Know what you can do, and do it wellDecember 04, 2012
I was talking to a woman the other day who told me she always bought cakes and biscuits because she didn't have an electric mixer and couldn't afford one. I asked her if she made scones, banana bread or nut loaves - all of which don't need a mixer. She told me that she thought everything needed a good mixing. I have no doubt there are many people who can't afford mixers but who would easily just carry on doing what they can with what they had. It doesn't make sense to me to do anything else. Later in the day I emailed her these three recipes.
You don't need a mixer to make very good scones, pikelets, pancakes, banana bread, date loaf or the heavier biscuits like Anzacs or oatmeal cookies. And you can make a most cakes if you apply enough elbow grease and mix by hand with a whisk or wooden spoon.
One of the challenges for me when I came back to my home was to work out what I could do. I wanted to do everything to make up for all the nothings I'd done in the previous years. In the end, the challenge turned out to be not only to know what I could do but to know what I could do with what I had. I didn't want to buy anything extra. I wanted to make do with what we had here because from where I stood, it was more than enough.
If you're reading this you have access to the internet - the world's largest resource for finding information, including recipes that don't require too much mixing. If you don't have a mixer, accept that and learn what recipes you can make with what you have, be that a wooden spoon, a hand beater or whatever. You might not be able to make a sponge cake but if you can make the best date scones or walnut loaf you're family has tasted, who cares about the sponge!
- 1 cup of chopped and pitted dates
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 80 grams butter
- a drizzle of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon bicarb
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1½ cups SR flour or plain/all purpose flour with 1½ teaspoons baking powder added
Add the dates, walnuts, sugar, butter, vanilla and bicarb to a large bowl and pour the boiling water over the ingredients. It will fizz a bit because of the bicarb. Mix it all together thoroughly with a wooden spoon, making sure the butter has melted during the mixing process.
Add the flour and mix thoroughly.
Add the flour and mix thoroughly.
Pour the batter into a greased and papered baking tin - I use a rectangle tray, and bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F until you can smell the aroma and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
You don't have to be too exact with your measurements for scones, close enough is good enough.
- 2 cups SR flour or plain four with 2 teaspoons baking powder added
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- ½ cup finely chopped dates or sultanas
- pinch of salt
- 60g cold butter
- ¾ cup buttermilk or plain milk if that's what you have
You need a hot oven to cook scones. Turn on the oven before you make the scones - about 200 - 220C (395 - 430F).
- Sift flour, sugar and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the dates or sultanas.
- Add buttermilk and with a bread knife, stir until the dough forms and all the dry flour has been mixed in. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until just smooth, no more than 15 seconds should do it.
- With your fingers and palm of your hand, press the dough down to about 1½ inches/3cm in height. Then cut each scone with a scone cutter or a wine glass.
- Place scones, just touching, on a tray. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.
- 1 cup SR flour or plain four with 1 teaspoon baking powder added
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ - 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 20 grams butter, melted
These will be cooked on the stove top in a frying pan.
- Sift flour, sugar and salt together into a bowl.
- Mix the milk, egg and melted butter together, then add to dry ingredients, whisking until smooth.
- Heat a non-stick frypan over medium heat and brush with a little melted butter.
- Drop level tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and cook for half a minute or until bubbles appear on the surface.
- Turn over and cook the other side for one minute or until golden.
Serve warm with butter, or cold with jam and cream. You can add grated apple and cinnamon to the batter to make a delicious variation.
You can keep the batter in the fridge till the next day if you only want to make half a batch each day.