Billie loves picnics. She wants every meal to be a picnic. Her teddy bears join her for imaginary picnics on the balcony. At the playground she insists first on settling on a park bench and 'having a picnic' of sultanas and crackers. Only then is it time for some slide action.
While I'm often tempted by cafes, I feel much better when I'm organised enough to pack some bits to munch on. The best is when I take the time to bake. You save on dough and it (usually) tastes better.
WHO HAS TIME TO BAKE?1 I hear you shout. One word: SCONES. Easy. Quick. Always impressive. And you can add all sorts of bits to create sweet or savory twists on the old fashioned classic. No need for jam and cream here.
It's been hard to plan picnics in Sydney of late as we wake up to wintry mornings that sometimes turn into summery afternoons. Last weekend Billie and I headed to a friend's in Darlinghurst, prepared for a picnic in the shelter of her studio.
How happy we were when our gamble to venture over to Elizabeth Bay paid off. We spread out in this gorgeous little oasis, complete with fish ponds and green slopes worth rolling down.
The lemon peel in these scones is sensational. Don't omit it. But you can skip the cranberries, or swap them for some currents, sultanas etc.
This recipe is adapted from my old favorite, Cynthia Lair's Feeding the Whole Family.
RECIPE: LEMON CRANBERRY SCONES
2 cups wholemeal flour
1/8 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
small pinch salt
6 tablespoons cold butter
1 cup dried cranberries, or currents etc
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup butter milk (or just grab another teaspoon lemon juice and stir through milk)
Extra butter for serving
Preheat oven to moderate, about 350f and 180c. Grease an oven tray.
Combine flour, sugar baking powder and salt together in large bowl. Mix the butter through with a butter knife, and then finish with your hands to create a crumbly mix. Stir through cranberries and zest.
Make a well and pour in the buttermilk/lemon milk and the extra lemon juice. Mix gently but swiftly until you have a moist dough. You may have to add a few more drops (but only drops) of milk.
Place the dough on a floured bench/table/board and knead quickly and gently with your floured hands. Create an 8 inch circle and cut into eight wedges - like a pizza. Use a slice/spatula to carefully transfer scones onto the prepared oven tray. Bake for 20 mins or until just golden. Check them after 15 minutes if you have a hot oven. Cool on a wire rack, and eat as soon as possible.
If you are taking them out to eat, reheat them quickly in a nearby oven. They will stay warm during the walk to the park. Slice in half and spread with butter. (But they are fine eaten at room temp too.)