When I was 10 years old, I was an honorary member of the Wychbold Women’s Institute. Aunty Hilda would take me every Thursday night and I would learn how to arrange the perfect flower display, to make a quilt out of fabric remnants and to clean our home with bicarbonate of soda.
Don’t be fooled. This wasn’t like Jam and Jerusalem. It was more like Calendar Girls. These were strong women, creating an art out of their lives, carving it out of domesticity and society. Amongst them retired solicitors, teachers, guide leaders and Samaritans. They were also perfectionists. Their hair immaculately coiffured, nails beautifully painted and their clothes impeccably co-ordinated. These ladies, who were wives and mothers of the 1950’s, juggled their lives with pure elegance. And it is something I took away to re-create in my own life.
Here is the perfect recipe for scones and the easiest recipe for strawberry jam. I am sure you would agree that everything tastes better lovingly made at home.
225g (8oz) self-raising flour * ¼tsp salt * 1 tsp baking powder * 55g (2oz) butter * 125ml (4 floz) milk * 1 egg, beaten
Pre-heat the oven at 230°C/450°F/Gas 8 with a baking sheet in the oven. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl, then rub in the fat until it resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and stir in milk to make a soft dough.
Knead the dough on a floured surface, lightly and quickly to remove the cracks. Lightly roll out the dough until it is 2cm thick. Using a 5cm cutter, cut out dough rounds as close to each other as possible. Carefully place the rounds on the hot baking sheet. Keep re-rolling until all the dough is used up. Brush with egg or milk to glaze. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve warm with strawberry jam.
225g/8oz strawberries * 175g/6oz granulated sugar * juice of 1 lemon
Layer the strawberries and sugar in a bowl, cover and leave overnight. The next day, scrape the strawberries and their juice into a heavy base pan. Add the lemon juice and gradually bring to the boil over a low heat, stirring until the lemon is dissolved. Boil steadily for 15 minutes. Test for setting by dropping a small amount onto a chilled saucer and chill for 3 minutes. Push with your finger, if it wrinkles, then it is ready. Pour into a serving pot, preferably sterilised and leave to cool. Cover and store in fridge until required.
I have collated all my favourite recipes into one book, FOOD FOR ALL OCCASIONS.
This recipe comes from the section TRADITIONAL PUDDINGS, a selection of the best of British cakes and desserts.