The Borough Belles, Borough Market’s neighbourhood branch of the Women’s Institute, is packed with keen cooks, happy to share their ideas and insights. This month: Sharon Savage
I first joined the Borough Belles in February 2016. My friends and I decided we wanted to join the WI and we thought we’d try a few different meetings to see which one suited us best. The Borough Belles was the second meeting that we attended and the first time I went, I was hooked and decided to join there and then. We had a really fascinating talk by a wonderful lady called Odette Toilette (aka Lizzie Ostrom) who took us through a journey of different perfumes through the ages. It still is one of my favourite meetings ever.
The main reason that I joined was because I was hoping to get more involved in charity and community projects. I really enjoy baking and cooking and was hoping to meet like-minded people. I also want to learn how to crochet—I’m unsuccessful as yet, but I’m getting there (very, very) slowly!
I am not a member of the committee, but I try and join in the various activities as much as possible. I have attended a craft club session previously which was great, and I bake for the Choir With No Name a few times a year, as well as do some baking for the various stalls that the Borough Belles host throughout the year. I am hoping to join the Dancing Belles on a night out too, as well as Cocktails and Pages—I never seem to have enough time to fit everything in!
I am originally from South Africa and my family is crazy about food, cooking and baking—my mother is probably the best baker I know and I got my passion for baking and cooking from her. My mum always used to cook amazing meals for our family and friends. Her chocolate cake is unbeatable and still the best I‘ve ever tasted! Usually on a Sunday my mum would bake something special, be it a cake, scones or a traditional South African milk tart, for afternoon tea with my grandparents and extended family. This is one of my fondest memories and as my family are all still in SA and Australia, I miss this pastime a lot.
I still really like baking and cooking and very often bake for my colleagues in the office (too dangerous having that much cake around the house) which they usually appreciate! I also love having friends round for dinner and cooking a great big feast for us all. I love experimenting with different cuisines—my current experiment is smoking meat on the barbecue with different types of wood chips. Bring on summer! I am also one of ‘those’ people that takes pictures of food I’ve made and in restaurants, and also exciting tipples (gin is high on the list). I’m a bit obsessed.
The recipe I’m sharing was one I recently made for the Borough Belles stall at the St George’s Day celebration at Borough Market. There’s nothing better than a cup of tea and a scone with some marmite and cheese or jam and clotted cream! These scones only take minutes to make and the recipe is really simple. Adding buttermilk to the recipe makes the scones really light.
You will need 250g strong white bread flour, sifted together with 2 tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt. Add 60g of cold chopped butter and rub it together with your fingertips to form very fine, sand like crumbs. A good tip is to try and keep everything as cool as possible—I measure out the dry ingredients the night before if I remember and keep the bowl and flour in the fridge. Also try washing your hands under cold water before you start working.
Try and get as much air as possible into the scones to keep them light. Once mixed evenly, slowly pour 175ml of buttermilk into the mixture and loosely mix with a fork—try not to overwork, or else the scones will become tough. Mix until a dough is formed then turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead for a few secs, but make sure the dough is still quite rough.
Gently pat the dough into a round about 2cm thick, and cut out rounds with a pastry cutter. Put the scones onto a baking tray lined with parchment and with a kitchen brush, paint some milk or beaten egg onto the top of each scone. Bake for about 12-15 mins at 220C until slightly risen and brown. The scones are best served warm from the oven with butter, jam and clotted cream. Don’t worry if they are a bit uneven—they will still taste great.