Ever since I started baking, I’ve grown to realise that one of my favourite breakfasts and tea-time treats to eat and make are scones. Nothing quite hits the spot like a soft and tender bake enjoyed quietly alone on a lazy day, and to have this comfort food on your plate in under an hour, without the hassle of butter softening, or yeast proofing (yes, I’m looking at you, yummy-yet-time-consuming cinnamon rolls), is surely an added bonus, if not an impetus. Yet, each time I blog or tweet on scones;– I must admit I bake them more than I can blog;– I will almost always receive either laments on differing results, or questions on my ‘secrets’ to baking them. This post certainly is a long time coming, but here’s sharing some of my tips on baking perfect scones, and pssst, even if you’re not interested, there is a great recipe awaiting at the end of the post, in celebration of Nutella Day last Sunday.
Recent tweets about fixing the mister’s lunchbox for work had garnered quite a bit of interest from some of my lovely tweeps, via the network itself, along with e-mails. Aside from the most common question of whether I prepare his lunchbox everyday (the answer is yes, albeit they are mostly sandwiches), I’ve also been asked how much earlier I have to wake up, and how I’ve managed to find the time to fix these lunches. In response to the former, I actually wake up later than the mister (hah!), and as for the latter, the secret lies in cutting your actual-day preparation time, so you won’t have to rush sorting out the ingredients you need, etc. Let’s face it, regardless of how perfect a morning person we can claim to be, it’s forgivable to have your brain on auto-pilot mode at 5:45 am. So here are five simple tips to help you ensure you’ve got that lunchbox filled!
Tip #1: Do not overmix
If I could narrow it all down to just one important rule in baking muffins, it would have to be not to overmix. Muffins are said to be the easiest bake, but all it takes is just some extra flicks of the whisk, and you’ve got yourself the driest bake. When incorporating the wet ingredients into the dry, there is a tendency to overmix because the ratio of liquid to flour is quite high. Mixing too much develops the gluten in the flour, which results in hard and dry muffins with ‘tunnels’.
You simply need to mix the ingredients just until the flour is sufficiently moistened. Some bakers recommend mixing no more than 15 strokes, but personally, a good sign to stop before you overmix is when all the flour is off the bottom of the bowl, and you still see some flecks of flour in the mixture. This is definitely not one of those moments you’d want to exercise your OCD tendencies;– the batter should be lumpy, never smooth!