Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Birthplace of Scones (and Bannock)

During this past Saturday's market, as I was talking to a customer about the scones I tried in Scotland, I realized I had neglected to mention them in my blog.
Scotland is the birthplace of scones, and yes, the "correct" pronunciation is 'skon', not 'scone'. The original Gaelic word sounds more like "schkon". I, however, have been saying 'scone' forever, & I don't think I could change it now. (btw, the Queen of England says 'scone'..........)
The scone pictured above was from a lovely little cafe in Elie. They had several varieties to choose from, & I chose this one - a cherry scone. Of course, I was envisioning something along the lines of the sour cherry toffee scones that I make...........and was sadly disappointed. The cherries were, in fact, chopped up candied cherries. Eeww. Dismissing my unhappiness with the cherry flavour, I focused on the scone, itself. Now, anyone that knows me, knows that I am extremely humble when it comes to my own culinary creations. My scones, as popular as they are, don't strike me as anything particularly noteworthy. I am now thinking my faithfull & enthusiastic customers may, in fact, be drawn to more than my sunny disposition (and may actually be buying my scones in spite of it :) . The scone in question............pretty much sucked. The texture was somewhat dry & cakey, the flavour was lacking, well, flavour. Echos of 'these really are the best scones I ever had' from my happy customers came to mind.
I did have an opportunity to try another scone in Pittinweem, at the Cocoa Tree, which I previously talked about. There, I had what I know to be a cream scone, flavoured with chocolate chips. This scone was actually really good, albeit messy, as the scone was served warm........hence, I looked like a 3yr old with my fingers covered in melted chocolate. It was comparable to mine, definitely, although slightly more cakey in texture.
After doing a bit of research when I came home, it turns out that in North America, the base of our scones evolved into containing siginificantly more sugar and butter than the original version. Are we surprised?? Of course ours (well, mine in particular ;) taste better........how could they not?
So there you have it. In the end, I was comparing apples to oranges.........well, maybe apples to crabapples. Similar, but essentially a different beast altogether.
Now, about bannock. I noticed on the menus something called 'bannock'. As it turns out, it is exactly was we associate with the Indigenous food. I had never before heard of a link between the two, and had always assumed that the origins were in North Amercia. After researching the topic, it turns out the opposite is true. Bannock, or bread, has its origins in Scotland, first reference in the year 1000. It is leavened with baking powder & typically cooked in a greased pan, What I found even more interesting was that when the bannock is cut into wedges, the wedges were called 'scones'. The circle is complete.

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