Sometimes, you just want to have smoke rise from what you’re cooking because it’s hot, not because it involves dry ice. Or use vegetables that your grandmother would recognise. Or even read a recipe from – wait for it – a book. Not a device/platform/or abusive bloke in a white coat, with his name on it – in case he forgets it – who has his own TV show and relishes in insults.
Today’s recipes are a bit like that – being different for the sake of it.
On the other side of the scales is the Country Women’s Association. They’ve been going almost 100 years, which, in itself, should tell you that they’re good. They started for the right reasons – to fight isolation and improve health care for women, and they’ve been working hard at it ever since. They have always been more than just a group of women who make fabulous scones. However, they do that, too.
They have many claims to fame, awards for success, reasons to be proud of the work they’ve done since 1922 – but for your author, and really bad cook, they have been nothing short of a lifesaver.
Their recipes involve ingredients like common sense, logic, stuff you would automatically buy from the shop regardless of whether you had a list or not. The good stuff.
I’ve cooked their recipes and they don’t fail. My guests have eaten their food and asked me who cooked it.
The secret is a little number published by the CWA called 70 Years in the Kitchen. It’s so good it has never not been in publication.
Not only does it have the best recipe for scones (duh!), the Sydney branch’s recipe for must-have-with-scones strawberry jam knows no equals.
Buttermilk scones – recipe courtesy of Sydney City Branch of the CWA
2.5 cups self-raising flour
1 tablespoon icing sugar
50 g butter*
pinch of salt
1.25 cups of buttermilk.
Sift flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl (or into a food processor).
Add butter and rub in by hand (or pulse in the processor till it looks like coarse sand), then empty from processor and do rest by hand.
Make a well in the centre of the mix and pour in the buttermilk.
Stir with a flat-bladed knife just until it forms a soft dough.
Turn out on a floured surface – don’t knead, just pat together.
Flatten dough evenly until it is about 2 to 3 cm high. Use a floured cutter to press out the rounds.
Place side by side, almost touching on a paper-lined floured baking tray and brush tops with a little extra buttermilk.
Bake at 220 C for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and risen – they should sound hollow-like if you tap them underneath.
Place on rack to cool – cover with a tea towel for softer scones or leave uncovered if you like a crunchier crust.
Of course, you have to make the strawberry jam to go with them – this recipe is also courtesy of the Sydney City CWA branch.
1 kg just-ripe strawberries cut into halves or quarters depending on their size
150 g peeled and cored green apples, finely diced
1 large lemon, juiced and fine zest of half
850 g white sugar.
Place strawberries, lemon zest and juice into a preserving pan.
Bring to boil, then lower to a simmer, then cook until fruit starts to break up.
Add sugar without boiling, stir until dissolved.
Bring to boil quickly and cook until the setting point of 105 is reached – about 20-25 mins.
Test from around 15 minutes to ensure a good set without overcooking.
Remove from heat, stand for 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove any scum from the surface.
Bottle into hot sterilised jars and seal immediately.
Store in a dark place for 9-12 months.
Refrigerate once open and use within six weeks.
To find out more about the great work done by the Country Women’s Association, visit their website.
*Amended to correct quantity