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Margaret Murray's Scones or Soda Bread

Margaret Murray's recipe is etched in her heart. "Oh, it's a fistful of this, and fistful of that," she said. But not really. It's quite exact, and don't even think of using Bisquick, she said.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder (1 teaspoon per cup of flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda (flattened, not a rounded teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup raisins
3 tablespoons butter or oil (Margaret said vegetable oil is perfectly good to use)
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Sift the dry ingredients together and add the raisins. If you use butter, cut it in now, until the mixture is coarse. If you use oil, add it during the next step.

Mix the liquids together in a small bowl.

Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquids.

With a wooden spoon, start at the center and mix in the dry ingredients, moving the spoon in the same direction.

The mixture should come together to form a ball, and not stick to the sides . You can always add a little more flour or a little more buttermilk. Put a little flour on the ball and your hands; knead the dough by turning the bowl once or twice.

For the bread, turn the bowl upside down and empty the ball into a greased iron skillet or a 9-inch cake pan. Flatten it out, not quite to the edge of the pan. (Make a cross on the top, said Margaret. "I always do, but not real deep.")

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn it down to 350 and let it cook 45 minutes. (You have to watch it, said Margaret. "Use your head.")

You can also make individual scones, by patting out the dough to about 1 inch thickness, and cut it with a drinking glass to make circles. Bake those at 425, for 15 minutes, then turn it down to 375 for five minutes.

The scones can be sliced and toasted or warmed. Serve with butter and jelly.

Note: The raisins and the sugar are Margaret's adaptation since she came to America. "In my days, the only time we had sweets or raisins was on Easter, Christmas and special occasions, and we never had yeast or store-bought bread."

Thursday, March 08, 2001

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