I hate to admit this but I’m an out-of-control workaholic. As long as there is an Internet connection, I am there checking my email, Material World’s Facebook Page, and trying to write on my iPhone. I once wrote a 1,000-word email debrief to an ex-colleague using my phone so yes, I’m that crazy.
Vanessa asked me a couple of weeks back how I manage to keep going on so little rest. My answer was NOT a good one. I told her, “The thought that there is work to be done keeps me going. I live to work.”
But I know I need to learn how to decompress. Most importantly, I need something that will keep me away from the computer and my phone. After having considered many options, from going back to doing hot yoga to knitting, I decided on BAKING. Reasons?
1. Baking gets your hands dirty. When your hands are covered in dough and butter, you can’t touch your gadgets.
2. There are so many steps and instructions to follow, I cannot afford to get distracted. That means, baking does not allow me to multi-task.
3. It’s an activity that rewards the participant with a great sense of achievement. When Denise said, “Maybe your hidden talent is baking” to me on Thursday, I think my chest puffed up with pride just a teeny weeny bit.
Of course, like every novice, I had my fair share of hits and misses. My first project was Buttermilk Biscuits – the type they serve with fried chicken. I forgot to sift the flour and the entire batch turned out heavy and stony. My second project, Orange Rind & Raisins Scones, fared better. The boyfriend devoured eight of the 12 I made and Vanessa finished the one I managed to save for her in less than 10 minutes. The third project, Cheese Scones, was an EPIC fail. The fourth, Dark Chocolate Cake with Cointreau Icing, was tasty but turned out really ugly.
With my fifth project tonight, I think I have performed a personal best, enough for me to want to share it with you. It’s Dried Fruit Scones (yes, I think I am quite gifted in making scones, actually). The entire thing took me less than 30 minutes to make, so if you are up for a spot of baking, try this!
1. A quarter bar of unsalted butter, cut up into small pieces (roughly 50g)
2. 2 cups of self-raising flour
3. 3 teaspoons of baking powder
4. 1/2 a teaspoon of salt
5. 30g of sugar
6. 1/2 a cup of dried fruit – like the ones used in fruit cake
7. 1 cup of full cream milk
8. A little bit of beaten egg mixture for glazing
1. As the key to good scones is to make sure the butter doesn’t melt when you cut it into the flour, I like to cut the butter up before I do anything, then put it back into the fridge until I need it.
2. If you’re unsure whether your scones are done, take a knife and gently tap on one while they are still in the oven. It should give off a “hollow” sound.
1. Heat your oven to 400F or 205C.
2. Use whatever butter is left on the wrapper and grease up your baking tray.
3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl.
4. Add the salt. Stir up the dry stuff a little.
5. Take the butter out of the fridge and rub it into the flour mixture using ONLY THE TIPS of your FINGERS until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
6. Mix in the sugar and the dried fruit. At this point, you need to work quickly so the “crumbs” stay as cold as possible.
7. Pour in the milk A BIT AT A TIME, using a spatula or a wooden spoon to make a soft dough. It should NOT be too wet. Work quickly. Once the whole thing comes together, STOP mixing.
8. Sprinkle a bit of flour onto your work surface and pour the dough on top of it. Using your hand (NOT A ROLLING PIN) to make a round pie about 2cm thick.
9. Coat a sharp knife (I use one of those herb cutters) with flour and cut the pie into 8 small triangles.
10. Set them on the baking tray and coat the top with some egg mixture.
11. Pop the tray into the oven for 15 minutes or until the scones turn golden brown.
12. Cool on a wire rack before eating.
You can eat these with some cold butter (my favourite way) or with some clotted cream and jam (which I find too sweet for my taste).
Who will get to eat these scones? Not the boyfriend. Tomorrow, Denise and Vanessa will be over at my place to finish up a project so they will be the lucky ones.
Meanwhile, if you have a great recipe for baking … do share it with me! Or, how do you beat stress? Take our survey here and share your secret with us!
Happy weekend, everyone!
About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits and wants to know how to make a good cake icing. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.