The Little Library Cookbook, by Kate Young

Three of my greatest loves in life are books, baking and books about baking – so a cookbook that combines all three is a very good thing indeed. In fact, I have no idea why it took me so long to find it. Now I need to read Kate Young’s next two books – The Little Library Year and The Little Library Christmas

Part memoir, part cookbook, The Little Library Cookbook began life as a blog where food-related passages from Young’s favourite books inspire memories – and recipes. As a result, it has been an absolute joy to read – to the extent that the recipes were (for me) almost an afterthought, although they shouldn’t be. I had to go back and bookmark the recipes I wanted to make rather than my usual practice of doing it on the first read.

I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read many of the literary classics referred to here – something that made me wonder exactly what I have been reading all these years – but it certainly didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the book. It did, however, made me immediately add a few literary classics to my TBR pile.

While I (now) have a number of recipes marked to try (namely the saffron cake, crumpets, and treacle tart with rosemary ice cream – which I’ll be making for a future Pride and Prejudice bake), so far I’ve made the spice cookies (which I need to make again so I can update this post with a decent photo) and the vegetable consommé inspired by Virginia Woolf’s, A Room of One’s Own.

Here was the soup…One could have seen through the transparent liquid any pattern that there might have been on the plate itself. But there was no pattern. The plate was plain.

A room of one’s own, Virginia Woolf

The soup, a thin and delicate onion-based consommé served with asparagus, was a palaver to make but an absolute flavour bomb to eat – and I served it in a patterned plate so we could see the pattern through the soup.

The recipe that I’m choosing to feature today though, is, of course, scones.

The smell of scones wafted through the kitchen. I ate three before I even touched my tea. They were sweet and crumbly, and succulent with melting butter.

The butterfly lion, Michael Morpungo

These ones are made with buttermilk and cream and break some of the rules I usually put in place for scones. For a start, the butter is softened and easy to rub in as opposed to fridge-cold and more difficult. Also, you’re not relying as much on the chemical reaction of cold butter and baking powder hitting high temperatures to get a good rise – in this case, it’s helped along by the combo of bicarb soda and buttermilk. And you certainly do get a good rise from these scones without a lot of faffing about.

What you need

  • 250g buttermilk
  • 25ml double cream
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 400g plain flour
  • 4tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp bi-carb of soda
  • 50g softened butter, cubed
  • 1 beaten egg (for glazing)

What you do with it

Because you don’t have any resting time in the fridge with this recipe you can get straight on with the preliminaries – like heating the oven to 220C and lining a baking tray with baking parchment.

In a jug, mix together the buttermilk, cream and sugar together until you can no longer feel the grains of sugar. Sift the flour, baking powder and bi-carb into a large mixing bowl, and rub in the butter as quickly as possible.

Introduce the wet and dry mixes together, using (as I always bang on about when it comes to scones) a dinner knife to stir (in order to avoid overmixing). As soon as the mixture has come together, tip out onto a lightly floured bench and form it into a mound. Using your hands, push down lightly until the dough is around 4cm high.

Using a 5cm round cutter (or a small glass if you don’t have a scone cutter) that you’ve already dipped in flour, push down firmly into the dough. Take care not to twist the cutter as it will impact the scone’s ability to rise evenly. Pop onto the baking sheet spaced slightly apart.

Reroll the trimmings until all the dough is used.

Brush the tops with the beaten egg, place into the hot oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until well-risen and deep golden brown.

Eat immediately, split in half and spread with butter and jam.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

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