Ginger Scones for the Apocalypse

I was just sitting here thinking about how irritating it is to look up a recipe on the internet and then have to read through someone’s life story to get to the actual recipe. I would never do that. No wait — yes I would. I would just do it properly.

Let me demonstrate.

This recipe was given to me by my Nana. Have I mentioned my Nana before? Our relationship is complicated. She died a while back, and I haven’t stayed in touch as much as I should have, owing to the fact I find seances sort of creepy.

One time, I saw a movie about people messing with a ouija board and – long story short, some stuff happened that put me off messing with ouija boards. Good things do not seem to ensue.

Or to put it differently, I am trying to prevent a situation in which I walk into my kitchen at 2am to find my Nana there, ethereal and yowling at me, and hurling round plates in that frivolous, aimless manner of someone who doesn’t have to clean up the mess the next morning. You know, like a baby boomer.

Now, as a reminder, this recipe comes to you amid a global pandemic. There might be panic in the streets, and food shortages and civil unrest. To buy these ingredients, you will probably need a face mask and gloves.

When you get to the baking aisle, the chances are that it’s already been looted. If not, grab a bag or two of All Purpose (or Plain) flour. The odds are good that you’ll find crystalized ginger, though; normally it’s difficult to spot, but I suspect that crystalized ginger is going to be one of the only things left on the shelf. Pick it up, and some powdered ginger while you’re at it. You know what? Get two of each because – believe me – you won’t make these scones once. You’ll make them again in two days. Then the day after that, when you’ll be forced to admit that you might have a ginger scones problem.

On the flip side, you’re going to be locked indoors for weeks with the ingredients to make ginger scones. Which is a pretty good way to ride out a pandemic when you think about it.

Let me pause for a moment and reflect on the utility of a sense of humour. Our ancestors survived pandemics long enough to have children; they passed through war, famine and drought. And do you know what your ancestors did in difficult times? They cracked jokes. They laughed at death.

I’m reminded of my grandfather who flew bombers for the Royal Australian Air Force in World War Two. He told me about how he was flying through flak (anti-aircraft artillery) one day in 1940, and his co-pilot said calmly over the intercom, “You know what? I think those people are trying to kill us!” And the entire crew laughed for a full minute as bits of shrapnel pinged off the fuselage.

If we can’t laugh at death we’re lost.

Now to continue – I want you to remember that this is a family recipe and I have always kept it secret. I am making an exception today, however – and let me be clear: the fact that I’m sharing this recipe with you speaks volumes about the love and generosity in my heart right now. Because I don’t share this recipe with anybody.

People ask for it all the time, too. And I blithely promise to give it to them – I stare into their eyes and I swear I will. And then, ahem, I somehow forget. Every single time. And why do I forget? Because I am a difficult man, that’s why.

And yes, I have ruined friendships over this recipe. I have spurned family, quit jobs, cut ties, burned bridges and fled countries, all to protect this recipe from falling into the hands of the undeserving.

In fact, there is a hipster bakery near my house where they sell some sort of wretched isotope of scone – and they would kill for my ginger scones recipe. Yet I have stood by for years, watching on with the remorseless gaze of a sociopath as they flounder about, selling their stale, unremarkable scones. Sometimes I snicker. Bitterly.

And it’s fair to say that if I ever find myself dating, I don’t know, British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, for instance, and her very own grandmother wanted this recipe, then you know what? I would give it to her, because I am not an idiot, which I think is my second point. The first point, obviously, is that this recipe is a good one.

So anyway, here we are – I am giving you this ginger scone recipe for two reasons. First, you have great taste in writers, and second, because the world is hurtling into difficult times and it is my civic duty to share my knowledge.

And if you – like me – must seclude yourself indoors to watch the world twist and bend through the warped glass of the internet, then I implore you to take every precaution to stay, not merely healthy, but cheerful too. Because being cheerful matters. And should you feel yourself succumbing to sadness or despair, stop what you’re doing and bake these scones immediately. Remember, I need you healthy and alive to buy my next book, due out in a few months. You have so much to live for – it’s about a pandimensional bobcat! Peak literature, people.

Here it is, my family recipe, and the source of the blood feud between my Scottish and Gypsy grandmothers. My Nana gave the recipe to me – and only me – having deemed me the only one amid her vile brood who was sufficiently cunning and ruthless to entrust with such a secret. Though to be fair, I was bribing her with cigarettes.

As she lay dying, and in between puffs of Marlboros, she dictated this recipe to me. Then, letting one final curse against the evils of emphysema, she died. Her death couldn’t have come at a worse moment. We were in a supermarket, and I didn’t have enough money for a taxi, and had to take her home on a bus.

I’m kidding, calm down. I left her in frozen foods and came back for her the next day. I think. My memory of the week is fuzzy; to be fair, I was in mourning. And I had just come into a lot of money.

Here’s the recipe. Keep it secret, and keep it safe.

The St.Gabriel Family Recipe for Ginger Scones

2 cups of All Purpose/Plain Flour  
1 tbsp Baking powder  
1/4 tsp Salt  
1/4 cup of sugar   
2 tsp POWDERED ginger  
2 tbsp of CRYSTALIZED Ginger, chopped into tiny chunks.  
1 and 1/4 -- to 1 and 1/2 -- cups of Heavy Whipping Cream.  
1 tbsp milk.  

Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Pour 1 cup of whipping cream over the top, and mix it together with a fork. Keep adding a little cream until it all comes together but is not too sticky. Mix it throughly, until there’s no loose dry flour, and it’s about the same consistency as pie dough. Pat it out onto a sheet pan that is covered in tinfoil or parchment pape, and form it into a rectangle about one-inch thick. Then use a sharp knife to cut it into six to eight pieces and separate the pieces from each other. Brush each scone *lightly* with milk, and sprinkle with sugar. 

Bake in over at 425F (220C) for 12-14 minutes, until gold on top. Don’t remove from oven too early. Allow scones to cool on their tray for five minutes and eat while warm. 

A few notes: the crystalized ginger is the key. It’s in the baking aisle or the bulk food bins at your supermarket. The powdered ginger will be in little glass canisters among the herbs and spices. Stay safe out there.