Monday, October 10, 2011

Social Baking: Cheese Scones & Berry Yoyos

Growing up I remember getting up early on a Saturday just to watch cartoons, and I would sit in front of the TV from 8 or 9am straight on through til noon when the boring adult shows came on, like Masterpiece Theatre.  My favourites were Garfield, the Smurfs, Captain Planet, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Winnie the Pooh.  It pains me something fierce that Hollywood has ruined three out of those five with live action/CGI theatre releases.  Ruined, I say! 

*While researching my childhood, I came across this site, which has a complete listing of all the 80's cartoons and any DVD releases put out, so you can relive those golden Saturday mornings of eating your cereal in front of the tube in your pj's.  I know what I'll be doing next weekend!

I also had the live-action version of Rainbow Brite on beta and I'm pretty sure our beta machine went the way of the dodo due to death-by-over-Rainbow Briting.  God I loved that multi-coloured with the awesome boots.  Who else could pull off saying, "Hey Glumface! Next time there's a rainbow, look up!  You'll feel better!"  I mean for realz, homegirl had it goin on. 
Those boots are to DIE for.

That is the ONLY reason I would ever consider getting up during the single-digit hours on a weekend of my own accord.  I like my sleep and am a champion sleeper-inner, a fact my mother (hi Mom!) still bemoans.  Seriously, she called us this Sunday at 11:15am.  I may have said I was awake, but only awake in the sense that my mind was no longer in deep slumber state.  I was still horizontal, eyes crusty, voice hoarse from screaming at the rugby the night before, husband snoring beside me.  It took a full 10 minutes of poking and prodding for Jonno to wake up, and of course once he was on the phone Mom couldn't resist give him stick for being asleep sooo late on a Sunday morning.  Even from thousands of miles away she still manages to give us a hard time. :) 

So how I was convinced that 10am on a Saturday morning was the perfect time to cash in a Social Cooking voucher is beyond me.  Like so far beyond comprehension that I'm pretty sure some clouds would explode or something if we tried to figure out why I agreed to getting up early on a weekend.  But the promise of a good coffee before our baking session and the fact that we were going to be baking did make up for the early hour. 

*Has that Rainbow Brite picture burnt your retinas yet?  I can't see colours right now...

The Social Cooking kitchens are in a gorgeous spot down on Chaffer's Marina, and right next to Port Cafe, which I am very happy to say serves a lovely mocha.  The format of the class was pretty conducive to really getting into it: first the instructor gives a demo of the steps and then turns you loose to work in pairs on that day's recipes.  Now, while I am happy to be in amongst it all with everyone else, I hate hate hate with a passion getting called up in front of a group to do something, and that was pretty much the first thing that happened that morning.

We were given aprons and name tags.  The instructor asks who among us is a baker and, of course, I got pointed to by my mates.  No pressure there, right?  Heh.  Not unless you're a huge introvert with a seething fear/hatred of being stared at. 

Cue shrinking and attempting to hide behind my mate.  Unfortunately, she spotted my name tag and said, "So Christina, do you want to come up here and cream this butter and sugar?"  How do you say, "No, I'd really rather not coz then people will look at me and I might possibly melt into a puddle on the flow, and that would be really hard to clean up and you don't want that do you?"  So I stood there, creaming butter and sugar, while everyone watched, for like an eternity.  She couldn't move on to something else while I creamed, noooooo, she had to make everyone watch while I finished my task.  I about died.  But then it was over and we got down to the business of making yoyo's, which I had never had before. 

The biscuits themselves are so darn cute, and you could probably get creative on how you do the tops.  One thing that we did learn was that they don't spread, so however much you press them down into a disc, you will be trying to shove double that plus filling into your mouth.  Strategic baking, I tell ya!

Sweet, buttery goodness.
Now, I have to confess I was a little skeptical when I read the recipe before we made them.  "These are sweet biscuits, right?  For dessert kind of thing?  But there's no chocolate!"  I'm not very good at having non-chocolate things for dessert.  But it turns out yoyos are a delightful mouthful of joy, and so easy to throw together.  Look, aren't they pretty?

Berries make everything better!

For the second act, we made "The Best Cheese Scones in NZ".  Should be called "The Best Cheese Scones to Make If You're Really Lazy!" coz they were super easy and only required three ingredients: regular all-purpose flour, shredded cheese, and milk.  Mix, dump, bake, enjoy.  Kind of like in a rugby scrum. 

Scones for the lazy baker!
In all the morning was pretty fun, and we got both recipes done and dusted in about 1 hour 45 minutes.  Which is good, because if it hadn't been fun, I might have had to break some heads.  Imaginary heads though, I'm a nice person!  I don't know that I would have gone to this particular class of theirs if I hadn't been with friends though, as I'm decently competent around the oven and could have put these together if I had been so inclined.  What makes it is that you're baking with friends.  Anyway, on to the recipes:

Yoyos, from Social Cooking
makes about 10 sandwiches (20 biscuits)
  • 175g butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 custard powder
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • 50g butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar (or 1/4 icing sugar, 1/4 cocoa powder for chocolate)
  • 2 tbsp custard powder
  • optional: few drops of flavouring
  • optional: fresh or frozen berries
  1. Biscuits: Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Add vanilla and mix in.
  2. Sift flour and custard powder together to break up the lumps, then mix into butter mixture.
  3. Roll spoonfulls into a ball with your hands, but don't handle too long or the butter will start to melt.  Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, about 1 inch apart. 
  4. Press down into flat discs with a fork or some other implement of distruction.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180C, until just golden and no longer soft.
  6. Filling: Beat all ingredients together with a wooden spoon.
  7. Once the biscuits are cool, spread filling on half.  Top with a berry or two for added flavour and colour and sandwich with an un-frosted biscuit.  Scrumtious!
The Best Cheese Scones in NZ, from Social Cooking
makes about 8 big honkin' scones
  • 2 cups of self-raising flour
  • 2 cups of shredded cheese, your choice of flavour
  • milk to mix
  • Optional ingredients to add: chopped parsley, chives, basil, parika, chopped chillies, spring onions, the list is endless!
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Place flour, cheese, and any optional ingredients you've added into big bowl and mix together.  Form a well in the centre and add a little bit of milk.
  3. Mix ingredients together, and add milk as necessary until they are all holding together but not any more.
  4. Dump big handful-sized mounds onto a lined baking tray.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden.  They're so good you don't even need butter!

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