Lashings of ginger beer… scones

March 6, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Posted in Aunt Fanny, Eating and Drinking, Joan the Cook | 2 Comments
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Like Sherlock Holmes’ “Elementary my dear Watson”, the phrase “lashings of ginger beer” is never actually used in the stories it’s so synonymous with. As previously noted, the Famous Five only ever enjoy lashings of treacle and of hard-boiled eggs (although not together; that particular combination would challenge even their relatively open-minded tastebuds). There are no ‘lashings’ per se of ginger beer – just vast amounts of the stuff, taken at any time of day [‘Lashings of’ is such a great phrase I’m afraid I overuse it a little, but let’s think of posts with this heading as a loosely thematic series rather than a sign of my lack of imagination].

Taking the cousins’ GB fetish one step further is Dan Lepard’s recipe for ginger beer scones, published in the Guardian magazine a few weeks ago. This uses ginger beer in the dough mix, as well as ground ginger and sweet stem ginger. I felt it my duty to try it out and report the results to any aspiring Aunt Fannys or Joanna the Cooks out there, so last week I whipped up a batch and forcefed them to my housemate and work colleagues.

Here is the recipe:

It makes around 16 scones.

425g plain flour
50g icing sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
2½ tsp baking powder
200g crème fraîche
1 large egg
100g chopped glacé or stem ginger (and a little bit more than this would not be a bad thing)
150ml ginger beer
Milk, for brushing the tops

Put the flour, icing sugar, ground ginger and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and mix together. In a separate bowl or jug, beat the crème fraîche, egg and glacé ­or stem ­ginger with a fork, then stir in the ginger beer. Pour this into the ­dry ingredients and ­gently combine. You should now have ­a very soft and extremely sticky dough.

Generously flour your work surface and tip the dough on to it. Sprinkle plenty of flour on the top and pat it out with your hands to 2-3cm thick. Using a pastry cutter, cut the flattened dough into circles and drop onto a tray lined with a sheet of baking parchment. Brush a little milk onto the tops of the scones to help them go brown.

Put into an oven pre-heated to 220°C (200°C fan-assisted)/425°F/gas mark 7 and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the scones are brown on top. Leave to cool on a rack.

The scones are best eaten warm from the oven. After they cooled down they took on a slightly odd texture that I wasn’t really in to – not quite scone, not quite bun. They also seemed to be the tiniest bit rubbery. Verdict? I would prefer to eat real scones or sticky ginger buns a’la Mrs Sanders but these are worth trying once for their novelty value. Wash down with tea or, if you are a true devotee, a glass of ginger beer.

Washtime!

February 6, 2010 at 9:22 am | Posted in Aunt Fanny, Dick, Eating and Drinking, George, Joan the Cook | Leave a comment
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Residual guilt over Christmas indulgence and a pathetic lack of cycling in recent weeks have prevented me attempting Dan Lepard’s recipe for ginger beer scones, published in the Saturday Guardian a couple of weeks ago. A non canonical recipe, no doubt, but given the Five’s penchant for unusual combinations of food, I suspect they might like the idea of getting their daily ginger beer and scone fix in one convenient package (washed down with yet more ginger beer?). So I’ll return to this one in the near future…

Meanwhile, in the spirit of detoxification that seems to be taking over now that January is finally over (who can give up comfort food during this long, dark month?), this post is about soap. I was given Five Fall into Adventure for Christmas. This is the novel in which the Five first meet ragamuffin Jo, one of the few child characters to recur across a number of the FF stories. I’ll leave aside some of less PC elements of this book but note that the rather dirty and smelly Jo receives a number of good scrubbings at the hands of Joan the Cook. Cleanliness is next to Godliness as they say, and once Jo samples Joan’s food, and dons some of George’s clean and well-worn old togs (to say nothing of developing a serious crush on Dick), she gives up a life of petty criminality and, to keep going with the bath metaphors, throws her towel in with the Kirrins.

For me, old fashioned soap means Pears. Invented by Andrew Pears in a factory in London’s Soho in 1789, this lovely amber tablet was purportedly the world’s first transparent soap. Mr Pears developed it as a gentle product that would stand in contrast to the lead and arsenic in other soaps of the time, and he gave it a traditional, yet subtly exotic, country fragrance by using rosemary, thyme and the all-important and mysterious ‘Pears Fragrance Essence’. I bought a bar of Pears recently and thought it seemed different to how I remembered it – little did I know there had a been a recent outcry over changes to its 200 year old recipe. The original contained just 8 natural ingredients; the new formula has over 20 chemical ones. Due to protests, including a facebook group no less, this new version will soon be withdrawn, with the traditional Pears back in the shops come March.

One company selling stocks of the old Pears is the super Carbolic Soap Company. Their product range includes these delightfully lurid pink carbolic soaps (left), as well as washboards, scrubbing brushes, wooden clothes pegs and Mitchell’s wool fat soap – in short, everything Aunt Fanny and Joan need to keep Kirrin Cottage and its inhabitants sparkling and clean.

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