The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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June 5, 2013

Scones for Miss Pym

As soon as I learned about Barbara Pym Reading Week, I knew that, with all the wonderful food in her novels, I wanted to cook or bake something Pym-ish along with my reading.  If it was going to be something from the two-and-a-third novels I've read this week, it could have been:

  1. cold boiled chicken smothered in a white sauce
  2. risotto made with the leftover chicken {but I already make that all the time}
  3. duck
  4. liver
  5. a small joint
  6. a very nice, though not very large, bird
  7. biscuits {the English kind}
  8. tinned soup {which can still be very nice}
  9. cauliflower cheese {sometimes with added protein}
  10. a Victoria sandwich {like Thomas'}
  11. a store-bought cake {which keeps for weeks, even months, in the tin}
  12. cucumber sandwiches
  13. wafer-thin bread and butter
  14. a casserole of chicken and rice with French beans
  15. stewed plums and rice pudding
  16. ravioli, with a dough like the finest chamois leather
  17. some kind of long rubbery spaghetti
  18. a salad with an oily kind of dressing
  19. a few lettuce leaves with no dressing
  20. curried beef
  21. toad in the hole {'Oh, dear,' Jane burst out, 'I'm afraid I don't like curry and my husband can't take toad, so could we just have the soup and a sweet, perhaps?'}
  22. shepherd's pie

Flora's tea for the handsome young man who reads the lessons {nos. 12 and 13} would have been my first choice, but I thought I might save those for our next heat wave. The problem is, what I really hoped for were scones ... and there was a tragic lack of them in my chosen books. I'm almost positive that there were scones in A Glass of Blessings, though, and since this new and very nice recipe comes from a cookbook by an Italian-American living in Connecticut, authenticity is really a moot point. :)

These are delicious, light, flaky and so easy to make. {I kept wondering if I had forgotten something... eggs? butter? ... but I hadn't.} It was cool again today, perfect weather for tea and the first few chapters of Jane and Prudence, and some baking, to make it a party. And in honor of  finishing Excellent Women this morning, I'll leave this cookbook on my nightstand, to read before bed.

Lemon Currant Scones
adapted from The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook, by John Barricelli
for eight or nine scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the counter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tablespoon baking powder {hard to convert; I just filled my tablespoon measuring spoon 3/4ths of the way}
3/4 teaspoon salt
grated zest of one lemon
3/4 cup dried currants
3/4 cup heavy cream for the dough, plus more for adjusting the consistency and brushing on top
coarse sugar for sprinkling on top

Line a baking sheet {one that will fit in your fridge} with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Stir in the currants.

Add 3/4 cup of the cream and fold gently with a rubber spatula or your hands until the cream is completely absorbed {but don't overmix}.  Add more cream, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together and there are no dry patches {I added 2 tablespoons to mine}.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, pat the dough into a 6-inch square, about one inch thick.  Using a 2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out the scones and place them on the baking sheet.  {They shouldn't touch, but they won't spread so they can be fairly close together.} Pat the scraps back into a square and cut out additional scones, adding them to the baking sheet.  Refrigerate the scones on the baking sheet until they are firm, about an hour.

Set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

While the oven is preheating, brush the top of each scone with a little bit of cream and sprinkle on some of the coarse sugar.  Bake the scones, rotating the pan about two-thirds of the way through so they bake evenly, for about 16 to 20 minutes, until the scones spring back when touched lightly and the tops and bottoms are golden.  Cool on the baking sheets on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool, but try to eat at least one while they're still warm.

{This is the original recipe, halved; if you want to make the full recipe, just double all the measurements listed here and use two baking sheets, baking them one at a time. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as written.}


Lisa said...

Reading your list made me hungry :) There weren't any scones in my book either, now that I think about it. I've never refrigerated scones before baking them - does that make them firmer, I wonder?

Alex in Leeds said...

*grin* Probably best not to read Pym hungry based on that list showing how often her characters converse over meals. Those scones look very interesting, I've never seen a recipe that used cream that way. I made a veggie shepherd's pie yesterday on a whim since it was a dull, grey day - perhaps I was subliminally influenced by my reading?

JoAnn said...

Today is perfect for tea and scones.... chilly, rainy, dreary. My flour is nearly gone (!) and I don't want to venture out again. Guess I'll settle for cauliflower cheese with dinner instead.

mary said...

I think MIss Pym would have been surprised by a scone recipe that used cream (instead of milk or buttermilk) but no butter. (I'm sure some of her characters would have used marge!)
But they do look very nice scones.

Karen K. said...

I think we read the same books!!! I've just finished Jane and Prudence, which I loved, and No Fond Return of Love.

I have another stack of Pyms I bought in honor of her centenary but I think I may have to ration them out and make them last longer!

lyn said...

Some lovely foodie memories there! I often think of Pym when I make macaroni cheese (not like in STG with no salt & not enough cheese)& I bought a cauliflower this morning for cauliflower cheese tomorrow night. My copy of the BP Cookbook has arrived & I plan to post about it tomorrow to finish off BPRW with a post on one of her main themes.

GeraniumCat said...

I've never seen a scone recipe that used cream and no butter, I'm dying to try it.
You're right, Wilf Bason offers scones in AGoB but Wilmet and Rodney have a lobster tea instead. I've just finished it too, and I've been making lists of food in all the books I've read. I noticed that hardly any food is mentioned in An Academic Question.

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