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Drop Scones

The term ‘Drop Scones’ can be rather confusing because it’s used to refer to two distinctly different items. The first usage, which seems to be more common in America, is scones made by the rubbing-in method, just like that described in the Plain Scones recipe but roughly shaped by dropping spoonfuls of the dough onto a baking sheet (as illustrated here).

The second type of ‘Drop Scones’ is not made from dough, but a batter, and its alternative name, ‘Scotch Pancakes’ reveals what it’s most similar to. ‘Drop Scones’ are considered a traditional Scottish recipe, as you can read here.

The photos here show you what Scotch Pancake style Drop Scones look like, and the recipe also provides ideas for eating them with savoury toppings.

It’s this pancake variation that grandmother’s recipe below refers to. This is evident from the way the ingredients are combined (straight mixing, no rubbing-in) and the reference to a ‘batter’ that must be left to stand.

Without any clear instructions for the quantity of milk (and I’m not sure how much exactly ‘1 Breakfast cupful’ is!), it would certainly help if you were already familiar with working pancake batters to be able to judge the correct consistency by sight. Don’t forget to use self-raising flour or else add some baking powder.

You may wish to compare this recipe with grandma’s Pancake recipe as well as check out some buttermilk variations (buttermilk assists the rise of the batter and tenderises it) here and here. You’ll notice the second recipe substitutes milk+vinegar for buttermilk, you can also use lemon juice,citric acid or cream of tartar to create the same result; read about buttermilk substitutes here.

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Apple Scone

It’s been waaay too long since I last posted here. The changes to the WordPress Dashboard have really gotten the better of me and made blogging too frustrating and time-consuming. I’m now experimenting with offline blogging software and using different operating systems so I hope to find a new method that works for me in the long run.

This Apple Scone recipe continues the scones series started with my last entry on Plain Scones.

There seem to be truncated instructions here as I have my doubts as to whether a haphazard lumping together of the ingredients below will produce a scone! My advice would be to please follow the instructions for the rubbing-in method in the Plain Scones entry. There’s no quantity for the cream either so is it for topping, or including in the mixture?

The shaping of this scone is also rather unusual. Instead of the usual single-serve pieces cut out from a large piece of dough, this is baked in one entire whole. I’ve never come across a scone like this before!

Also, the instructions call for a low oven temperature, which is quite different from my experience using high temperatures (about 200°C) to force the scones to rise.

Good luck with the recipe and I’d love to hear from anyone who has made a scone like this before!

You might also want to read the recipe for:
Drop Scones (which is actually type of pancake)

Plain Scones

My grandmother loved scones. A couple of decades ago, she bought a recipe book of only scones and muffins, in the back of which she collected handwritten scone recipes from friends and relatives in the search for a great scone recipe.

And I was the one to test them out for her :). Although grandma was an avid baker in her younger years as you can see from this collection recipes, I don’t recall actually seeing her bake something herself. Though of course she guided my childhood interest in baking and always supervised my every move in the kitchen!

More recently, in the last few years, scones became one of my foolproof staples through regular practice as I used to bake them about once a fortnight. Grandma was the happy beneficiary and especially on her birthdays, I knew she would appreciate hot scones fresh from our home oven more than any fancy cake I might buy.

Scones are typically made with the rubbing-in method as mentioned in this recipe here. Working with the the tips of the fingers only and making sure your hands are cool is important to prevent the butter from melting. These days, I use two knives instead – less messy and definitely keeps the temperature down :).

The quantities in this recipe are very straightforward. Self-raising (SR) flour is used and I like the fact that it doesn’t rely on buttermilk, which is expensive to buy in Singapore. However, recently I discovered cheap and easy substitutes for buttermilk, which can be made by adding a bit of lemon juice or cream of tartar to regular milk (read full instructions here). However, I haven’t yet tried scones using this. Personally, I would also omit the sugar as it’s not necessary and you won’t notice its absence after you have heaped cream/butter and jam on your scone!

As long as the rubbing-in is done correctly and the appropriate amount of liquid added, the scones should come out very nicely. Delia Smith teaches that the secret to good scones is to rolling them out at least one inch thick; her page on How to Make Scones is extremely useful.

Another trick is to make sure the dough is not too dry. In fact, I usually work with a dough so wet and soft that instead of struggling to roll it out and use a biscuit cutter, it’s much easier to shape it into a large round and slice into wedges.

One problem with rolling out is that the more times you do it (especially when reworking the odd bits of dough leftover from cutting out the round shapes) the tougher the end result. A cool kitchen tool I have to assist in such circumstances is a batch cookie cutter for five hexagonal shapes joined together in a honeycomb pattern (from Lakeland, but unfortunately they don’t seem to sell this anymore). This eliminates wastage between the shapes or leftover bits that need to be rolled out a second time.

My favourite way to eat scones is with very thick and heavy cream — preferably clotted cream — plus a touch of jam — yes, an English Cream Tea :). I’ve given up ordering cream tea at eateries, both here and in England as the cream is usually disappointingly light and fluffy. Anyway, having just bought some lovely Carrefour organic crème fraîche (I like the way it’s very thick and just gently soured), I think a batch of homemade scones might be coming up very soon :)!

Although best fresh from the oven, scones freeze well. The sooner you pop them into the freezer, the fresher they will taste when you reheat them later.

Do also check out the recipes for:
Apple Scone
Drop Scones (which is actually type of pancake)

Scones Plain

As an avid Evernote user, imagine how surprised I was to find an image from my blog used in the Evernote website section on the application of this information management software for cooks and foodies! One of my photographs of grandma’s recipe notebook was used to illustrate how the advanced features in Evernote can recognise handwriting in images and thus help one to manage non-textual files too.

Since Evernote clipped a page from me, here’s a screenshot of their page featuring my page!

Evernote Nice Recipes

Ice Cream

Here’s another ice cream recipe, and one that is quite different from the earlier recipe for Perfect Vanilla Ice Cream. This one has no cream or eggs but uses gelatine (read more about how it is produced from animal parts here) and custard powder (which I’ve commented on here).

It also calls for the use of an ice cream churner. I wonder how many Singaporean families in the 1950s had one of those? Unlike the modern electric ice cream makers, traditional ice cream churners would most likely have been like this one. As Wikipedia explains,

These machines usually comprise an outer bowl and a smaller inner bowl with a hand-cranked mechanism which turns a paddle, sometimes called a dasher, to stir the mixture. The outer bowl is filled with a freezing mixture of salt and ice: the addition of salt to the ice causes freezing-point depression; as the salt melts the ice, its heat of fusion allows it to absorb heat from the ice cream mixture, freezing the ice cream.

The churners available in Singapore were quite possibly very similar to the ones available in India. The Tribune from Chandigarh tells us that

In India, ice cream was initially made at home from pure buffalo milk. By the turn of the 18th Century, an ice cream machine was developed for home use. You can still buy the stuff. It’s a wooden bucket with a central aluminum jar and a churner. For preparing ice cream in the machine, you have to put milk, essence and sugar in the jar. This container is then placed in the bucket full of ice and a little salt. After churning for about 45 minutes, the ice cream is ready. Though not as smooth as the one available in the market, it is delicious.

Like the Indian news article, grandma’s recipe calls for the addition of ‘flavouring essence’. Indeed, a Google search of ‘flavouring essence’ throws up mostly manufacturers in India. The flavours could be lemon, strawberry, mango, almond etc. A visit to a specialist baking supplies store should provide you with these items.

Ice Cream

Doughnuts

Doughnuts are a hard food to pin down. They come in fried or baked versions, and can be made by a huge variety of methods: some are like breads and use yeast as a leavening agent, while others rely on baking powder; they can be made by the muffin method or by the creaming technique. Grandmother’s recipe introduced me to yet another style of doughnuts.

The recipe here is for a choux pastry. Although grandma did not record the instructions for this, you then go on to fry the choux pastry, as the recipes here and here explain.

This style of doughnuts is closed connected with another kind of fried dough – crullers, which are fashioned into a long, twisted shape. Traditional French crullers are also made from choux pastry, while other kinds of crullers can be made from other kinds of leavened doughnut dough (either using yeast or baking powder). The term ‘Chinese crullers’ is sometimes used to refer to Chinese you tiao [Mandarin] / yao zhar kwai [Cantonese].

Speculation on the historical origins of the doughnut range from prehistoric Native Americans to ancient Rome to the medieval Middle East. However what most sources agree on is the better-documented story of how doughnuts became an American staple. Beginning in early modern Germany and Holland, oliekoecken (oil cakes or fried cakes) were brought to the New World by Dutch settlers, and had established themselves on the American dining table by the mid-19th century.

Well, if what makes a doughnut a doughnut is the hole in the middle, then what about the dough balls made from these holes? Aside from just seeing them as leftover ‘doughnut holes‘, one can simply shape the dough directly into balls and make more elegant-sounding beignet (recipe here).

Below are the two recipes grandmother copied into her notebook. The first is for choux pastry-style doughnuts, The second set of ingredients doesn’t include eggs and therefore can’t be for choux pastry. You’ll need to improvise your own cooking method there.
Doughnuts
Doughnuts 2

Rose Syrup

These two pages are most interesting in terms of dating my grandmother’s notebook, and reveal that grandma was making notes in here well before December 1957 as I had earlier assumed.

On the first page, you’ll notice notations made at at least three or four different points in time: the original recipe in blue-black ball point pen, revisions and the date of this recipe in pencil (I’m not sure what the pencilled numbers represent), then in blue ball point pen ink, going over the pencilled date as well as a “P.T.O” note (referring to the second page on Rose Syrup), and finally a half-dried out pink felt pen used to underline the title. The same blue ball point pen has been used to write part of the second Rose Syrup recipe, and the same pink marker to highlight this recipe as well.

The first page gives the full recipe, and the second provides the recipe in two alternative quantities. You can tell which version my grandmother preferred from the pink markings :).

My memories of rose syrup go back to the visits I used to make to my great-grandmother (grandma Nice’s mother) before she passed away when I was six years old. Each time, I was inevitably given a drink of rose syrup in cold water, I don’t remember ever drinking anything else in her home :). I seem to recall the commercially-packaged bottle of rose syrup, so I doubt it was a homemade version as in this recipe.

These days rose syrup isn’t a common household drink anymore, with modern kitchens taken over by commercial ‘fresh’ fruit juices and soft drinks. However, rose syrup is still familiar to us in the form of Bandung, which is rose syrup in milk, and commonly sold at hawker centres.

Cochineal is a red food dye obtained from the cochineal insect. Although it is a natural colouring that has been used for centuries (spreading out from cochineal’s native South and Central America via colonial routes) and is still the main source of red colourings in today’s food industry, cochineal has been found to cause a range of allergic reactions in some people, from simple itching skin to life-threatening anaphylatic shock.
Rose Syrup A

Rose Syrup B