuff that they thought you ought to know (like ingredients) but in a much more imaginative, useful way than any other book. Everything had pictures. You need a bowl? This is what a bowl looks like. You need 120g of flour? This is what that looks like. Not only would there be a picture of flour, there would be a life size picture of what a 120g pile of flour would look like. If you so desired, you could even pile the ingredients on top of the page until it covered the picture instead of weighing it. It was excellent. Even I could follow such instructions.
Until that is I started actually following the instructions. This is one of those occasions that will stick with me forever. The one that get’s told by the parents whenever us as small children enters conversation. I think it must have been the first time I’d attempted to make them on my own with only the slightest parental supervision. Being the boring sort of chap I was (and presumably still am) I chose to follow them from left to right. Little did I know that this recipe was more like one of those choose your own adventure stories.
Steps 1 to 3 went well. Through Step One I was on fire, cutting up butter like there was no tomorrow. I spent Step Two mixing flour and butter like a pro (maybe in a whole handed way – why should your finger tips get all the fun?). The sugar was added so spectacularly that it never knew what came over it.
By this stage nothing could stop me. The milk was poured in with such style and panache that by the time the wooden spoon had worked its magic, the slightly stodgy mess filling the bowl (and probably smeared over the book as well – some of it’s probably still there), was a work of art.
Step Four had me learning what kneading was, this book truly thought of everything. And so I squeezed it together with my hands, and lo, I saw that it was good.
What I failed to notice (and to this day think is a silly idea) is that the final two boxes have no numbers. For someone following the instructions they say “..after you stir in the sugar”. However, for someone following the pictures, they only say add sultanas. So I added sultanas. And then, oddly, cheese. I sometimes wonder if I saw how bizarre this instruction was at the time or whether I was so determined to succeed that I was blinded to the absurdity. I still don’t understand who would make cheese scones when fruit scones are a possibility.
Either way, when I proudly displayed my creation to the waiting family members later that day, I think it was the first and last time they’d ever had the pleasure of eating a freshly baked, home-made, fruit-cheese scone. A speciality. A speciality I’ll never live down.