Get comfortable dear reader for there follows a short tale of foolishness and discord all over some simple spelt scones. How did a little boy make things right so everyone could stop fighting and just enjoy their deliciously light and fluffy scones made with natural Greek yoghurt?
All will be revealed. But let’s go back to the beginning of the story when there were two villages called BODDLY and SCODDLY, each on its own separate hill. In the mornings the villagers would go to their panoramic viewpoints not to enjoy the beautiful scenery but to wave their fists and banners with NOT VERY NICE things written on them over at the inhabitants of the other village. For some reason almost no-one could remember, this had been going on for ages and ages. ‘I remember waving my favourite banner when I was just 6 years old’ said grandpa Ollie sitting in his kitchen in the village of BODDLY. ‘It said You’re birdbrains’. What’s a birdbrain? asked little Jimmy, whereupon he was promptly given a breakfast biscuit to distract him. ‘Yeah,’ said grandpa rubbing his chin. ‘Strange word but pretty self-explanatory. He isn’t a bit slow, is he?’ He buttered then contentedly spread some Marmite on his biscuit, munching away and ignoring the look of outrage on little Jimmy’s mother’s face. ‘Lovely biscuits Mary, very tasty with that bit of wholemeal spelt in them!’
In the village of SCODDLY on the other hill, similar conversations were taking place over the breakfast table. With one BIG difference. Over there families were happily munching on SCONES, which strangely enough looked a lot like BISCUITS! ‘Lovely scones today Tom, light as a feather!’
According to an old tale it was in fact an argument over BISCUITS and SCONES that had started the discord between the villages of BODDLY and SCODDLY. Exactly. How VERY VERY SILLY! Surely that couldn’t be true! But there was one little very old woman who could tell everyone what had really happened so many years ago: Helga the scone seller over in Scoddly.
Now little Jimmy was still pondering on the word birdbrain because he was a naturally curious and tenacious child. ‘Birds probably have very little brains… so… oh!’ as it dawned on him he asked himself ‘Why do we hate the Scoddlies? He’d heard Helga the scone seller kept the secret of the BISCUIT and SCONE wars, where the villagers waved INSULTING banners but also took every opportunity to BIN or SABOTAGE the other village’s baked goods or use them in FOOD FIGHTS!
But there is no force of nature like a curious and stubborn little boy. Somehow reader you know he’ll be over there getting the secret out of Helga. Because that’s what happens in stories. But how?Slinking off to Helga’s scone shop was easy. He knocked at the door and as it opened looked up at the colourful little old lady with his most helpful and innocent face. ‘Can I help you with the baking today, Mrs Helga?’
‘Call me Helga, boy!’ she said in a strangely strong voice. ‘This is a surprise, but what the hell. Nice to have a bit of company. You can help make scones. Easiest thing in the world, ‘xcept for cornflakes.’
So little Jimmy set to work, stealing curious sidelong glances at Helga’s tattooed arms.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (static, non-convection oven) or 180°C (fan-assisted oven)
- Line a 30x40cm baking tray with greaseproof paper
- Prepare a clean working surface for rolling out dough, a rolling pin, pastry brush, bowl with a little milk, sieve with a little flour and cutter or upside down glass of around 6 to 6.5cm (2.2 – 2.5 inches) diametre
Ingredients (makes about 15-18 scones of 6cm diametre – depending on height)
- 140g (half cup) natural greek yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 118g (scant half cup) sparkling water
- 350g (2 cups and four-fifths) sifted flour – 250g white spelt combined with 100g wholemeal spelt gives you a tasty BODDLY biscuit and just white spelt gives you a fluffier SCODDLY scone. You can also use PLAIN ALL-PURPOSE flour.
- quarter teaspoon salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- half tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- a pinch of sugar or stevia
- 80g unsalted butter (cut into little pieces)
‘Remember the faster you get these in the oven, the fluffier they’ll be!’ Helga told Jimmy. ‘Those rising agents start reacting with the wet ingredients immediately and are raring to go!’
‘And no overworking. About 10 seconds kneading, maybe a bit more, adding just a spoon or so of flour – as little as possible so it’s just a bit sticky. Totally dry’s no good! Then cut carefully and cleanly, without twisting if you can. I got that tip from Jane Romsey’s little book, Traditional British scone recipes. Jimmy, are you listening?’‘Yup!’ answered Little Jimmy cheerfully, but he was far too busy thinking about his plan for her advice to sink in properly. Still, he enjoyed brushing the scones with milk then sifting flour over them. Easy peasy.
The scones went into the middle of the oven and baked 15 to 20 minutes till they browned. Helga tore one apart and gave half to little Jimmy. ‘Yum! I like them best when they’re warm!’ Then he sneaked a look at Helga and added ‘Wow! Your scones look a lot like our biscuits!’ There was a dangerous pause as Helga’s grip tightened on her half scone and crumbs fell to the floor. Her little eyes glinted then she suddenly started laughing and couldn’t seem to stop. Tears rolled down her face. Jimmy looked worried, it was almost like she was crying.
‘I don’t know whether to laugh or cry’ she confessed, holding her hands to her aching side and forehead. ‘Tell me boy, what do you like best, scones or biscuits?’
Jimmy knew he was supposed to say ‘biscuits’ because he was from Boddly but he was still child enough to state his honest opinion in a clear high voice ‘I like BOTH!’
‘EXACTLY!’ Helga said approvingly. ‘And it’s about time all this nonsense stopped! I was hiding here with my scones ’cause I didn’t want to say Nora from the other village gave me her secret recipe before she … um… went to new pastures. That’s when all the fighting started, when the Boddlies accused us of STEALING their biscuit recipe! But I wouldn’t admit I was using Nora’s. Foolish pride.’‘Biscuits, scones, I’ve lived a while and seen them all and they’re the SAME really. I’ve seen similar variations for both. Either can have butter, or milk and cream instead. Usually you rub in the butter, though I’ve heard someone creamed it. You can add raisins and stuff to both. Now everyone’s mad about spelt flour, easier to digest, so in it went! And I’ve added natural yoghurt to keep them nice and moist.’ After years of silence Helga was happy finally talking scones and biscuits!
‘So scones and biscuits are really the same?’ Little Jimmy thought he’d double check. ‘And there’s no need for us to fight?’
‘No need at all,’ Helga nodded as she prepared more scones for them to eat. She also stored some cooled scones in tupperware, and tightly wrapped others in plastic clingfilm to store a little longer in the fridge. ‘In fact,’ she continued. ‘We’ll take some to a BIG TEA PARTY for both villages. I’ll admit to everyone I’ve been making Nora’s biscuits all these years. That we were friends and shared the recipe. Let’s see what they make of that!’
So that’s what Helga did with Little Jimmy’s help. And do you think the two villages came to their senses and stopped fighting over scones and biscuits? Of course they did! They had a grand time and laughed a lot at themselves. ‘Different name, same thing!’ they chortled. And instead of saying ‘vive la différence!’ they all cheered and shouted ‘vive la similarité!’ I’ll take scones to the Fiesta Friday party too, hosted by Angie@the novice gardener and her co-host Anna@Anna International! Come along, there’s always lovely food and conversation. Of course no-one will be fighting about scones or biscuits, and definitely not throwing them at each other! 🙂
Farewell my sweet-savoury reader! Hope you enjoyed the little story and might one day feel like making these simple but light-as-a-feather goodies. It’s not a ‘sophisticated’ recipe, but just half an hour in the kitchen and you’ll have a lovely breakfast or tea with your healthy spelt scones (biscuits), butter, jam, marmite, cheese and cup of Earl Grey! Just like the Queen! (possibly). Have a lovely week ahead, wishing you happy baking, eating and lots of yummy teatimes! 🙂
P.S. For any UK people who are very confused, there are ‘biscuits’ in the USA that are just like our scones! And cookies like our biscuits of course… so that’s all clear now.. ?! 🙂