National Baking Week 2010

Is finally coming to an end for 2010! Unfortunately, I don’t think I made quite as much of an effort as I perhaps could/should have. Funds are very low and I couldn’t splash out on the ingredients I perhaps would have liked to. So I’ve had to make it out of ingredients I already have, which was a suprisingly substantial variety.

National Baking Week is all about encouraging people to start baking their own treats, whether it’s just to learn a new skill, or to update some passed down recipes, it’s always an awesome time to start getting your scales and muffin trays out. 
In the cooking community it’s almost a mini festival in itself, forums exploding with recipes, family tips and tricks to make your baking the best and most rewarding it can be. It sounds so very bourgeois, but it’s actually quite exciting, oh how adult of me! 
Nevertheless it’s been fun, any spare moment i’ve had it’s been spent either reading about recipes or new places I can find to get unusual ingredients. Great for the soul…not so great, however, for my dissertation reading, of which i’ve done not nearly enough. Saturday morning spent watching Saturday Kitchen, followed by Nigella introduced me to not only an amazing recipe for Grasshopper pie (thankyou Nigella, you goddess!), but inspiration to make an entire range of cocktail-based cupcakes. That bourbon biscuit bases…I literally could not help myself imagining bourbon cupcakes with creamy, minty, chocolatey icing. It’s going to be immense!

I’ve found out some great little pointers to help me with future baking, example, tossing fruit or chocolate chips in plain flour before adding to cakes or muffins stop them sinking to the bottom, or to make your cakes rise enough, they have to go from adding the final baking powder (or the liquid to your dry ingredients) to the oven in under a minute…which is quite difficult. Or to not open the oven door for the first half of cooking time, because it will interfere with the rising of the cake. 

Simple things like that can make you give up on baking and think you’re rubbish, but they are easily resolved and can give you confidence to try again. Baking your own stuff can save you a tonne of money once you’ve bought the basics (baking tins, scales, spatulas etc) and it tastes so much better. Running the risk of sounding like an advert, i’ll carry on to the recipe of the week for me.
To honour National Baking Week, I’ll keep the theme alive…
English Scones (Courtesy of James Martin)

225g Self Raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
25g Caster sugar
50g Unsalted butter
150ml milk
1 egg, beaten (for brushing on top)
Pinch of salt
– Oven at 220C degrees/Gas mark 7
– Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, stir in sugar, add butter and rub quickly into the flour, until a fine breadcrumb consistency forms.
– Add the milk, slowly, working into a smooth dough. Leave to rest for 5-10 minutes before rolling
– Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until about 2cm thick-ish. Cut with a standard pastry cutter, and don’t twist when cutting, it’ll make them rise wonky.
– Once cut, brush with the beaten egg (for a shiny glaze) or dust with flour (for a matt finish) and place the scones on a greased baking tray, then bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
– Cool slightly and serve with clotted cream, jam, butter, or whatever you like!
Honestly, this recipe is the only one I ever use when making scones, simply, because they are lush, and i’ve never needed to use another. If you’re proud of your successes from National Baking Week, tell everyone about it in the comment box below!