It was a windy and chilly afternoon of August 2004 when the Ryanair flight left us at Dublin airport. Even if C & I had already been to Ireland the previous summer, it took us 2 hours anyway to reach the rent-a-car parking with the shuttle bus and to leave the airport by hitting the right sequence of tricky roundabouts…
Especially because, driving on the left-hand, you constantly have the feeling to be going wrong way, and this triggers a series of paranoid precautions that can give you the roller coaster effect if you cannot dominate.
In the end we managed to be on our way to Fore, Castlepollard, County Westmeath, and we headed to the B&B selected for the first night: selected there so that the ruins of Fore Abbey were at walking distance.
Afterwards, I’d learn to googlemap the location of the accomodations and to print a mini map with indications to carry with me, but in those days I was unexperienced, naive and too-confident.
At a certain moment of our extensive reconnaissance of every country lane about Fore, I think I recognized the B&B from the picture on the internet. Nobody more surprised than myself.
The super-kind landlady (have you ever noticed HOW nice and kind Irish people is?) welcomed us with the classic cup of tea, accompanied by some kind of cakes, butter and jam.
Flying Ryanair we had skipped lunch, so… maybe it was the hunger, but I instantly loved those cakes.
It was the first time I met scones, and from that moment it has been durable, unfading love: after extorting the recipe from the kind lady, after trying many variations, scones remain one of my breakfast favourites, ’cause they are not very sweet.
Here in Canada I can easily buy buttermilk at the supermarket, something that simply does not exist in Italy.
After using some of it to make pancakes, I was looking on the Gourmet website for a way to use the remaining and I stumbled on this recipe.
Ingredients, for about 15 scones:
3 cups all purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
3 tsp raising powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1,5 cups buttermilk
milk (to brush the surface)
Preheat the oven at 425 F.
Sift together all powder ingredients in a bowl. When the butter is at room temperature, add it and work with your fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
Pour in the buttermilk and mix with a fork until a dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 6-8 times, then divide the dough in two parts and flatten each half to a thickness of about 1 cm.
Cut with a floured cookie cutter, round or square, about 5 cm dimension.
I didn’t have a cookie cutter, so I used a knife, flouring the blade before every cut.
Arrange the scones on a baking tray covered with parchment paper, leaving them 2 cm apart, then brush the surface with milk.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until nicely golden.
The recipe yields a lot more scones than you can possibly eat in the following breakfasts, and they tend to become stale quite quickly. Good news is that you can freeze them, and just 1 1/2 minute in the microwave oven will restore them to their innate perfection!