French rental homes and apartments don’t typically come equipped with an oven which is, frankly, not a necessity for the sweet-toothed over here because there are just so many bakeries filled with all sorts of fairytale worthy cakes to oggle over. But sometimes grey weather closes in and leaves me in need of a culinary motivational boost yet it feels too late in the day for a breakfasty croissant and a creme-patissière filled choux pastry fetched from the bakery feels like a little too much luxury mid-week. In fact, all I want is the satisfaction of something home-made, something a little rustic but tasty. Something simple enough to be made quickly and satisfying enough to get me out of that grey-sky funk. At these times, scones, fresh, warm and delicious served at my own table, in my favourite chair and with my favourite cup filled with piping hot coffee or tea are what’s needed.
Once you’re equipped with a bowl, a cooking tray and the elusive oven, nothing can stop you. Scones take 20 minutes to prepare and 10 to 15 to cook so you get a fast return on you efforts and there is nothing complicated at all about them.
I used to use a classic Irish bread soda based recipe but I recently switched to this British recipe by Paul Hollywood. This new recipe calls for baking powder and regular milk and I like to leave out the sugar (it makes me feel better about the sugar loaded jam I know I’ll be smothering the scones in once they’ve cooled!). If I’m feeling fancy or making these for a friend who’s coming over I might add in chopped up white chocolate and some leftover fresh strawberries or raspberries and fold them in gently once the dough has been made. But, what I really enjoy is keeping the scones simple and then using the very best jam and crème fraîche to serve them up.
Once gently pulled apart into two halves, scones are loveliest spread with slightly salted butter, French crème fraîche and Bonne Maman raspberry jam. Crème Fraîche is strongly associated with Normandy in the North of France and the town of Isigny in particular is thought of as the home of this thick ever so slightly tangy cream.* And it sets off the comforting jam perfectly. For me, raspberry wins the strawberry v. raspberry jam rivalry every.single.time.
If you’re looking for a “cleaner” version of this treat, Saint Dalfour sells French made jam which is every bit as tasty and fruity as Bonne Maman but with natural sugars only (they substitute grape juice for white table sugar)
What treat perks you up on a grey day ? What’s your jam ? Strawberry or raspberry ?
*Bonne Maman jam and Crème fraîche from Isigny (the real deal!) are available in UK and US supermarkets. Saint Dalfour is available on Amazon.