“It’s just a silly wee show, but it makes you feel great when you see something you’ve made win a prize for being quite good.”
This seems to be the sentiment surrounding my local flower show in my family. The flower show is a big display of the best in baking, cut flowers, home grown vegetables and rows of pretty jams and jellies, all housed in the local village hall for £1.50 entry. It may seem silly and old fashioned, but I utterly love it. I’ve been entering since I was nine, when I first made a fairly poor Lego aeroplane which somehow won 1st prize. Since then, I’ve caught the bug and make as much as possible to enter in alongside some of the villages top-dogs in home-baking. This year my entries were slightly limited, as I have been flat hunting (more in an upcoming post!) so my creations were made slightly hungover at 7.30am after a fun night of Morrison’s own Chenin Blanc in a box and a lot of Haribo. But like I’ve said, my determination to put down some entries before the cut off point of 10am made it easy to forgo a lie in and get stuck into a bag of self raising flour and a box of eggs.
Last year brought the complete surprise of winning a 1st for my scones, which I put down to trying a new recipe. My tried and trusted copy of Kitchen Magic, covered in flour and cake mix, has provided me with the holy scone grail. Light, buttery and best of all, simple. They were mixed together, baked and cooled well within half an hour, making it easy for me to crack on with some pancakes (a 2nd!) and my Blackberry and Mint Lemonade (a 3rd!). These little scones were then packaged up, placed on paper plates and left for their judgement day. And I am so delighted that I retained my scone crown for the second year running! (As did Miss Gizzi Erskine herself, who liked my photo on Instagram and retweeted it to her followers. Thanks Gizzi!)
But as much as I love baking competitions, I do love baking for pleasure, and I am conscious of the fact that many students will be returning to their halls, flats and bedsits in the next few weeks, eager to start university. Which has got me thinking; do students bake, or is it even possible for students to bake on such a tight budget? My answer is a resounding yes! I was baking from third year onwards, and although I did try recipes that may be out of reach for the average student (French Macaron anyone?) I did being to notice the small changes that could be made to recipes to make them student friendly. Case in point these beautiful scones. I know it is baking-sacrilege to say, but I have tested these scones with Stork and they work perfectly. Still as crumbly, still as light and still as delicious. If you can’t separate an egg or simply would prefer it in scrambled eggs, leave it out. Brush your scones with milk instead. Don’t want to buy a rolling pin? Flatten the dough using your hands (I do). And with five (potentially four, eggless) ingredients, this recipe is the perfect starter for anyone who wants to give student baking a go.
Adapted from Kitchen Magic by Gizzi Erskine
You Will Need
225g self raising flour
55g unsalted butter or stork
1 ½ tablespoons caster sugar
1 egg yolk (alternatively use milk to brush)
Preheat the oven to 200oc/180oc fan/Gas Mark 6. Lightly grease a baking tray with butter and set aside.
Place the flour and butter in a large bowl and using your fingertips, rub the fat into the flour. To do this, take a handful of the mix and rub with your thumb from your pinkie to your pointing finger. Do this until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir through the sugar with a round bladed knife then slowly pour in the milk to create a soft, but not wet dough (you may not need all the milk). Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out or flatten the dough with your hands to roughly half an inch thickness.
Cut out rounds using a cutter, quickly bringing the dough together to cut out more from the scraps. Alternatively, simply roll into a circle and cut into wedges. Place the scones on the prepared tray and brush with the egg yolk or a little milk.
Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes (if cutting wedges, the scones may need a little longer) then leave to cool for 5 minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with jam or butter and feed to your new flatmates in exchange for them doing the washing up.