After I posted an entry about Geraldine Hartman’s Not Just for Vegetarians, I received an e-mail from the author thanking me for the feature. Actually, I felt that it was a bit premature to thank me since I hadn’t made any recommendations nor assessments. The previous entry was more of a “for announcement only” kind of thing. Anyway, she read about my intention to bake some scones and mentioned that the ‘Potato and Raisin Scones’ (page 24 of the book) were “to die for”. I decided to find out for myself.
When I first read the recipe, I was a little surprised that there were no eggs listed among the ingredients. I was a little worried that the scones would resemble a hard unleavened bread which I don’t like. But I went ahead and baked the scones anyway. And guess what? I went to scone heaven this morning and I don’t think I’m quite ready to head back to earth. Geraldine’s ‘Potato and Raisin Scones’ were just marvellous. Just marvellous. I don’t think I’ll be content with pancakes ever again.
The recipe recommends sultanas (golden raisins) but I only had ordinary raisins (tossed in a tablespoonful of flour in the photo) and they were what I used. Butter was listed but I used a brand of margarine which, I discovered, while not as creamy as real butter does not have the aftertaste of most margarines. It’s called Baker’s Best and it’s available in most supermarkets. See, all these baking experiments are turning out to be a bit more expensive than I anticipated and, well, if I’m going to buy the silicone bakeware that I had been eyeing, I need to scrimp a little on the cost of ingredients.
So, you’ll need to mix together 1-1/2 cups of unbleached flour, 1 tbsp. of baking powder, 1/2 tsp. of salt and 3 tbsps. of sugar (above, left). That’s what the recipe says. But because I was using seasoned mashed potatoes (complete with butter, milk, salt and pepper), I decided to do away with the 1/2 tsp. of salt. I also increased the sugar to 4 tablespoonfuls.
The first step is to cut in 1/3 c. of chilled butter (like I said, I used Baker’s Best margarine) into the flour mixture. There is a little tool for doing this but two knives will do the job just as well. Personally, I like doing this with my hand to make sure that the butter is evenly distributed (above, right). Took a lot of effort to take that photo but I managed.
After the butter has been sufficiently incorporated into the flour mixture, stir in the mashed potatoes and the raisins. The recipe calls for 3/4 c. of mashed potatoes but I used more than that. What else would I do with the leftovers?
So, after the mashed potatoes and raisins have been added to the flour mixture, I poured in some milk and mixed everything together (above, left). I started with just a tablespoonful of milk and added little by little until the dough came together. I must have used about 4 to 5 tablespoonfuls of milk. The dough was sticky probably because I used more mashed potatoes than the recipe says. When I transferred the mixture to a floured board, I sprinkled it with a little more flour until it could be formed into a ball. I let the dough rest for 10 minutes (above, right). I didn’t bother covering it with a dampered tea towel because the dough was sticky enough as it was and I didn’t think adding more moisture was going to help.
After the dough had rested, I kneaded it a little. The recipe says 2 minutes but I don’t think I kneaded my dough that long (I was hungry and the scones were supposed to be my brunch). I placed the kneaded dough on a greased and floured baking sheet. Actually, I placed a sheet of foil on the oven tray and it was the foil that I greased and floured. You know, to make washing the tray easier. I patted the dough until it was about an inch thick. The recipe says score the dough without cutting all the way through. I did that using a pizza cutter (above, left). :razz:
The dough went into a 170oC oven which is lower than the recommended 190oC. The reason is that I use a convection oven. A fan assisted convection oven cooks food faster. So, at 170oC, my potato and raisin scones were perfectly baked and browned after 25 minutes, the recommended baking time (above, right).
What happened next, of course, was I ate the scones. Not all eight slices. I had two for brunch with butter and blueberry jam (below). And coffee, not tea. I had another one without the butter and jam at around 2.00 p.m. after I turned on the computer.
What were the scones like? Crisp on the outside, soft inside. They weren’t greasy and two slices are enough for a meal. They’re best freshly baked and still warm. Okay, I ate them hot–I couldn’t wait anymore; I was hungry. I was in such a hurry to take that photo above because the butter was melting fast. If you’re serving them hours later, I suggest you reheat them. They’re really wonderful. With bread like this, I can almost forget my occasional craving for croissant and foccaccia.