Monday, February 25, 2008

a philosophical question of deep import

If a recipe fails to do what it set out to do, but the results are still delicious, does it count as a failure?

I spent the better part of the weekend laid low with a nasty head cold. Hot tea with lemon and honey started to lose its appeal sometime around the twelfth mug, so I decided to bake fresh ginger scones, inspired by this fresh ginger cake. I reasoned that if I loaded them with enough ginger and black pepper, they would be spicy enough to clear my sinuses.

Unfortunately, I buggered up the spicing, and the resultant scones didn't so much pack a punch as offer a hug and a pat on the head. Fragrant and mild, they didn't help my head cold in the slightest. Well, not my sinuses, at least. Topped with clotted cream and honey, they certainly improved my mood.

So I'm going to say that my answer to the question above is "yes." But if you happen to be personally acquainted with any philosophers, ask them if they'll ponder the problem. You can bribe them with ginger scones.

Ginger Scones

(Makes a dozen scones. Recipe not for one.)

Preheat oven to 400F, and grease a baking tray.

Dump three cups of flour, two teaspoons of baking powder, and a pinch of salt into a big mixing bowl. Add teaspoon each of ground ginger, ground black pepper, nutmeg, and allspice. Sift if you're fussy about such things. Give it a good stir if you're not. (I'm not.)

Cut in three-quarters of a stick of butter until the largest lumps are pea-sized. Add a tablespoon of fresh grated ginger and a quarter-cup of brown sugar, tightly packed. Turn the mixture with your fingers, then add one egg, and one cup of light cream. Mix until a soft dough forms.

Shape dough into rounds and place them on the baking tray. Brush with milk or more cream.

Bake for thirty to thirty-five minutes. Serve with honey and clotted cream or butter.

(Alex is really getting into the whole food photography thing. Aren't these photos nice?)


Jack said...

I love philosophical questions like that. I think the answer to this one is "No, it's an expansion of human knowledge and experience. Also, it's damned tasty."

Some of the greatest discoveries ever made were "happy accidents". I think we should treasure them!

adele said...

Indeed. If the legends are to believed, some of the greatest dishes of French cuisine came about as happy accidents. And I think it was Brillat-Savarin who said that the discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star.

Alex said...

Discovering stars doesn't make many people happy. Asteroids, on the other hand...

Katy said...

i think the answer is resolutely yes! sometimes i pair flavors without any idea of how they'll work together, and sometimes it's a disaster (mashed sweet potatoes and banana), and sometimes it's just delicious (my recent fig and goat cheese toasts)! i think learning to cook is all about creativity and trial and error, and sometime if you want something soothing and mellow and just a little spicy, you will probably think back to these scones and make them again!

ps -- i had a ginger craving too this weekend, and made ginger clove meringues that were yummy and spicy, but unfortunately not particularly pretty. i haven't decided yet whether to post them or not!

Karyn said...

To answer your question - it's not a failure. It's innovation. And I'm pretty sure it's how people invented brownies. So yay! Brownies (and scones)!

adele said...

Katy - Post them! There are some delicious recipes that just aren't photogenic. :)