I’ve been making scones for as long as I can remember. Mum always said that I was good at it because I had cold hands or something – I was able to rub the butter into the flour without the butter melting.
It’s been years since I made scones that way though. In recent times it’s been about something involving a lot less mess and fuss like these lemon lime and bitters scones. Just a few ingredients and stir it about a bit.
I have, however, been craving the real thing over the past week or so – I’m blaming this head cold that I can’t seem to see the end of. It’s making me feel desperately sick of myself and craving anything other than salad.
This morning I picked up the draft of the novel that I should have finished writing at the end of last month and deleted a few sentences, then a few more. Then I took myself out to my favourite coffee shop hoping that the change of scenery would bring the words back. Nope, I deleted a few more sentences though. So, back home I came – even more sick of myself than when I started out.
In retrospect, I was ripe for the subliminal seduction of a headline on the front of my foodie magazine: “Matt Moran: Best Buttermilk Scones.” Why not? I thought. They’ll go beautifully with the strawberry jam I made last weekend.
‘Don’t mess with the classic,’ warned my daughter. ‘Remember what happened with Nigella?’
I did remember. That was the day that Nigella came crashing down of the pedestal upon which I’d sat her. The day of the Nutella brownies. Before that, I used to think that Nigella was never wrong. Ever. Nigella was perfect in every way.
Until that day I made the Nutella Brownies from Simply Nigella.
It all seemed so promising to start with. The ultimate brownie madeNutellaella and eggs…with a little icing sugar. Miss 18 was excited – she loves nutella and she loves brownies. And Nigella’s snow flecked brownies from Feast are still the brownie to beat all brownies.
So I made them.
Miss 18 hung around – as she always does- for the beater and the bowl. She says it’s her contribution to the baking process. The first sign of trouble came as she licked the spoon I’d used to mix the batter.
‘Oh,’ she said, sounding disappointed.
‘What does that mean?’ I asked. ‘That “oh”?’
‘I’m not keen.’
She was less keen when they came out of the oven.
‘I’m sorry Mum, but I’m disappointed. Nigella talked these up and,’ she was shaking her head, ‘they taste like jellied chocolate squares – like those choco, jubey lollies.’
‘It’s not that they’re awful,’ she said, ‘just that they’re not brownies. I guess if I was gluten free they’d be good.’
Because it was a girls night in, I’d also made her sweet potato macaroni from Simply Nigella. Nigella had described it as the best macaroni ever.
‘What do you think?’ I asked her. ‘Is it the best ever?’
She chewed some more and shook her head sadly. ‘No. It’s good, it’s really good, but your pumpkin mac is better.’ Feeling generous she added, ‘if I hadn’t had that, I’d rate this one up there.’
The more months went by the more she decided she disliked those Nutella brownies. I was quick to forgive Nigella and restore her goddess status, but my daughter – now 20 – has a longer memory.
‘Do we really trust Matt Moran when it comes to scones?’ she asked now.
‘Of course we do.’ I frowned as I read the recipe and wondered at the wisdom of using melted butter and buttermilk. ‘It’s Matt. He knows what he’s doing. Plus he does Bake-Off these days…’
My concerns began when I saw the oven temperature – 170C. What scones are done in an oven that low? And for 25-30 minutes? Seriously? I contemplated straying from the recipe and following my instinct. But I trusted Matt and stuck instead to his instructions.
The result? They look nice, but they’re not nearly as light as my tried and true recipe. They also didn’t rise as much as they should – and yes, I followed the recipe. They also taste a bit…ummm…I don’t know…overly buttery? Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. With strawberry jam and cream though, they’re fine….to a point.
My husband – who normally loves my scones – picked one up, tasted it, and said ‘didn’t you make your usual recipe?’
‘No,’ I said through gritted teeth.
‘The jam is nice though.’
‘What did I tell you Mum? Don’t mess with the classic.’ She shook her head. ‘I’m not sure that I’ll be able to trust Matt after this.’
It’s a hard lesson to learn.