One of the things I notice is that often the simplest of things are the most difficult to get right. Take baking, for example. It’s easier to bake a cake with 20 ingredients than it is to make the perfect baking powder biscuit with five simple ingredients or the perfect scone with six simple ingredients.
Ariadne, a friend of mine who was born and brought up in Scotland, invited me over to a meal a few weeks ago and served scones with it. They were so simple to make but tasted so good. They reminded me of the time when I used to make baking powder biscuits almost every Sunday morning, something I haven’t done for years.
I begged her for the recipe for the scones. She has a small notebook with handwritten recipes and she let me take a photograph of the page with her scone recipe. It’s simple. Six ingredients. How hard can it be? Very very very hard. Because it isn’t just about the ingredients; it’s about how you handle them. It’s about what oven you use. The same is true for baking powder biscuits. So until you’ve made those scones or biscuits under exactly the same conditions half a dozen times, you won’t know how to handle the ingredients or what rack to put the baking tray on. You won’t know how big a bowl you need and what kind of spoon you should use to stir them. You won’t know exactly how long it takes for them to cook.
So I’m giving myself a challenge. I’m taking Ariadne’s recipe and I’m going to make scones once a week until I get them right. Once I do that, I’ll post the exact and precise recipe that works for me. And then I’m moving on to baking powder biscuits. This isn’t going to be easy because I know Ariadne has been baking these scones for many years and for her, now, it’s second nature. For me, it’s complicated. It’s fussy. It’s going to make me mad and I know, without doubt, that I’m going to be throwing away some of my scones.
I’ll burn them. I’ll undercook them. I’ll handle them too much and they’ll be tough and I’ll handle them too little and they’ll be soggy. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong but in the end? I’ll be able to make the perfect scone and I won’t have to think about it, kind of like I learned to make the perfect hardboiled egg.
It just takes the willingness to do it over and over and over again until you get it exactly right.
BTW, the pictures are of Ariadne’s lovely scones. This is what I’m striving for.