from one generation to the next
I have one very vague memory of watching Auntie Marj make scones in her farm kitchen near Ballarat. I was 10 y.o and we were on our way to Expo88 in Brisbane, the big family trip. I remember a frilly, floral apron, a wonderful friendly face, and catching yabbies in the back paddock after riding in (and helping to drive), Uncle Joe’s ute around the farm, to feed hay to the sheep. A true Aussie experience for any city kid visiting the country. But this entry is not about me, it’s about Mum’s experience.
Mum’s memory of the her farm experiences:
I was only a little tacker when we went to the farm and visited Auntie Marj & Uncle Joe so I didn’t do too much cooking I spent more time hanging around with the men on the farm than the women. I did plenty of eating, and loved it!
and so the story of how Auntie Marj’s scones became our own:
Food and cooking memories are often fleeting, yet my most significant have entered my psyche and have influenced the choices I have made for myself as a cook. The simplest, unadorned food memories from my childhood involve my Auntie Marj, not a blood relative but a wonderful older friend, a farm raised girl who learned from her mother the skills of seasonal cooking, thrift and creativity at a combustion stove, feeding hungry shearers and farm workers on the food that was produced on the farm or bartered during times of glut with friends and neighbours. At the end of summer pantry shelves would be laden with bottled fruit, jams and chutneys. Milk and cream were plentiful and lamb from the farm was a dinner staple. Auntie Marj was renowned for the sweet treats she served for afternoon tea, her light as air scones with home made strawberry conserve and fresh cream whipped with a taste of sugar and vanilla irresistible. As I began to cook as a young teenager, it was Auntie Marj’s scones I tried the hardest to emulate, but with little success. I didn’t understand that there are many many recipes, even for something a simple as scones. As my cooking confidence grew, I began to understand that the greatest compliment you can give a cook is to ask for the recipe, so I did just that and Auntie Marj gladly shared. This recipe evolved in her mother’s kitchen, no butter on hand, but plenty of cream, the result a super simple light as air scone.
The scone recipe itself:
pre-heat your oven to 400f (200c)
2 1/2 heaped cups SR flour
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the liquids. Mix into a rough sticky dough. Tip out onto a well floured board, pat gently into a 3 cm thick square. Cut out the scones and place close together on a greased oven tray. Bake in a hot oven 400f (200C) until well risen and browned. I found about 15 – 20 mins was enough time.
The secrets of light and fluffy scones. Only mix until the dough is just combined, handle the dough to a minimum. Place on oven tray close together so they are forced to rise rather than spread and bake in a hot oven so they cook quickly and do not dry out.
And my results: Super happy with them. They turned out light and fluffy, with a crunchy skin, just like a good scone should. I went with squares to minimise the handling as the recipe suggested, although traditionally scones tend to be round. The shape doesn’t affect the flavour though and helped to keep the scones close together. Give these a try, they might sound intimidating, but they were super quick to make (maybe 5 mins prep time pre cooking).