Saturday, February 23, 2008

study break at the mad hippie engineer house

This is a story that revolves around cream. Not just any sort of cream, but cream from Devonshire, England. You see, one of the residents of the mad hippie engineer house is Harry, a British exchange student. And his brother William came to visit last week, bearing a suitcase stuffed to the brim with British food.

He brought all the usual suspects: packages of McVitie's digestives, boxes of Jaffa cakes, and monster-size bars of Cadbury chocolate. But he also brought us two containers of clotted cream.

Clotted cream is a cream made from unpasturized milk, which is heated and left to stand in big shallow pans. It's so thick and so yellow, it looks almost like soft butter. And it just begs to be slathered on fresh, warm scones with strawberry jam.

So we embarked on preparing a study break that would take years off the life expectancy of everyone in the house.

A Mad Hippie Engineer House Production
Curb-Your-Life-Expectancy Scones
Starring Cream, and More Cream, and Even More Cream
Preheat oven to 400F.

Dump six cups of flour, two cups of currants or raisins, four teaspoons of baking powder, and a big pinch of salt in a big mixing bowl.

Cut in one-and-a-half sticks of butter until the biggest lumps are pea-sized. Stir in two eggs, lightly beaten.

If you've been reading this blog for a few months, you'll know that I've been on a quest for the perfect scone for a very long time. The latest incarnation of the recipe calls for Stonyfield Farm's whole-milk plain yogurt as the wet ingredient. But we didn't have yogurt. So we used light cream instead.

Pour in two-and-a-half cups of light cream. Mix very, very gently until a soft dough comes together. (Add more cream if the mixture looks dry.)

Grease a large baking tray.

You have two options at this point: you can either turn the dough out on a floured surface, roll it to a half-inch thickness, and stamp out rounds of dough with a cookie cutter or drinking glass, or, if your dough is on the sticky side, you can just break off lumps, drop them on your greased baking tray, and then shape them. I prefer the latter method. The less you handle the dough, the softer the scones will be.

Break off lumps of dough and drop them on the greased baking tray.

Wet your hands with milk (or more cream) and shape the scones into neat little rounds.

Bake the scones in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until they start to brown a little at the edges. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool.

When the scones are comfortably warm, call a study break. Set out the clotted cream and jars of strawberry jam. Explain to the assembled mad hippie engineers exactly how one prepares a scone for consumption:

Take a scone and split it horizontally. Slather clotted cream on the exposed surfaces. No, no. More. More than that. It's clotted cream, not Marmite. There, that's better. Now spoon some strawberry jam on top.

Your finished result should look like this:

It's getting cold. You'd better hurry up and eat it.


Oh. We still have another container of clotted cream. Let's do this again tomorrow!

The End.

Credit goes to Harry for inspiring this study break, William for bringing the clotted cream, and Alex for the photography.


Sabah said...

But how did the scones turn out? still need tweaking?

adele said...

They turned out quite nicely. Tender, with a good crumb. I still need to play with the cooking temperature and time, though - they were a bit too browned on the outside to be ideal.

Julie said...

Oh, my! I've never tasted clotted cream so I can only imagine how good it tastes but it certainly looks delicous. However I don't see how any studying could be done with distractions like that.

adele said...

Well, if you look carefully in the background of the last photo, there's at least one mad hippie engineer making a valiant effort. :)

Ann said...

Yum! Clotted cream is heart-stoppingly fabulous. Your scones are looking pretty amazing, too.

Katy said...

YUMMMMMM!!!!!!! My mum is British so we make scones all the time. I try not to go crazy on the cream but can actually get clotted cream in quite a few stores, I don't know about where you live but you can get some (pasteurized though) at the supermarket. There is an amazing recipe for scones in Baking Illustrated as well if you are interested. It is near to perfect.

adele said...

Interesting. I always heard that clotted cream wasn't available in this country.

I'll keep an eye out for the Baking Illustrated recipe, but I'm not quite ready to give up on tinkering with mine yet. If I perfect it, I'll no longer have the excuse to bake up enormous test batches. :)