Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kind of a tradition

I expect everyone's heard about our latest round of shakes by now. It was eerily familiar to be sitting at my desk, checking Stuff for news reports and hoping that no-one had been badly hurt. I once again left work early and made my way home through heavy traffic to find my belongings scattered around the house.

Still, things weren't as bad as in February, at least in my neighbourhood. There's plenty of liquefaction and surface flooding again, but it's not as extensive. And while I did have to tidy up a bit of fallen stuff in my house, not much was actually broken, and I still had power and (except for a very short period when it stopped for some reason) water to clean with.

When I remembered that I made scones after both the September and February quakes, it seemed like a good idea to continue the tradition. After all, I sill have scones to make! I selected date scones (p32) which are my favourite scones to eat, but somehow I've never been all that good at making them - a complete mystery, since it's merely a variation on the same recipe that I use for my always-reliable cheese scones.

I wanted to soften the dates up a bit, so I chopped them up and left them to soak in a little boiled water for about half an hour (this isn't part of the recipe; I just don't like hard chewy lumps of date in a scone). Then I left them in a colander to drain and made a start on the dry ingredients.

I sifted together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cinnamon, before rubbing in some butter and adding the dates. The next step was to add the liquid. The recipe indicates 1 - 1 1/2 cups of milk, but I'd been given a little scone-making tip from my Great-Aunt that I wanted to try out. And since I'm already very familiar with this scone recipe, I felt justified in playing around with it instead of following it precisely.

Auntie Grace's tip was to replace half the milk with water, which apparently makes for a lighter scone. I'd kept the water I drained from soaking the dates, figuring water that was already datey could only improve the flavour (and anyway, we're under instruction from Mayor Bob to conserve water), so I mixed that with some milk and poured it in.

I only used 1 cup of liquid, but it was more than enough. The dough was just a little bit moist, but it handled well enough, and I did feel that the dough felt smoother and lighter as a result of substituting water. I formed it into nine scones (if you try to do twelve as per the recipe, they just come out tiny) and laid them out on a tray.

Finally, I brushed them with milk, sprinkled over cinnamon sugar, and put them in at 220 for 10 minutes. Knowing my oven as I do, I should perhaps have kept a closer eye on my scones and taken them out earlier. Instead, I waited until the timer went off, and the scones were quite dark on top and bottom when I got them out.

I gamely cut one open anyway, but as I went to butter it, I found that the centre was still gooey and entirely uncooked: very unappealing. How does it happen that a scone is overdone on the outside and raw in the middle? Who knows. 

One of the smaller scones was pretty much cooked through, so I ate that one. And it tasted quite good - not the best date scone I've ever had, but nice and cinammony, with lots of lovely soft bits of date, and the cinnamon sugar on top was a tasty addition. I think the water/milk mixture did make the scones a bit lighter, too. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that the whole batch was over/underdone and not particularly usable.  

I'm not sure why, but something always goes wrong when I make date scones. That's just me, though -there's no reason why this recipe shouldn't work for you.


  1. Half milk and water seems to be the way to go. My Auntie Jane, mum's sister always made them that way and she was a cook by trade and the most amazing baker ever. Interestingly "The Great British Bakeoff" had scones the other night and the lady judge said the mix should be slightly sticky and not overhandled.c

  2. yeah, but it's not supposed to be sticky AFTER you've baked it!

  3. True that's a bit strange alright, no idea about that one, sorry.c

  4. Wow, now that IS a mystery!! I wonder why they were undercooked in the middle, yet overcooked on the outside... I've never had date scones before, but I'll be sure to give them a go in a few months time when I'm living in the date capital of the world ;)

  5. I made the Edmonds recipe yesterday and I did a bit of experiementing- I substituted one of the 3 plain cups of flour with whole meal flour and i used a pottle of greek yoghurt. I like you soften the dates but i find you need to use twice and many of them. I mixed the date water and milk and used half in the mixture and the other half for the glaze.
    They weren't the lightest scones I've ever had but they had great flavour and they were moist

  6. I never thought of trying them with yoghurt. Might have to give that a go. Haven't made scones for ages - no earthquakes big enough!


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