Learn English while learning about daily life in Australia, with Rob McCormack
Podcast Number 125 – Lockdown Activities – Baking Scones
(This podcast is 11 minutes and 28 seconds long)
Melbourne spent 112 days in lockdown for our second wave of coronavirus in 2020. As I outlined in Podcast 123 (https://slowenglish.info/podcast-123-surviving-the-coronavirus-second-lockdown-in-melbourne/), it was a very strict lockdown. Apart from some daily outside exercise time and for grocery shopping or medical purposes, it meant staying at home. One of the new things I did was some baking. Unexpectedly, I have found it to be rather enjoyable. In this podcast, I would like to tell you about my baking activities and share with you the recipe for cream scones.
Firstly, I should explain that I am not a very good cook. However, my wife continued to work long after I retired so I took on the role of being the cook for us both. As my cooking skills are not well developed, I must say she was very patient and considerate towards my efforts at cooking. Notwithstanding my under-developed cooking skills, during the lockdown I decided one day to try cooking some scones. In America, these would probably be called biscuits, but in Australia, New Zealand and Britain, we call them scones. Scones are sort of halfway between a small cake and a small bread roll. In their simplest form, scones are made from self-raising flour, some salt or sugar for flavour, some butter or cream and finally milk or water (or both). Different types of scones can be made by adding further ingredients such as dates, sultanas, pumpkin or bananas. Actually, the sky is the limit for any creative cook, as you can add almost anything into scones. Unfortunately, I am not one of those creative cooks, so I followed strictly a recipe I found in a cook book which I have had for around 40 years.
This recipe is called cream scones. The ingredients are:
- 2 cups (340 grams) of self-raising flour
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons (45 grams) of sugar
- half a cup (120ml) of cream and
- half a cup (120ml) of milk.
Firstly, I prepare by getting all the ingredients out on the kitchen bench, along with all the bowls and utensils I will need. I like to do this so that I don’t have to go and look for something once I start preparing the scones. I find I can get distracted by having to look for something like a pot and as a result I can get the recipe wrong, for example leaving out something. I told you I was not a great cook.
Okay, so as well as the ingredients, I need:
- a mixing bowl to mix the ingredients in
- a fork to mix the ingredients in the bowl
- my measuring cups – the 1 cup measure and the 1/2 a cup measure
- a measure for 1 tablespoon (for the sugar)
- a sieve for sifting the flour
- a spoon for putting the flour into the 1 cup measure
- a cutting board for kneading the flour mixture
- a little extra flour for putting on the cutting board
- a baking tray for putting the scone mixture on
- baking paper, for covering the tray before I put the scone mixture on the tray (which stops the scones from sticking to the tray)
- a small drinking glass, used upside down to cut out each scone
- a little extra milk and
- a pastry brush, for spreading a small amount of milk onto each of the scones.
Okay, having assembled all my ingredients and utensils to make the scones, here are the steps to make the scones. Of course, before you start, make sure you wash your hands with soap and water.
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Centigrade (fan-forced).
- Break the egg into the mixing bowl.
- Add 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- With the fork, mix the egg and sugar together and beat them until creamy.
- Add half a cup of cream to the bowl.
- Add half a cup of milk to the bowl.
- Beat the mixture with the fork until fully mixed.
- Now add the flour, making sure you sift the flour through the sieve as you add it to the mixture.
- Mix with the fork until it is a smooth dough.
- Cover the cutting board lightly with a little extra flour.
- Tip out the mixture onto the floured board and knead lightly with your bare hands. This involves folding the mixture over several times.
- Pat the dough mixture into a circle which is about 3cm thick.
- Use the glass (upside down) to press down and cut out each scone from the dough, placing each on the baking paper.
- Use the pastry brush to brush a little milk across the top of each scone. This helps them to brown slightly while cooking.
- Bake in the oven for 13 minutes.
Remove from the oven and enjoy a scone or two while they are warm. I find they also store well in the fridge. My wife and I enjoyed them every day during lockdown as a morning tea or afternoon tea snack with a nice cup of hot tea. I like them with a small spread of butter, whereas my wife prefers them just as is.
It’s quite common to find scones at your local café or bakery in Australia. At eat-in cafés you will often be able to order a Devonshire Tea, which is fresh scones spread with jam and cream, and a pot of tea or coffee. Devonshire Tea originates from England where it is still a traditional café delight. Of course many English migrants have come to Australia over the years so it is no wonder that scones have also become common and popular here in Australia.
I can remember my mother making scones at home when I was a child. Now, whenever I cook and enjoy a scone with a cup of tea, I also think of our time in lockdown during the pandemic.
If you have a question or a comment to make, please leave it in the comments box at the bottom of this page. Or, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. Tell me where you live, a little bit about yourself and what you think of my Slow English podcast. I will write back to you, in English of course. If you would like to take a short quiz to see if you have understood this podcast, you will also find it on my website. Goodbye until next time.
Podcast 125 Quiz - Did you understand the podcast?
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If you got all the questions right, well done! If you got some questions wrong, don’t worry. It’s normal for language learners to take time to develop their understanding.
Question 1 of 10
True or False? – Rob tried some baking during the lockdown and found that he liked it.Correct
Question 2 of 10
True or False? – Since he retired, Rob has done very little cooking.Correct
Question 3 of 10
True or False? – A creative cook could make some interesting scones.Correct
Question 4 of 10
True or False? – Of all the ingredients in Rob’s scones, the largest amount comes from the flour.Correct
Question 5 of 10
True or False? – Rob likes to get all the ingredients and cooking utensils on the kitchen bench before he begins cooking.Correct
Question 6 of 10
True or False? – The baking paper is used to make the scones stick to the tray.Correct
Question 7 of 10
True or False? – Kneading the dough is done with a fork.Correct
Question 8 of 10
True or False? – Rob likes to eat his scones with a small spread of butter.Correct
Question 9 of 10
True or False? – After Rob makes his scones, he and his wife eat a scone or two then put the rest in the fridge.Correct
Question 10 of 10
True or False? – When you order Devonshire Tea in a cafe, you also get jam and cream with your scones, as well as tea or coffee.Correct
activities = things to do
assembled = put together
baking = (here) the process of cooking food using an oven
bare hands = hands with no gloves
beat = (here) to mix ingredients together quickly, usually with a fork or spoon
bench = like a table, but longer
biscuits = in Australia, small round sweets made from flour and other ingredients
board = a flat surface which you can cut vegetables and other food on
bowls = a round hollow object you can put things in, usually food
brown slightly = to make it go a little brown in colour while it is cooking
considerate = when you are nice to other people
covering = when you put something over something else
creamy = like cream
creative = when you think of new things that are different
decided = when something is chosen
distracted = when you think of something else and forget what you were doing
dough = the mixture of flour and other ingredients, before you cook it
efforts = (here) your attempts to do something
extra = additional, a bit more
fan-forced = a certain type of oven which has a fan to make the heat hotter
floured board = a cutting board which has had some flour spread over it
folding = (here) to turn the dough over on itself with your hands, in order to make it mix
form = (here) type, sort
grocery = all types of food that you buy at the supermarket
ingredients = the things that you use to make a meal or cooked food
kneading = to gently push, fold and push a soft dough
measure = a utensil for measuring how much of something there is
measuring = checking how much you have of something
medical purposes = for the reason of your health
mesh = a material made from thin metal wire which you can see through
migrants = people who go to live in another country, never to return
mixture = when several things are put together and mixed
notwithstanding = despite, even though
originates = started from, came from
pastry brush = a small brush used to spread liquid or paste over food to be cooked
patient = (here) to wait for something without getting angry or unpleasant
pot = a round metal or clay object to hold food and liquid when cooking
prefers = likes
retired = your career has finished and now you don’t work anymore
role = a job or a task
roll = (here) a small bread
self-raising = plain flour which has a small amount of baking soda added
share = to give another person something of yours, to let them use it
sieve = a utensil made of wire mesh so that you can remove large pieces from, say, flour
sifting = to pour a powder (such as flour) through a sieve to remove any large pieces
skills = the things you are good at doing
snack = when you eat something between meals
spread = (here) to put something over something else, to cover
store = (here) to keep something for later. For example in a fridge
strict = when something must be followed or done a certain way
tablespoons = (here) a measure equal to the amount of something held in a large spoon
the sky is the limit = an expression which means there are many, many options
tip out = to move something from one container or pot to another
tray = a flat piece of metal used to carry food
unexpectedly = when something is not expected
utensils = small tools used to help you prepare food. For example, knives, measures, etc
whereas = by contrast, when something is different