As I said on Twitter earlier this week, I both realise and acknowledge that if I’m serious about wanting to write a cookbook, I can’t just earnestly hope someone will say “hey, I’d like to offer you a book deal” while I’m walking down the street, like how some models are discovered. I’ve got to arm myself with a ton of recipes, and work hard on developing them. There’s no cookbook without recipes. Maybe when I’ve got a whole bunch written I could take a week’s annual leave and test them all, and you could all come round and sample them! A bit of a fantasy, sure, but a person can dream. Prepared-ly.
I didn’t invent lemonade scones, and I don’t know who did, but it’s a fairly well-known recipe – the premise being that you mix a can of lemonade, a bottle of cream and a whole lot of self-raising flour and it magically turns into scones when you bake it. I had a wave of the brain one day that gingerbeer instead of lemonade might make for awesomely flavoured scones. I’m not trying to winkle out of making any original thoughts here, but this is one of the most fun things about cooking – taking an existing recipe, adapting and evolving it out of necessity – not having the right ingredients – or inspiration, and just seeing what happens.
My idea was more or less successful. Really delicious, light-textured, golden scones. But not exactly the ginger wonderland I predicted. Turns out that the gingerbeer became completely muffled by the blanket of flour and diluted by the cream. There was, if you concentrated and ate with your eyes shut, a fluttery subtext of flavour, but…yeah.
I liked them so much though, that I tried them again, with a different gingerbeer brand and a handful of chopped crystallised ginger. The latter of which you could definitely taste in the finished product. We loved both versions, so feel free to try them yourself:
300mls cream (I use Zoorganic)
330ml can ginger beer
4 cups self raising flour; OR 4 cups flour plus 2 teaspoons cream of tartar and 1 tsp baking soda
Optional: a handful of chopped crystallised ginger, a handful of chopped dates
Set oven to 200 C. Mix all in a bowl together, as briefly as you can. Pays to sift the flour first. Turn out onto a baking paper-lined tray, pat gently into a rectangle. Using a knife, or better yet, a dough-cutter, slice into 12, keeping them very close together – helps them rise. Bake for about 25 minutes. Best served warm from the oven, but they keep surprisingly well.
So, the first time I made these I used Phoenix Organic Ginger Beer and added a handful of dates. For my second batch I was recommended Pam’s ginger beer by Plum Kitchen, so I asked Tim to get some on his way home from work. He txts to ask if I was sure, because apparently “Bundaberg = best-a-berg!” I replied something along the lines of “Pam’s = insur-pams-able!” but he came home with Bundaberg anyway, because there wasn’t any Pam’s at the supermarket.
It’s not really fair to compare the two batches since the second had actual ginger in it, so my hypothesis notes are as follows:
1) It doesn’t really matter what brand you use. From Budget all the way up to the most artisinal and elegantly-labelled product.
2) If you’re not going to add crystallised ginger, these will still be really nice, but you might as well just use lemonade.
3) I’d like to think that a mix of gingerbeer and crystallised ginger mutually benefit and augment each other’s flavours, rather than all the flavour coming from the crystallised ginger. Because then my initial idea would still be kind of right. Please humour me by agreeing?
4) On the other hand, that kind of coddling will get me nowhere in the cut-throat world of cookbook publishery! Humour me not!
Either way, these are a slightly more charismatic take on your regular scone. Something in the bubbles of the fizzy drink and the oleaginous properties of the cream bestows on the scones a charming lightness and softness of texture. I will make them again. Also, while typing right now, I had this idea that instead of lemonade, you could use a bottle of dry cider, add a pinch of mustard powder and some grated cheese, and how good would that be? A bit like a Welsh rarebit, but in scone form! On the other hand, maybe scones have been plain for centuries for a reason…
Title via: Barbra Streisand, she of muscular voice and enormous back catalogue, singing I’m The Greatest Star, a song about self-belief if ever there was one, from the excellent musical Funny Girl.
Gloryday from See What I Wanna See. Felt appropriate, given the rapture-baiting mood. Not to mention, Idina Menzel is always appropriate listening.
Never Can Say Goodbye, Gloria Gaynor. Isn’t this song just amazing?
Next time: I went to the supermarket the other day and it was $6 for a block of butter! Is this real life? (translation: it’ll probably be dairy-free recipes for a while now.)