When the Cook the Books hostesses announced a new blog event on the Cook the Books website that involved not only cooking but also reading, I knew that I had to participate. This event, called The Edible Word, is a foodie book club in which you basically read a book and then cook something that is inspired by that book (you have to include a dish or ingredient that is mentioned in the book). The event differs from Cook the Books in that no review is necessary.

For this edition of the event, we read Confections of A Closet Master-Baker, a memoir of sorts that is written by Gesine Bullock-Prado. The sister of, you guessed it, Sandra Bullock. I just have to note that I did NOT figure that one out for a while. My friend Andrew came over, saw the book on my bed, and immediately asked me if the two were related. Once he said that, everything fell into perspective since Gesine does mention that her sister is a famous actress in the book and I had been wondering for at least 100 pages who the sister was but didn’t have the motivation to get off my bed and actually google her. Or look at the front cover and read her full name, apparently.

To give you a brief synopsis, the novel is broken down into chapters, each of which consists of a different anecdote or reflection with a recipe to match. Gesine ruminates on various topics such as her whirlwind life in Hollywood, how it spurred her decision to leave that world behind for good in favor of a small town in Vermont, her experience in the small town , the trials and tribulations that came with opening up her own bakery, and how her mother and grandmother have inspired her baking process.

The latter, I believe, are my favorite passages because they are infused with such a wealth of emotion and nostalgia. It never ceases to amaze me how certain smells and tastes can transport you to different times of your life and allow you to revisit memories that you thought were locked away for ever. Everyone remembers and craves the foods that their mom made for them when they were a kid or the dinner that they always had at grandma’s house on Sundays. We have certain attachments to the meals from our first dates, what we ate right after our worst break-ups, and the new cuisines that we tried in the exotic lands that we have traveled to. This why the abuse and mass production of food that has occurred through the invention of McDonald’s and Sara Lee is so tragic. It has taken the importance of savoring and truly enjoying food out of eating and replaced it with convenience and trans fats. As Gesine writes in her chapter on raspberry meringues, neither she nor anyone who works for her is fat. There are even customers who come by every day and have a treat, but who have lost weight in the process. Her theory on why this is? “They just buy and enjoy their treats thoughtfully…When [people] have the experience of choosing something from a pastry case and knowing that the little tart they’re going to take home was baked today, just a few steps form where they’re standing, they’ll savor that small treat, instead of thoughtlessly devouring the entire contents of an economy-sized Acme brand bag of cookies.” Small shops like hers add a personal aspect to eating that allows us to remember why it became a keystone of culture to begin with – not just as a form of nutrition but as a means of connecting with our fellow eaters through a shared act of indulgence.

As a corollary to this, Gesine also writes of the German tradition of having tea at 3 pm every day. This was the “sacred time for cake and coffee”, a preplanned period of time in which the family could reconnect and regroup to discuss their hopes, dreams, and memories. A time to “[share] thoughts and stories” or even just “[sit] silently, enjoying each other’s company and savoring small cakes, preferably something laced with almond, and a cup of strong coffee”. Gesine takes pleasure in knowing that she “[makes] 3 pm happen” for the people who live in her town and now, she can also take pleasure in making in happen for me, my roommate Sophie, and my friend Anu.

Being inspired by the idea of this magical hour of the day in which time was actually set aside to not only enjoy a dessert but to experience it with those you care about, I chose a recipe to make (Gesine’s scones), set about making it, and then invited two of my closest friends over for coffee and conversation. We talked, laughed, and reveled in each other’s company for a good hour or so. We turned eating scones and sipping coffee into an experience and whenever I smell the buttery scent that lingered in the air that afternoon, I will be taken back to the tiny kitchen table in my tiny apartment on the upper east side and I will smile. Then I will head for the kitchen and turn on the oven because that is what I do when I’m happy or sad or just plain content.
I would include the recipe for these but since I used Gesine’s recipe, I am strictly verboten from doing so. I will, however, include a recipe from the Food Network’s website that is VERY similar. I would just substitute raisins for currants, since that is what I did with Gesine’s recipe anyway.

Cream Scones with Raisins
Serves 8

1 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter
2 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup raisins
1 egg
5 tbsp heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry blender, until it resembles a coarse meal. Stir in zest and currants.

In a small bowl, beat the egg and 4 tablespoons of the cream together with a fork. Add to the flour mixture and mix with your hands until the dough just comes together. (If the dough seems dry add the extra tablespoon of cream.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat the dough into a 6-inch round about 1-inch thick. Cut into 8 equal sized wedges. Space the scones evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Cook’s Note: For a richer, darker crust, brush the tops of the scones with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar before baking.

Check for the round-up and to see what other people made on A Blithe Palate on September 7th.

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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22 Responses to Tea Time With The Edible Word – Creamy Dreamy Raisin Scones

  1. Amy says:

    Okay, Joanne – I confess again, I have never been a fan of scones. I always think they’re dry and tasteless. My mother and sister love them, though, and are always trying to convert me. That topping sure looks damn good. I’m very interested in the Edible Word…will need to check that out.

    p.s. I made an eggplant recipe yesterday and it was a success. Woo hoo!!! Will post that later this week.

  2. girlichef says:

    One of my favorite parts of the book was her remembrances of mom & grandma, too. I wish we had the whole custom of a mid-afternoon break…I think most other countries do…that’s the way to live! Your scones sound delicious 😀

  3. Mari says:

    That sounds like a very interesting book and those scones looks amazing; I bet they taste as good as they look =)

  4. Palidor says:

    I think the author is so right. Fast food and packaged foods are so full of other crap that people accustomed to eating that stuff don’t know what real food tastes like! It really sad for many reasons, not the least of which is that people no longer build those lasting memories and experiences over food, as you did with your friends.

    I need to attempt scones again. I tried making them once, but they weren’t as buttery and creamy as I would have liked. Yours look great!

  5. This sounds like a fascinating book. you just amaze me with all that you have going on that you have time to read this book and make these really tasty lloking scones!

  6. DiDo.. says:

    scones and raisins look delicious.. 🙂

  7. Jamie says:

    Your wonderful post has me craving this book! I didn’t know it but it is now on my to-buy list. Beautiful review. And scones? I live with a Frenchman and afternoon snack time is 4, but the idea is the same. So I often make a treat to serve at this magical time of day. Wonderful scones!

  8. Debinhawaii says:

    Great job. It was a fun book to read but poignant too with her memories. I agree with you, a 3:00 PM dessert and sacred time is something we all should do.

  9. Debinhawaii says:

    And I forgot to say your scones look wonderful too!

  10. I loved the write up on the book. I bet it sells some books. Iknow I want to read it.

    To top it off,the scones look good. I am afraid to say that I am going to make them…..my list is too long right now but in the future, these should be a treat.

  11. Lina says:

    I am a scone freak. these look so yummy. sounds like a great book you read! 🙂

  12. Pam says:

    I just finished the book and loved it. And yes, it took me a while to figure out who “Sandy” was!

  13. Never had this before, sounds really delicious!

  14. foodcreate says:

    Amazing ! Looks so delicious can’t wait to try it scone and raisins Yummy !

    Have a wonderful Day ~~~

  15. I love Sandra Bullock! I am going to order this book as soon as I leave here. I heard that she also has a bakery in Texas. I love scones and the whole idea of afternoon tea. It’s a ritual I do everyday, alone, and it’s a nice time to reflect and take a break from the stresses of the day. These scones look delicious!

  16. Elra says:

    This sounds like a perfect breakfast. It’s a real treat!

  17. I haven’t read this yet. It sounds wonderful and you are so right about smells taking you back to another time.

    I love these scones. They are warm and inviting. Thanks for the tip about the crust. :0)

  18. burpandslurp says:

    you’re such a good writer, joanne. Are you sure you are in the right field? lol, jk.
    I didn’t know Sandra Bullock’s sister wrote a novel! And a foodie novel at that! MUST check it out! Thanks! And wow…scones look TERRIFIC! Got any left? Ship them over please! 😀

  19. Kim says:

    Love the scones, especially with jelly/jam. Sounds like a terrific book. I just ordered The Last Chinese Chef for like $1.82 used on Amazon and it is like new. I’m wondering if this book is on there too. Great recipe to share.

  20. Rachel says:

    Great book commentary. And I agree, a 3 pm tea time to savour real food sounds very civilized.

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