St Paddy’s day was last week, and the festivities have caused me a little loneliness for Ireland. Thankfully I’ve introduced all my smartphone-owning friends and family back home to the joys of WeChat, so between that and Skype it’s easy to keep in touch.
I’ve always found childhood comfort food one of the best treatments for homesickness. In our family, scones are both a breakfast staple and an afternoon treat; I must have seen thousands of them coming out of the oven over the years.
On discovering we have visitors (in Ireland people commonly drop by without calling first) my mother measures, mixes, rolls out, and bakes a batch in a reflexive blur before guests have even had a chance to take their coats off. Many people don’t realize that scones are a quick-bread; there’s no messing around with yeast, and they couldn’t be simpler to make. I’m not as speedy as her, but I can still put a dozen diamond cut scones on the table inside 20 minutes.
The recipe I recommend (and which most closely matches my mother’s) is Darina Allen’s; Mummy’s Sweet White Scones.
When it comes to toppings, serve them still warm with butter, jam and whipped cream – in that order. For an authentic Irish flavor, I recommend making them with Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter, made from grass-fed summer milk – which is available in April Gourmet. (Kerrygold also provides an alternative recipe.)
Unfortunately I’ve yet to find Barry’s Tea, a tea-blend from my hometown Cork, in Beijing, and supplies are dwindling. Pair your scones with any Irish (or English) Breakfast Tea and brew it strong.
You can follow a more complex recipe first featured in beijingkids magazine from Paul Zhang, sous chef at the Writers Bar, Raffles Beijing Hotel here.
Photo courtesy of kirsty hall, nick saltmarsh (flickr), and beijingkids