As the holiday days merged pleasantly into one another I was happy to see a much loved and not-seen-enough friend (isn’t that what Christmas is all about?) and thought that for a mid-morning get together only scones would do. After all what is better than scones? Luckily I happened to have received two new cookbooks for Christmas, both with brand spanking new scone recipes. Scone heaven!
These two books (bought for me by my lovely Papa), are written by my two favourite cooks. The first is The River Cottage Bread Book and the second is Nigella Kitchen which accompanies a BBC series of the same name. Both of these people have inspired my love of baking and food in general and I adore their philosophies as well as their recipes. Over the Christmas hols I also made the Devil’s Foodcake which is featured in this book, luckily the recipe can be found here allowing you to make it now. I mean it, right now. Off you go to the shops then back for some light baking and heavy scoffing. Yes it was yummy, no I have no pictures, yes that is because we ate it all.
Anyhoo, back to the scones. After my lovely pal Veronica left and I had gifted her with the scones (the River Cottage recipe) we didn’t manage to eat, I decided to embark upon what can only be described as a Sconeathon. Two recipes, one afternoon, lots of scones. The two recipes are actually quite different as is the end product. A poll revealed that the guest tasters preferred by a hair the River Cottage scones for sheer yummy taste and loveliness. But the Nigella receipt has the advantage of producing more (very delicious) scones that can also be frozen for future consumption. Pro’s and more pro’s!
I would say if you are going for a quick and indescribably yummy scone that crumbles against your bite with a yeilding and moist texture to reveal a creamy taste that lingers on the tongue, then River Cottage it is. However, if you are expecting several guests and want a recipe that will accommodate them all and will produce a scone that is exceptionally light, fluffy, sweet and surprisingly delicate (making it easy, oh so easy, to eat more than a few of them) with the potential for freezing a few for a special alone time with you, some butter, some jam, whipped cream and a cup of hot tea, Nigella is the one for you.
I want to take a moment to wax lyrical about the wonder of a really good (and new!) cookbook. Is there any greater comfort than to leaf through a well built hardback book, knowing that within it’s pages are thoughts to inspire and tastes to create? Seeking out those nuggets that will become familiar creations, well worn family favourites.
The subtle differences in weight, size and texture that make the difference between a book filled with recipes and a delightful treasure that can be pored over during the dark winter nights, plotting and imagining the wonders held within it’s pages. Both of these writers talk with such passion about what and why they cook, about the significance of cooking for ourselves and our loved ones. Each is different and happily unique, yet there is a constant thread, the kitchen is at the heart of hearth and family. That cooking is at once simple and everyday but it can be decadent or even revolutionary.
It it books like this that make me glad of the dark nights to come when I might take the time to plot out a recipe and bring it to the table for those I love the most.
Oh and scones. I am also glad of scones. Lots of them.