17 February 2013

17 February - Fornacalia; Raisin Scones

 “…Yet the ancients sowed corn, corn they reaped,
Offering the first fruits of the corn harvest to Ceres.
Taught by practice they parched it in the flames,
And incurred many losses through their own mistakes.

Sometimes they’d sweep up burnt ash and not corn,
Sometimes the flames took their huts themselves:
The oven was made a goddess, Fornax: the farmers
Pleased with her, prayed she’d regulate the grain’s heat.”
                                                                           Ovid, Fasti, Book II

According to Ovid, this was the last day to celebrate this festival of bread and ovens.

Baking bread on a cold day not only warms the kitchen, but the hearts of all within smelling distance. Bake some, and honor the staff of life.

I gave recipes for JOHNNYCAKE and HOE CAKE here.  This year, my offering is RAISIN SCONES, another Quick Bread, from a recipe I’ve used for 35+ years. 

Heat oven to 425° F.

Separate 1 egg.  Put the separated egg yolk together with 1 whole egg in a small bowl (reserve the separated egg white; it will be used later).

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, ¼ cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt; mix well with a fork.

Cut 1/3 cup of shortening into the flour with two knives or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in ¼ cup of raisins (or currants). (If you wish, you may also add the grated rind of 1 orange.)

Beat the egg and egg yolk.  Blend in 1/3 cup of milk.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture all at once and stir until flour is moistened (you want a soft dough, so if needed, blend in a little more milk (by teaspoonfuls) until the dough is workable.)

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently for about 30 seconds, then put the dough on an ungreased baking sheet and pat it out to form an 8 inch circle, about ½ inch thick.  Using a floured knife, cut the circle into 10 to 12 wedges.

Beat the reserved egg white with a fork until it is frothy.  Brush it over the top of the dough, then sprinkle the top with 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Enjoy warm.