“Now at least, I understand. As it turns out, a “biscuit” is what one is to call an ill used scone.”
The first time I saw it was well before the turn of the millennium. That would make it something like 16TBT. I was working aboard a replica of the HMAV Bounty, the square rigger built for the famous film, Mutiny on the Bounty starring Mel Gibson and Sir Anthony Hopkins. It was all very theatrical little job and damn good fun. Each crew member with a role to play dressed in buccaneer type garb all sashes and bandanas, ooh arrh-ing and aye aye captain-ing and all that kind of pirate talk melarky. We would take the old girl out with our guests and steam into the wind, somewhere into Sydney’s vast harbor. It was different everyday and as with all things sailing, our itinerary was dependent on the wind.
We would steam past the Opera House and turn under the Harbor Bridge or out past Fort Denison pointing out Sydeny landmarks and historical sites as we went. Once a destination of nowhere in particular had been reached we would come about, that being to turn the ship around. We would set those heavy square canvas sails to the song of sea shanties and sail back the way we had come, in silence except for the sound of wind through the rigging and a hum of a generator keeping the beer cold and food hot. Lunch was a spread of roasts, grilled meats, seafood, salads, a giant tropical fruit platter and Australian cheese board and to finally finish the meal off–tea, coffee and the humble scone was served with King Island Dairy’s double cream and strawberry jam.
Waiting patiently to do as a sweet scone was born to do.
That is when the question first arose.
Why oh why are those mad Americans dipping our “for the end of the meal” scones into their “middle of the meal” roast beef and gravy, what kind of barbarity is this?
To answer this question one first needs to ask another question; what is a biscuit?
I had no name for it at the time, but now at least I understand. As it turns out, a “biscuit” is what one is to call an ill used scone. Now historically speaking when you slather a slightly sweetened bread, leavened with baking powder rather than yeast, in sweet strawberry jam topped with a big dollop of heavy cream it is called a scone, has always been a scone and has been used in a way that sconey type things are meant to be used. It has been so since the 15th Century. There is divinity in its simplicity and in its simplicity it remains a scone.
A rose by any other name is still a rose, unless of course you think to dunk it in gravy or serve as a side to fried chicken, then friends your rose is now a biscuit. I dare say here lies the root as to why American sandwich bread is so very sweet. It shouldn’t be, you really should stop that. Regardless, whatever you think to call them and however you choose to use them, lets face one simple fact shall we. Biscuits or scones…. we all luv ’em!
Ahh You say tomato, I say tomahto.
Now I have never heard of a “cobbler” but being that summer is upon us and the strawberries are in fine form, it seemed to make perfect New England type sense. This was great warm but I must say I think I preferred it the second day cold. But that is neither here nor there.
lets just get to cobblering shall we!
- 2 punnets fresh strawberries (about 4 cups halved)
- 3 cups fresh rhubarb sliced (about 5-6 medium sized stalks)
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 Tbs cornstarch
- juice of 1 squeezed lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla paste (or extract or ½ vanilla bean)
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1½ Tbs sugar
- 4 Tbs cold butter
- ⅔ cup buttermilk
- confectioners sugar for garnish
- vanilla ice cream or whipping cream
- In a large bowl mix together sliced strawberries and rhubarb along with sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, salt and vanilla. Toss together.
- Add to saucepan on medium heat and cook until thickened and bubbly.
- In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
- Take 4 tbs (1 stick) of cold butter and cut into small pieces or grate with cheese grater. Add to your flour mixture. Rub the butter into crumbly pea size pieces in the flour.
- Add buttermilk to mixture and mix through until just moistened. Transfer dough to floured board and knead just a couple times. Roll out with rolling pin or just use hands to flatten out dough. Cut into biscuit size pieces with biscuit cutter or whatever round object you have (cup or I used the top ring to a ball canning jar)
- Transfer hot fruit mixture into a lightly buttered baking dish. Top with biscuits and bake for 25-30 minutes. I also broiled mine (on middle oven rack) for 1 minute to get the tops nice and golden brown.
- Serve with powdered sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream
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