Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.
– from ‘Your Laughter’ by Pablo Neruda
I’m all about lists at the moment. Grocery lists, work lists, shopping lists, ten-year planning lists. Writing out the lists makes me feel as though half the work is done. An extremely easy sense of accomplishment. Here is another type of list; the list of a tired woman with two very small and very beautiful children.
A list of things that I’m missing these days
2. Uninterrupted sex
5. My brothers
7. Time to read
A list of things that I’m loving these days
1. Watching S play with our children
2. The way my kids smile at each other
3. The creativity borne of brevity
4. Millet porridge on cold mornings
5. Listening to my daughter say my name
6. My son’s face while he sleeps
And scones? Well, scones I always love. That said, I only bake them once or twice a year. These ones I prepared early on a Sunday morning a few weeks back, just as the sun was licking the edge of the horizon. And then we ate them for breakfast on the verandah as the last days of autumn sun spilled across the table. Usually I like my scones piled high with jam and cream, but these Pear & Cardamom Scones were so light and so fragrant that they were perfect hot out of the oven with just a lick of butter.
Pear & Cardamom Spelt Scones
3 cups spelt flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp granulated sugar + 1 tbsp granulated sugar (for sprinkling)
½ tsp salt
180g butter, cold
¾ cup buttermilk, cold
1 ½ tsps ground cardamom
2 large pears
Heat oven to 220° and line a tray with baking paper.
Chop the butter into small cubes. Beat the egg in a bowl. Peel, core and chop the pear into chunks. Now pop them all back into the fridge while you prepare the dry ingredients.
In a big bowl sift together flour and baking powder, and stir through with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, salt and cardamom.
Cut your butter through the dry ingredients, either using a pastry cutter or your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Don’t worry if they aren’t all even – the aim is to handle it as little as possible. Add the buttermilk and about ¾ of the beaten egg to the flour mixture and stir until it barely comes together in a dough. Add the pear chunks and mix through.
Turn the dough out onto a floured bench and, using your hands, gently knead until it comes together (no more than 5 – 10 times). Shape into a long rectangle (about 2cm thick), then fold over once, tucking in the corners with your hands to form a circular shape.
Using a sharp knife cut the dough into eight triangular pieces and transfer across to the prepared tray. Brush the tops with the remaining egg and sprinkle with the sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden on top. Serve while fresh and warm, with a lick of butter.
Makes 8 scones.
Notes: the trick to light fluffy scones is to make sure your wet ingredients are super-cold, and to handle the dough as little as possible. I leave my buttermilk and butter in the fridge until the moment I need to use them, and if I remember I actually put my mixing bowl into the fridge an hour or so before I start. When it comes to kneading the dough, as few times as possible is best, and always use your hands to roll it out rather than a rolling pin.