Berry Scones

Scones have become massive in Sweden in recent years.  I think they’ve come to stand not just for all things quaint and English, but for an easy, quick shortcut to wholesome domesticity.  You can, after all, throw them together in about half an hour.  But whereas over here there seems to be very little deviation from the classic recipe (apart from a debate about self raising vs plain flour and bicarb),  a quick search on google.se reveals a plethora of varieties.  There are plenty of takes on the chocolate scone, as well as combinations like olive and sun-dried tomato, chili and Parmesan and even the (very Swedish) cardamon.  And on www.scones.se you can find recipes using flours ranging from rye to spelt and everything in between. 

I’m more of a purist so my recipe is pretty square, although it is nice to have a bit of variety on occasion.  The following recipe is the mildest of twists on the classic with roast berries lightly dotted through the dough in quite a subtle, but pleasantly surprising way.  And because scones are normally served with berry-based jams anyway, the combination of soft, sweet fruit and fluffy scone feels pretty natural. 

I roast the berries first to dry them out a little and intensify the flavour and then serve them with soured cream or Greek yogurt, for a bit of sour kick.  However, there is of course nothing at all to stop you lashing on the clotted cream.  And because the sweetness from the fruit is already there, you could even forgo the jam and save yourself getting involved in an argument over what accompaniment is spread on top first. 

Strawberry and Blueberry Scones
You will need:
225g/8oz self raising flour
pinch of salt
55g butter (very cold)
25g caster sugar 
150ml milk
1 free-range egg
Berries- I used strawberries and blueberries (a large punnet’s worth, basically)

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C.  Slice the larger berries and lay onto a lined baking tray.

2. Bake the berries in the oven, until dried out and beginning to crisp- about 15-20 minutes.  But keep an eye on them!  They burn quickly.

3. Meanwhile, put the flour and salt in a large bowl and rub in the butter.

4. Stir in the sugar and milk.

5.  Once the berries are done, take them out of the oven and turn up the heat to 220 degrees C.  Leave to cool slightly before adding to the dough.   Gently combine to evenly distribute.

 6.  Knead the dough on a (very) floured work surface- it will be a pretty sticky dough, but you can add more flour if it is totally unworkable.

7.  Roll out the dough into a circular shape, about 2cm thick.  Cut out pie-shaped triangles, you should be able to get about 8 out of it.

8.  Brush the triangles with the beaten egg or milk if you prefer, to give them a nice sheen. Bake for 12-15 minutes until risen and golden.

9.  Leave to cool slightly before tucking in.

Angel Food Birthday Cake

It was Toby’s birthday this week.  Although overall a pretty low-key affair, it did start with some rather decadent Eggs Benedict at the Wolseley (which was great for me as breakfasting there is on my list of 30 things to do before turning 30).  The evening was spent in the pub with a few drinks, good company and, of course, birthday cake.  

This Angel Food cake is a bit of a favourite of mine.  Because it consists mainly of egg whites, it is almost impossibly light and fluffy.  Yet it rises to an impressive height while still being robust enough to hold fillings and icings.  And because it is fairly plain, so you can use it as a blank canvas and add what you will.  In the past, I’ve filled it with cinnamon apples topped with a maple syrup icing.  Toby wanted something fruity this time though, so I filled it with fresh berries and used the White Chocolate Frosting from the More from Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.  Enjoy. 

Angel Food Cake with Summer Fruit and White Chocolate Frosting

You will need:

For the cake:
10 (yes, 10!) egg whites
1 tsp (clear) vinegar
200g caster sugar
250g icing sugar
125g strong bread flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
A selection of berries: Raspberries, Strawberries and Blueberries work well as do the more sour berries like red currants.

For the frosting:
350g of butter
6 tbsp milk
 250g white chocolate, plus extra for decorating, if wished
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g sifted icing sugar

 

Method:

1. First, get cracking on the cake.   Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C. Using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites and teaspoon of vinegar until the foam is stiff and peaky.  At this point, start to add the caster sugar, bit by bit, whisking between each addition.

2.  Sift the icing sugar, flour and salt together in a separate bowl and then gradually and carefully fold these into the egg white mixture.  Be sure to keep as much of the air in the mixture as possible.  Add the vanilla.

3.  Carefully pour the mixture to a large loose-bottomed tin.  Smooth the top of the mixture with a palette knife to make sure it is evenly distributed.  Then, knock the bottom of the tin with your knuckles.  This will get rid of any of the air bubbles.

4.  Put in the oven for about 40 minutes, until slightly golden in colour and firm (yet still quite bouncy) to the touch.  As soon as it comes out of the oven, turn the cake upside down and leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack.

5.  Meanwhile, start the frosting.  Melt the white chocolate in a bain-marie over a low heat.  Remove the bowl from the pan and leave to cool for about 10 minutes.

6.  Meanwhile, beat the butter with an electric mixer until really creamy.  Add the milk and keep whisking.

7.  Add the chocolate, slowly, whisking all the while.  Finally, add the vanilla and the sugar (in stages) and keep whisking until all the sugar has been incorporated and you have a light, fluffy icing.  This makes for a very sweet icing, so you may find you don’t want to use it all.  

8.  To assemble the cake, remove from the tin and slice in half horizontally through the middle.  Spread this with fruit- I used mushed up raspberries, which seeps into the cake- lovely.  You could, of course, frost the middle of the cake, but I personally find this too sickly.  Put the cake back together and slather with icing- top and sides or just the top if you prefer.  Decorate with fresh berries.