At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Monday, 25 August 2014

baking on an Irish summer's day...

I’ve come to realise something this summer. I actually do love summer in Ireland. Well, for one thing being a student studying in Irelad means that your holidays are…well, longer than those of the majority of other European students, anyway. And the weather, too, I have discovered, suits me down to a tick. Why, I hear all ye sun-worshoppers cry in exaspearation. It’s hardly ever sunny.
Hardly being an exaggeration I say...we do get some sun, we do! Even if it might not be till 6 o' clock in the evening most days. This doesn't bother me too much, though. For, as I mentioned before, Ganache-Elf is, in general, more productive on this variety of an Irish summer day. 
And in honour of the Irish summer, I endeavoured yesterday to bake two things which for me are very much associable with Irish baking...these being, soda bread and buttermilk scones. I had bought a carton of buttermilk for the soda bread, originally, but since I only needed about 400 ml for the bread, I wondered if there was anything else that I could utilise it for. Off the top of my head, I remembered the Irish buttermilk scone recipe hidden away somewhere in my stash of cookery books. 
Buttermilk does give a nice lightness to a freshly-made scone. I was happy with mine, anyway. I put some quartered glace cherries into the dough along with a few sultanas before adding in the wet ingredients, and, after some deliberation, opted for my medium sized scone cutter as a pose to my larger one. I really wanted to have well-risen scones; that was my main objective of the day. In the past my scones never proved to be quite as successful as I desired them to be - not to the high standard attained by my cakes and biscuits and bread, anyway, though my friends and family assured me my scones were just as lovely, of course. It's very true that I am not a perfectionist in most aspects of my life, EXCEPT for baking and cooking. In that area, I never like to slip up. Fortunately, I haven't had any major cause for grief since I started baking; and any "Baking disasters" have been few and far between, thankfully. (But there were some, I might add. How I cringe to look back on them! But don't fret, if you are interested I will enlighten you more on this topic in another post.)
Anyway as I was saying. Often I have made the mistake of rolling out my scone dough too thinly, resulting in scones which aren't quite as thick and as well-risen as a proper scone should be. The most annoying thing about this is, even if they still do taste very nice, splitting them in half in order to spread them with butter and jam can potentially pose some difficulties. Especially if they are still warm, or have been defrosted and reheated in the microwave - I always freeze any scones which are not consumed on the day of baking - it's very likely, unfortunately, that the halved scone pieces will crumble up or break in half if they are too thin. Meaning that both spreading and eating them is turned into a messy and rather sticky task.
But on this scones rose beautifully. Perhaps it was because I took my time with them, as I was in no particular hurry, after all - thick clouds cheerfully sailed past the kitchen window as I rolled out my dough, assuring me that there was absolutely no rush whatsoever to finish up and go outside; for now the sun was well and truly obstructed - but anyway, they were light, well-risen and truly scrumptious, and my mid-morning snackrel that particular day was, surprise surprise, a hot buttered scone with a generous spoonful of raspberry jam on each successfully split half. When I had finished, I next turned my attention to soda bread making. Now surely this is one of the staples of Irish baking. I love soda bread, and, this being my third time to make it, I felt well at home, and there was, of course, the added luxury of not having to worry about overhandling or being too rough with the dough as you prepare it. Ahhhh but the one thing that I do miss in making soda bread is the lack of actual kneading. Unlike yeast bread, the vigorous kneading and knocking back of the dough is not necessary. All you need to do, really, is mix in the liquid ingredients into the dry ones, incorporate them in till you have a soft, but not overly sticky dough, then shape into a round, and bake. It's a much speedier and very different process altogether. Oh, of course, and don't forget to mark the cross in the top, to stop the evil spirits from getting into your lovely loaf. ;)
There are so many things about Ireland which have endeared themselves to me, and soda bread and buttermilk scones (well, I know scones come from Scotland originally...but I don't know why, I just find something so quintessentially Irish about scones! You see them everywhere here. Anyway, let's just pretend for now that buttermilk scones are Irish for neatness' sake.:) )are just some of them...along with the Irish summer weather, of course. There's just enough sun to keep me happy, you see, yet not quite enough to make me feel guilty being inside my kitchen at certain times during the day, whipping tray upon tray of baked delights from the oven...

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