Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Petit dejeuner, mademoiselle?

You know what makes a day start out really well? A lot of things would, now that I think about it, but I’m talking about something that is more or less obtainable. And that works for me. Because I’m willing to admit that what made my morning start well may not work for everyone.

Why not? Because not everyone loves making breakfast as much as I do, right? I think it may even be my favourite meal of the day to prepare. Perhaps breakfast making is a tie with bread making. They both have the same sort of dreamy quality to them, they both fall firmly into the comfort food category and they both make the house smell delicious. I discovered long ago that a great way to get kids up in the morning was to bake cinnamon buns. Granted, they would appear in the kitchen like pajama-ed zombies (if zombies wanted buns, not brains) but still, they’d be up.

Don’t get alarmed here; breakfast is frequently cold, out of a box, and seriously you have legs get up and get it yourself. But eventually my burning need to make breakfast for someone gets the better of me and things get baked.

I think the longest breakfast making break I ever took was when I made raisin scones, and when I took one to The Boy he asked if it was fresh, or a leftover from the day before. Yeah, that was my reaction too. Cold cereal or a whole lot of nothing was the breakfast menu for months after that!

Today was going to be Madeleine’s.

But they really don’t look very shell like if they don’t chill for a decent amount of time. And I was already up, and wanting to bake. If I’d thought of it the night before I would have been up earlier, but I didn’t. Then I thought about langue du chats,

but really they’re more of an afternoon tea and coffee thing. I thought that I should get some sort of fruit into whatever I was making. Not that fruit makes anything healthy, but it would make me feel less guilty about not whipping up an egg white omelette or hemp and fruit smoothie.

In the end I went for raisin scones. Until I remembered that The Girl doesn’t like raisins. Aha! She does, however, love cherries. And scrabbling in the tub of add-ins (raisins, chocolate, fruit, nuts, nut paste etc) I found dried Bing cherries. Perfect! So cherry scones it would be. I did think about using coconut milk or cream instead of yogurt or buttermilk, but if I did that I’d probably add toasted coconut too, and then things would quickly get out of hand. So I stuck to nutmeg and cherries.

I also made tea. The Girl bought so much tea on a vacation that we’re drowning in it. That would never happen if it was black tea – a weakness of mine – but the majority of it is herbal, and what isn’t is flavoured black tea. Sacrilege! If I wanted my tea to taste like chocolate, I’d dip a chocolate bar into hot black tea. Which is yummy, but the way but I digress. Since there was tea, and hot scones I decided that the whole thing deserved a tray, with tea cup and saucer and matching plate. Had there been any flowers left in the garden, I would have put a vase on the tray too. Sigh. I love breakfast! And the rest of the scones, what happened to them, you ask? I brought them to the office, of course, on a pretty tray. With some butter on the side. Ooh, I wish I had an espresso machine. I would have made coffee too. Oh well, no big deal, people were pretty happy with just the pastry. It didn’t hurt that there was a meeting going on when I arrived. All meetings go better with baking.

The scone recipe I use is one that has sold well for me (the scones, not the recipe!). It has even been shall we say…appropriated?...by a local coffee shop. Ah well, perhaps that is as famous as I’ll ever get.

Has all this scone discussion made you think about making some scones? If you’re interested in trying it out, I’m including it. In the original form, with raisins.

Raisin Scones

Preheat oven to 375

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup of raisins
½ cup butter
½ tsp nutmeg (I use fresh ground, and I don’t measure. Half a teaspoon, whole teaspoon doesn’t really matter. I like the taste. Keep in mind that fresh is more intense than store bought ground)
¾ cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
2 eggs (separate them. The yolks go in the dough, the whites are for the topping)
extra sugar for sprinkling on top

Mix the dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until it looks like peas in flour. Toss the raisins with the flour. Whisk the buttermilk together with the egg yolks. Stir into the flour-butter-raisin mixture. Knead gently, just until it comes together. Over working it will make them tough. Divide in half. Roll into two six inch circles. Cut each circle into quarters. Bake 10-12 minutes.

Things I changed: I used the cherries instead of raisins, as mentioned. I also patted the dough into a rectangle and used a pretty little wavy-edge biscuit cutter to make small rectangular scones. Mainly because I had been wanting to use the cutter for ages, but also because small scones means that more people are likely to try one. When they’re big triangles they’re great for selling, or for a more filling snack, but if you work with weight conscious people small bites are better. They don’t really need butter but don’t hold back if you do!

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